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Philosophical Society of Washington Lecture Series: NIST Overview

Remarks as prepared. 

Thank you so much for that introduction.   

It is a true pleasure to be able to join all of you here today and speak about the work we do at NIST and our priorities for the future.  

NIST is truly an amazing institution that demonstrates the best of how government scientists can come together with the private sector for mutual benefit. It’s my goal as the NIST director to enhance the ability of our scientists to conduct world-class research and ensure that NIST keeps excelling at meeting its critical mission for the nation — now and for years to come.  

NIST is also a very diverse organization, as you can see from this glance. We say that NIST is industry’s national lab, and that’s because of the scientific research we do aimed at advancing innovation for economic competitiveness. That’s what I’m going to talk to you about today: who we are at NIST and how all the different work we do comes together.  

NIST is an organization that I love and have dedicated 30 years to as a scientist and leader, and that is due to our unique mission — to advance U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness — with cutting-edge measurement science and technology. We seek to ensure that the United States captures the full benefits of technology innovation. The NIST mission has never been more important, as we strive to secure U.S. leadership in critical and emerging technologies, or CETs, in a competitive global landscape. 

NIST also plays an important role in ensuring that what is invented here in the U.S. is manufactured here — by leading the innovations necessary to enhance our national and economic security and strengthening the resilience of our supply chains in critical industries. 

To tell you a bit more about who we are, NIST has a workforce of approximately 7,000 dedicated people, which is divided roughly in half between federal employees and associates such as students and contractors. 

This distinguished group of researchers and staff has many impressive accolades including five Nobel Prizes and collectively generates thousands of research publications.  

Our two main campuses for NIST are located just outside D.C. in Gaithersburg, Maryland, as well as in Boulder, Colorado, with smaller sites in South Carolina and New York, but we really have a presence across the entire country through additional centers of excellence, joint institutes, and manufacturing centers and institutes. 

NIST achieves its critical mission through three broad program areas. 

We operate world-class laboratory programs to conduct breakthrough scientific and engineering research as well as offer calibration services and standards that are essential to industry and manufacturers.  

We also offer innovation and industry services, which are extramural programs that bring together stakeholders from the public and private sectors to collaborate on solving U.S. industry needs. 

Most recently, we’ve added work to implement the landmark CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. This 50 billion dollar appropriation by Congress is being used to support an integrated ecosystem for U.S. semiconductor technology and safeguard American excellence in semiconductor manufacturing.  

In addition to these three areas, I would also like to thank and acknowledge the incredible administrative, maintenance and support staff at NIST that enable our work every day. 

At NIST, our laboratory programs are divided among six labs and three focus areas. 

Our two metrology labs provide measurements that underpin the international system of weights and measures. These labs both conduct fundamental measurement research as well as develop and disseminate national standards through calibrations and standard reference materials.  

Next, the three technology laboratories conduct research that advances applied measurements and standards in each of their subject matter areas. For example, cybersecurity research performed at the Information Technology Laboratory results in the cybersecurity standards that are followed by the federal government and much of global industry. 

Lastly, the NIST Center for Neutron Research is a user facility that maintains specialized equipment for neutron measurement capabilities that are available for researchers from industry, academia and government agencies to use and accelerate their own innovative research.  

As the U.S. and global leader for measurement science, NIST laboratory programs offer a number of unique products and services to benefit industry.  

Every year, NIST conducts more than 13,000 calibrations of measurement devices to ensure that industry can reliably and accurately measure a variety of different systems, including force sensors for rocket and jet engines. 

NIST maintains more than a thousand standard reference materials or SRMs, which are standardized products that enable manufacturers to have a baseline reference for their measurements. Each year NIST sells tens of thousands of SRMs, like peanut butter in the picture at the top of the slide, ensuring that the food you eat is safe. 

NIST also maintains an atomic clock at the Boulder campus that keeps the official U.S. time, essential for a range of services such as financial transactions and GPS. Hundreds of billions of dollars in U.S. financial transactions are timestamped with NIST time every day. 

These are just a few examples of how NIST research and standards not only push the boundaries of understanding with novel research but also provide a critical scientific service to U.S. industry.  

The internal research that NIST does in our laboratory programs is also complemented by our extramural programs, which we collectively refer to as Innovation and Industry Services.  

