Working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology
Research collaborations, funding, and facilities use
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is an unusual federal agency. Its mission is broad—to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.
An essential part of NIST’s work is to anticipate the future. Fast-moving sectors such as nanotechnology, quantum information science, homeland security, information technology, and advanced manufacturing need sophisticated technical support systems to flourish and grow. NIST provides that support by continually improving the U.S. measurement system, developing new technologies, fostering standards, and providing both the business and technical evaluation tools needed to produce quality products and organizations.
Recent NIST projects have included efforts to:
To help accomplish its mission, NIST seeks out high-quality partnerships, collaborations, and other interactions with U.S. companies, universities, and agencies at the federal, state, and local levels.
JILA, Boulder, Colo., a world-class physics research institute jointly operated by NIST and the University of Colorado at Boulder;
Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research, Rockville, Md., an interdisciplinary partnership in cutting-edge biotechnology between NIST and the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute;
Joint Quantum Institute, College Park, Md., a new institute for advancing quantum physics research that is jointly operated with the University of Maryland; and
Hollings Marine Laboratory, Charleston, S.C., a national center for coastal ocean science, in which NIST is one of five federal, state, and university partners.
NIST collaborates with partners in a variety of ways designed to meet a broad spectrum of needs. A key principle of the process is that both NIST and its partner benefit from the relationship. NIST provides fair and equitable access to both its technical expertise and its designated user facilities.
Informal collaborations. NIST researchers frequently collaborate informally with researchers at other organizations. These collaborations often result in joint peer-reviewed papers, short-term visits or tours of NIST laboratories, and sharing of research methods.
Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs). A CRADA is a formal partnering agreement that allows federal laboratories to work with U.S. companies, academia, and other organizations on joint research and development projects. The CRADA provides flexibility in structuring project contributions and intellectual property rights, and in protecting research results developed during the collaboration. NIST regularly organizes research consortia on topics of interest to multiple organizations or industry sectors.
Guest Researcher Arrangements. The NIST Guest Researcher Program provides opportunities for technically qualified individuals to work at NIST with Institute staff on projects of mutual interest for periods ranging from a few months to several years. In many cases, a key benefit is access to NIST facilities and research tools. Research results produced by guest researchers—from universities, companies, or other organizations—while working at NIST are shared with the public. Guest researchers (or their home institutions) retain rights to inventions conceived while at NIST.
Use of Designated Facilities. NIST has several unique and valuable laboratory facilities available for use by U.S. organizations for both proprietary and non-proprietary research. Access to these designated facilities is generally provided on a first-come, first-served cost-reimbursable basis. Examples include facilities for gamma-ray sources, small-angle X-ray scattering, nanotechnology, nitrogen flow measurements, heat release calorimetry, and neutron radiography. In addition, projects involving thousands of researchers from around the world depend on NIST’s Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) and the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST).
Accessing NIST Research Results
NIST works to disseminate its research results as broadly as possible through peer reviewed research literature, technical reports, conference presentations, measurement standards, publicly accessible databases, public domain software, patent disclosures, and other methods. The following Web sites provide a wealth of NIST resources:
A number of post-doctoral opportunities are available at NIST, including:
For more information on these three programs, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
NIST also provides extramural research funding through competitive grants. Some examples:
Frequently Requested NIST Contacts