The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced today that it is awarding grants totaling more than $24 million to three universities to provide cost-shared support for the construction of new scientific research facilities. The winning projects were chosen from 93 applicants in a special competition announced last spring.
The three awards include:
$10.98 million to the University of California at Berkeley for the build-out and outfitting of a Center for Integrated Precision and Quantum Measurement, part of a larger project to construct a new building for the school's physics and astronomy departments;
$11.998 million to the University of California at San Diego for the construction of a Marine Ecosystem Sensing, Observation and Modeling (MESOM) Laboratory at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography; and
$1.267 million to the University of Florida for the construction of an Aquatic Animal Health Facility, an expansion of a planned new Aquatic Pathobiology Laboratory.
The special construction grants program was called for under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-161). It provides cost-shared funding for the construction of new buildings or the expansion of existing buildings for the sciences as they relate to the mission of the Department of Commerce and its agencies, including NIST, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
The awards were determined on the basis of a competition open to institutions of higher education and nonprofit organizations. Proposals were evaluated on the scientific and technical merits of the proposal, the quality of the design of the proposed facility and the adequacy of a project execution plan that includes project scope, schedule, budget, management and financial support for the project. Selections also were based on the degree to which the proposed project complemented Commerce Department programs in science and technology.
Additional details on the three winning proposals and contacts for further information can be found at the end of this news release.
As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NIST promotes 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.
Center for Integrated Precision and Quantum Measurement (CIPQM)
The CIPQM is intended to provide a state-of-the-art, high-stability, low-noise research facility for precision and quantum-level measurements. Planned research areas include the application of atomically resolved microscopy to operating nanoscale devices to observe dynamic processes and extremely rapid transient events at the nanoscale; quantum nanomechanics, an emerging discipline focused on the measurement and control of mechanical properties of nanostructures; interferometry with ultracold atoms, with applications ranging from basic research on fundamental physics to ultra-high precision gyroscopes and gravitational field detectors; solid-state magnetometers and amplifiers at the quantum limit, a precision measurement field with many applications in physics, earth exploration and medical devices that sense faint magnetic fields; and advanced optical metrology techniques at the nanoscale. These areas strongly complement existing quantum-level research programs at NIST.
The new center will be housed in an underground facility located in New Campbell Hall, a research building scheduled to begin construction on the UC Berkeley campus. The facility will offer a low-vibration environment, low electromagnetic radiation interference, low acoustic noise, and temperature stability unmatched by other facilities at the university. The NIST funding will enable the university to build out the space allocated for the center with critically needed infrastructure.
Marine Ecosystem Sensing, Observation and Modeling Laboratory (MESOM)
The new MESOM Laboratory will be built on the campus of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, a research institution and graduate and undergraduate school within the University of California at San Diego. The proposed three-story building will have a total of more than 18,000 assignable square feet divided between laboratories, offices and conference rooms. The facility will house a new multidisciplinary program at Scripps to integrate the development of physical, biological and chemical sensors—and the autonomous ocean-going platforms to support them—to conduct long-term observation of the ocean ecology of the California Current Ecosystem (CCE), a major Pacific biome, and forecast changes based on physical and biological numerical models. The program will make the CCE a model for understanding processes across the world's oceans. The program builds on Scripps' 50-year history and expertise in long-term oceanographic and climate measurement programs.
In addition to providing much needed laboratory space for this work, the MESOM Laboratory will enable Scripps to consolidate researchers from a variety of disciplines—who otherwise would be split among five or more different buildings—in a single dedicated facility to promote more productive discussions and interactions. The MESOM research program is closely tied to the work of the NOAA, and in particular the agency's Southwest Fisheries Science Center and Joint Institute for Marine Observations, which also are located at Scripps.
Aquatic Animal Health Facility
The Aquatic Animal Health Facility is an expansion of the soon-to-be-constructed University of Florida Aquatic Pathobiology Laboratory. The facility will add resources to the pathobiology lab to enhance research and diagnostic capabilities for working with marine mammals, sea turtles, fish and mollusks. The combined 6,990-square-foot facility will include specialized rooms for water preparation, aquatic animal holding, small and large animal necropsy, molecular diagnostics, and the study of behavioral responses to toxins and low level stressors. Aquatic animal health is an important factor for assessing environmental health because the sensitivities of certain animals to environmental changes often serve as markers of ecosystem health, and by extension, the health of environments and habitats that humans share and use. The NIST funds build upon original facility support from the University of Florida's Emerging Pathogens Institute, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the College of Public Health and Health Professions, and the College of Veterinary Medicine. The new Aquatic Animal Health Facility will draw on extensive and diverse faculty expertise in environmental health, veterinary medicine, agricultural sciences, and freshwater and marine ecology to better understand interactions between environmental stress and the occurrence of disease, morbidity and mortality in aquatic animal populations.
In addition to its obvious importance to a maritime state such as Florida, the new facility will complement several NOAA programs under the National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Ocean Service that have stressed the need for improved information on aquatic animal health.