In these programs we seek to translate the developments we make in the labs into real world impacts. To do this, we form public-private partnerships and bring together stakeholders to address the technological and manufacturing needs of U.S. industry. I will talk about the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and Manufacturing USA later in the presentation. Here I wanted to say a few words about three other programs: 

  • The Baldrige Program provides global leadership in promoting performance excellence and the learning and sharing of successful performance practices, principles, and strategies. 
  • The Technology Partnerships Office (TPO) structures collaborative relationships between NIST researchers and external partners (regional, national, and global partners), fosters entrepreneurship and small business growth, and provides economic analysis to support the process. 
  • The National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) provides third-party accreditation to testing and calibration laboratories in response to legislative actions or requests from government agencies or private-sector organizations. 


The CHIPS Act is such an exciting new development for NIST, because it captures the whole vision of what we do at NIST: conducting research that supports our critical industries and working with the private sector to apply that research and solve industry needs.   

Semiconductor chips are an essential technology underlying so much of the global economy due to their use in everything from smartphones to cars, and this reliance will only increase as we make our technology smarter and shift to a greener and more sustainable future. At the same time, we find ourselves at an inflection point where advanced semiconductor manufacturing is dominated by a few firms, and the global political situation have put that supply chain at risk. To not only support American manufacturing but also ensure robust national security, we need to safeguard semiconductor excellence and manufacturing capabilities. 

Toward that end, Congress allocated 50 billion dollars over five years in funding for the CHIPS and Science Act, which is being overseen by NIST; 39 billion dollars of that allocation is going toward financial incentives programs to enable US semiconductor manufacturers. The rest of the allocation is being used to conduct R&D, setup an ecosystem of assets, and develop a workforce that ensures the U.S. has access to high-quality semiconductor manufacturing. 

As you can see there is a lot of really exciting work going on at NIST as well as a lot of diversity in how we accomplish our mission to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness. Now I would like to transition to telling you about the future of NIST, and our priorities for ensuring that it continues to deliver on its mission. I also want to start off by saying that these priorities were created in collaboration with NIST lab directors and office directors to reflect the needs and understanding of the organization.  

Here is the set of priorities that we developed: number one, critical and emerging technologies leadership; two, standards leadership; three, manufacturing leadership; four, mission delivery enhancement; and five, NIST community building.   

Critical and Emerging Technologies

The first priority area that I’m going to discuss is critical and emerging technologies, as NIST is essential in the development, manufacture and adoption of technologies critical today and those yet to be imagined.   

There are clear motivations behind this priority. First, it’s a clear national need to promote and quicken the development of emerging technologies in light of the global competition landscape. 

A challenge ahead for the U.S. in general, not just for NIST, is that the U.S. has an innovation ecosystem that is market-driven and bottom-up, and our biggest competitor has an innovation ecosystem that is top-down and autocratic. The rules are different, so how do we play in this global landscape?   

The opportunities for NIST, in particular, are that NIST is a strong collaborator and has the trust of industry, academia and government. We work across this continuum from basic research to applied research, from manufacturing to standards, to have all of the tools in our tool kit to address technology leadership issues with our partners. We have led programs that have driven new industries throughout our entire history, and we’ve been one of the earliest innovators in areas like quantum — from groundbreaking research to work to support the nascent quantum industry and its necessary supply chains. We can work across this continuum, which increases our impact for the American people. 

While there are many lists of top critical and emerging technologies for the United States — you can see a top 10 list on almost every website — these are the ones that we are focusing on and prioritizing: 

  • The first is artificial intelligence: trustworthy, transparent AI and machine learning and important applications of AI.   
  • Next, biotechnology and engineering biology to impact the health, agricultural and industrial sectors.    
  • Cybersecurity and privacy, to enable the development and deployment of emerging technologies.   
  • Advanced communications, 6G and beyond, and wireless technologies. 
  • Energy technologies: generation, storage, distribution of secure, climate-friendly, efficient utilization of energy.   
  • And finally, quantum information science: leveraging quantum mechanics for the storage, transmission, manipulation, computing, or measurement of information. 

NIST was a really early player in identifying these critical technologies, and now we’re also starting to think about what new critical technologies are on the horizon.  

Artificial Intelligence

With the rapid advances in AI technology, there is increasing interest in the vast benefits AI can provide to our world, but also increasing concerns about the potential harms AI could also bring. NIST has been a leader in cultivating trust in the design, development, use, and governance of AI through our AI program.  

NIST has a robust AI research portfolio, including both fundamental research seeking to advance and promote trustworthy and responsible AI as well as applied research leveraging the power of AI and machine learning to drive innovation in our laboratory programs.  

Our research, expertise, and engagement with the private sector allows us to also develop guidance, tools, and frameworks to help promote trustworthy and responsible AI. Earlier this year, NIST released our first AI Risk Management Framework, or AI RMF, which has been a defining document in the effort to manage AI risk. Since then, NIST has also developed the AI Resource Center, a repository of guidance, metrics, and references to help operationalize the AI RMF. 

NIST has a long history of devising and revising metrics and measurement tools, and we are applying that tradition of excellence in measurement science to tackling challenges with measuring and evaluating AI. We have investigated AI bias, interpretability, and transparency, and are also working to conduct rigorous evaluations of AI technology through development of benchmarks and metrics. 

This work will be crucial for laying the foundation to develop international technical standards for AI as well, where NIST is a leader and convener both in the U.S. and abroad. We are already highly engaged in the standards space, as NIST is the United States Government AI Standards Coordinator and engages in several international fora, including the Organization for Economic Co-operation.  

Finally, NIST established and administers the National AI Advisory Committee to advise the United States government on opportunities and challenges related to AI. 
NIST has also recently convened the AI Public Working Group, formed to specifically collaborate on the challenges related to AI.  

Though this year has shown the AI space to be constantly changing, NIST’s expertise, experience, and leadership will continue to be needed as the world continues to find solutions to AI challenges. 

Biotechnology & Biomanufacturing      

Today, we face significant competition in biotechnology innovation and biomanufacturing capabilities, which are both so critical to our national security, public health, and economic competitiveness. 

NIST’s laboratory programs are focused on R&D enabling biotechnology, biosecurity, and data analytics — as well as the measurements, data, and standards leadership to advance new biotechnologies into successful products.   

A few of our established programs are in biopharmaceutical biomanufacturing, industrial biotechnology, and regenerative medicine. Within these programs, NIST develops measurement science for assessment of biomolecules, quantitative tools for cell characterization, analytics for biomanufacturing processes and measurements, and models for cells within populations. These foundational and applied research endeavors ultimately lead to highly characterized standards, which provide industry with QA/QC or benchmarking materials or datasets to then use as a metric for quality assurance of their own products.    

For example, our Genome in a Bottle standards, a series of standardized human DNA to enable translation of whole human genome sequencing to clinical practice and innovations in technologies.  

Our genetically modified yeast provides an innocuous living material for biosecurity training of first responders. 

One of the most requested materials at NIST is the NIST monoclonal antibody, or NIST mAb. This is a highly structurally characterized antibody developed to assist in the development, safety, and production of monoclonal antibody drugs. 

We most recently developed the first living cell line reference material which is a CHO cell line that produces a biosimilar of the NIST mAb. 

NIST’s role in the bioeconomy became even more important for the nation last year, with the White House release of the Executive Order on Advancing Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Innovation for a Sustainable, Safe, and Secure American Bioeconomy. 

In March, OSTP released the NIST-authored Department of Commerce “Bioeconomy and Biomanufacturing R&D to Further Societal Goals in Supply Chain Resilience” report. In this report, specific bold goals over the next five to 20 years tie together needs for a resilient supply chain with specific R&D efforts to help the U.S. and our likeminded partners and allies get there.  

NIST has played a major role in the work on the executive order and has amplified the goals of supporting biotechnology and biomanufacturing through standards and process innovation to position the U.S. as a global leader in the bioeconomy.  

Cybersecurity & Privacy      

NIST’s mission and efforts in cybersecurity and privacy support the government’s broader efforts and national priorities to protect and secure the U.S. from the evolving threat landscape.   

For 50 years, NIST has played a key role in protecting both national and economic security through our research and development of guidelines and standards for cybersecurity and privacy.   

Our current priorities are broad — our work includes developing guidance and frameworks on risk management, digital identity, and privacy. Our Cybersecurity Framework, Risk Management Framework, and Privacy Framework are well-known around the world and used across many economic sectors. NIST also develops cryptography standards, most recently developing standards for post quantum cryptography, which I will discuss in a few minutes. 

We also have a dedicated program to develop guidance for education and training the cybersecurity workforce, which is our NICE program.  

Finally, we collaborate with private sector partners to ensure that our guidance and standards are practical and meet industry’s most challenging needs. NIST’s National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) allows our stakeholders to engage with us directly to access tools and resources to support practical cybersecurity applications.  

Advanced Communications      

Next-generation communications is a vast technology space — from manufacturing to transportation to public safety — and NIST plays a key role to ensure American industry is well positioned globally to meet the rising market demand for broadband technologies. 

NIST’s Advanced Communication Research program develops world-class measurement techniques essential to accessing, utilizing, and sharing the radio spectrum necessary to make 5G systems that are developed in the U.S. viable in an ultra-competitive, worldwide marketplace.  

Our Public Safety Communications Research Division (PSCR) is the primary federal laboratory conducting research, development, testing, and evaluation of public safety communications technologies. With the First Responder Network Authority, in spring of 2022 we designed and built the Public Safety Immersive Test Center to conduct immersive public safety standards and measurements testing.  

We also are working on measuring and testing the wireless ecosystem to inform the next generation of wireless technologies. We partner with the National Science Foundation and Department of Defense to identify technical gaps critical to the sustained innovation of post-5G wireless systems. 

We also conduct research and development into core network technologies to improve the quality and timeliness of standards and accelerate adoption by industry. 

Finally, we conduct work on spectrum sharing and sensing. We recognize that spectrum is a limited national resource, and in our work develop metrology for usage, sensing, and optimization of spectrum. Our spectrum research includes hosting the National Advanced Spectrum and Communications Test Network, a multi-agency-chartered partnership that organizes a national network of federal, academic, and commercial test facilities. It provides testing, modeling, and analysis necessary to develop and deploy spectrum-sharing technologies and inform future spectrum policy and regulations.  

Energy Technologies   

NIST is also a leader in energy technologies research. As the U.S. and the world continue to adopt more renewable and cleaner energies, the need for consistent standards and measurements increases.  

An essential application of this research is alternative energy sources. NIST has a long history of work on solar photovoltaic technology, and as this industry grows, there is similarly a growing need for standards. NIST recently released a new standard reference instrument, a calibrated solar cell. Products like this enable calibration of industry measurements and reliable calculations on energy output and efficiency.  

We also study the efficiency of utilities and the grid. This is a picture of our really cool Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility, a fully operational house on our Gaithersburg campus. The house was designed to be highly efficient, and in the first year of operation, 2013-2014, the house net exported energy to the grid rather than the estimated $4,400 a family living in the house would have paid for electricity. This unique facility allows us to test a wide variety of renewable technologies in a realistic home environment.   

Standardization is also critical to conventional energy technologies such as ensuring that the gasoline you get at the pump is standardized and will work in the engine of your car. Now we’re working to apply these standards and measurements to tackling climate measurement. NIST conducts extensive measurement research to track emissions, including developing sensors that are currently flying in NASA satellites to measure temperature and greenhouse gas emissions.   

Similarly, our energy research encompasses not only traditional fuels but also alternative and renewable fuels, which are growing in utility. As we shift to technologies like hydrogen-powered cars and planes, it is just as important to ensure these new fuels conform to standards and are safe to use.   

Quantum Information Sciences and Technologies 

NIST has a leadership role in supporting the national priorities laid out by the National Quantum Initiative Act (NQIA), which provides an overarching framework to strengthen and coordinate quantum information science activities across the U.S. government, private sector industry, and the academic community. 

The NQI outlines some specific functions for NIST to perform. These include: 

  • Expanding our R&D efforts to develop new measurement and standards services that advance the commercial development of quantum applications, 
  • Leveraging existing programs at NIST, in collaboration with other federal departments and agencies, as appropriate, to train scientists in quantum information science and technology, 
  • Establishing a quantum consortium to advance the field of quantum information science and engineering, and 
  • Working with external partners, through a variety of agreements, to further our work. 

NIST fulfills this direction through coordinated efforts in foundational research that emphasizes quantum information science and metrology; quantum engineering — applied research to engineer and improve the robustness of prototypes; and through collaboration with industry and other stakeholders through the Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C).  

To give you an example of our research in quantum engineering: The commercialization of atomic technologies requires replacing large, laboratory-scale laser setups with compact and manufacturable optical components. NIST researchers and our collaborators at the University of Maryland, College Park, recently demonstrated an architecture for deployable optical atomic clocks that combines integrated photonics and atom trapping onto a single chip.  

In another example, our researchers who were pioneers in the field of single-photon physics responded to feedback from our industry partners and, just last month, completed a dictionary of terms for single-photon sources and detectors, which are some of the building blocks of quantum computers. Writing the document was a three-year effort that incorporated feedback from international experts in academia and in industry. Although it was just published in September, it has already received attention from standards organizations and other federal agencies that are interested in using it.  

Another area in which NIST demonstrates its long-standing expertise in CETs is the intersection of quantum information science and cybersecurity. The excitement but also the risk of quantum computers is the ability to bypass current encryption methodologies. This poses a severe cybersecurity risk to both the public and private sector. 

NIST’s post-quantum cryptography work is a critical part of a National Security Memorandum on Quantum Computing, as well as the Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act. In 2016, NIST launched a program to begin identifying classical encryption algorithms for a post-quantum world. The goal is to rethink encryption and proactively identify algorithms resistant to attack by quantum computers. When quantum computing becomes mainstream, we will have already protected our data and cybersecurity from new threats. Since launching the program, 69 candidate algorithms submitted by the public have been evaluated. 

Draft standards for three algorithms were published in August, with another due to follow in 2024.  

NIST’s quantum research and cryptography research work together to push the boundaries of science but also safeguard our privacy and security. 

Standards Leadership  

The next priority is standards leadership, which I’d like to expand on even further from what I already described as part of our CET efforts. 

At NIST, we work in different types of standards. We have physical reference standards, physical reference materials — a lot of people call those standards — that are used to validate and benchmark measurements made nationally and globally, and we sell these products here and overseas. 

The second kind of standards and the one that I'm really talking about today is documentary standards that support manufacturing quality, health and safety, and global interoperability, as just a few examples. 

I’m going to focus on this second piece, the international documentary standards, which in my recollection has never been a stated priority of NIST, even though our scientists and technical staff participate in over 3,000 different standards activities every year. That’s about equal to the size of the federal staff at NIST, so we do a lot of this, and yet it's never been stated as a clear priority. 

There are clear motivations behind this NIST priority area. It’s a national security and economic security priority for this administration and for Congress, and new standards strategies have recently been released by both China and the EU.  

Additionally, we have a challenge in front of us to maintain U.S. international standards leadership. It is a private sector-led system in the international standards ecosystem, and we support that. We do not support a government-heavy top-down approach, but we do support our role as the U.S. government to participate actively in this process, an important role that NIST has played for a long time. 

But there is also a lot of opportunity here and a lot of interest from industry. In talking with some industry leaders recently, I asked them how much involvement do you want from the government in international standards development, and they replied, “Do you mean government, or do you mean NIST?” And I thought that was a really interesting response, because they said, “With NIST, we have a really good impedance match. You really get us. When you go to the table, you really help represent us, and you convene us with government. You convene us with academia, and so, when you go to the table, we really respect your input.” We're really proud of that reputation at NIST, and I consider that a real opportunity. 

So where do we go from here on standards leadership? I’m pleased to say that there has been a lot of traction in this area. The White House published the U.S. Government National Standards Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technology, with NIST playing a lead implementation role for the U.S. government. The strategy emphasizes enhanced investment in R&D for standards development, expanding collaborations between public and private stakeholders for standards development, and growing engagement in standards development. And importantly, we’re currently engaged in listening sessions with the private sector across the nation to hear about how we can maximize this lead role. 

In the U.S., NIST is one of the major developers of standards, and we work with our partners and stakeholders in the private sector such as the American National Standards Institute or ANSI to disseminate those standards. As I mentioned before, 93% of trade involves standards, so there is also a lot of international cooperation on standards, and NIST is a key player in that as well.  

Three of the major international bodies for standards development are the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). ISO and IEC are both private, voluntary organizations whose members are national standards bodies. The ITU is a treaty, or intergovernmental organization. As you can tell, people who work in standards are all big fans of the color blue.  

This is a private sector-led system in the international standards ecosystem, but NIST engages with this organizations, and in some cases U.S. developed standards gain direct international acceptance and are adopted as de facto global standards.  

Since standards play such a key role in trade, they often underpin international government cooperation and trade agreements, and NIST is able to represent U.S. government standards interests in those discussions. Here are a few examples of the nations and coalitions that the U.S. engages with on standards issues, such as the US-EU Trade and Technology Council, the Quad countries, OECD, and many more. To give an example of what this cooperation looks like, recently the Quad — that is Australia, India, Japan, and the U.S. — jointly signed the “Joint Principles on Critical and Emerging Technology Standards,” which affirms support for private sector-led, consensus-based, multistakeholder approaches to international standards development.  

Manufacturing Leadership 

The next priority I want to talk about is manufacturing leadership. Our vision here is that NIST is the industry’s one-stop shop for practical tools, services, and measurement expertise to accelerate U.S. competitiveness and impact.   

It is an administration and congressional priority to bring manufacturing back home and to solve supply chain issues, and I don’t think America has ever heard so much about supply chain issues as we have in the last few years. 

Now, we have some challenges to overcome in this space, but one of the things that I wanted to bring up is that we have these incredible intramural and extramural programs that can be coordinated and leveraged to tackle this national priority area.  

The opportunity is that NIST has partnered with manufacturers since the beginning of time, and we are really ready now to start thinking about accelerating the transition from R&D to manufacturing, through all of our programs, to deliver lab outputs to the factory floor and make NIST resources as accessible as possible to industry. 

So I love where we are. I think now we just need to put that oomph behind it and get it really coordinated so that people know us as the place for manufacturing. 

We have incredible resources in manufacturing. We have the laboratory programs. All six of them contribute to addressing the needs of manufacturers in some way or another. We have our services and resources that include calibration services, reference materials, and reference data that serve manufacturers in many areas.   

And we have our extramural programs, which are very well acknowledged and high performing around MEP and the Manufacturing USA program. Each one of these areas has a very unique role to play to support manufacturing in the United States.   

The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, or MEP, operates 51 centers in every state and Puerto Rico, which provide manufacturers with access to resources they need to succeed. This includes applying available technology and business practices to small- and medium-sized manufacturers along with the tools to manage modern manufacturing. Last year, MEP helped manufacturers generate billions of dollars in sales and cost savings as well as the creation and retention of more than 100,000 jobs.  

As of June 1, MEP has invested more than $20 million in new cooperative agreements with all 51 current MEP Centers to establish a national Supply Chain Optimization and Intelligence Network (SCOIN). Under the new authority granted by Congress to the MEP program in the CHIPS Act, MEP published the first Expansion Awards Pilot Program request for applications on Feb. 27. All 51 current MEP Centers submitted noncompetitive applications to implement projects to expand the existing MEP capabilities to establish SCOIN.  

Another program is Manufacturing USA, which comprises 17 institutes funded by NIST, DOE, and DoD, each of which is focused on a specific area such as biomanufacturing or additive manufacturing. These institutes convene manufacturers, academics, and other stakeholders to advance new technologies, create new products, and enhance the skill of the U.S. workforce to support the relevant industry. Efforts emphasize outreach to small- and medium-sized manufacturers, geographic regions that are currently underrepresented in manufacturing, and underrepresented groups to support a diverse and resilient U.S. manufacturing base.  

Manufacturing USA this year received base funding to continue its support of the NIST-sponsored NIIMBL institute which focuses on biopharmaceutical manufacturing and workforce development. We were also given funding to select a new NIST-sponsored institute through open competition on a topic to be determined.  

In special appropriations, MFG USA was given $14 million in support of the CHIPS & Science Act responsibilities. Through this funding, MFG USA will be standing up the WEAVE program, a public service award of $11M to engage with HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutes; and assist in transitioning institute-developed technologies, such as through testbeds to address issues with scale-up.  

Manufacturing USA was also appropriated funds to launch a new NIST-sponsored semiconductor-related Manufacturing USA institute or institutes, while also providing additional support for current institutes that have roles in the semiconductor ecosystem.  

Mission Delivery Enhancement 

The next priority is mission delivery enhancement, ranging from our products and services to our campus infrastructure. 

Our work in standards contributes to the underpinning of trillions of dollars in trade, our timekeeping underlies every single trade on Wall Street; if our research starts new markets like quantum, if our reference materials help ensure the quality and safety of products in every sector, and if we are out in every state in the United States helping manufacturers not only stay afloat but innovate and find new markets, then we should have the resources to do that successfully. Performing cutting-edge science also requires a lot of investment; investments in talent and people as well as the advanced facilities and instruments they need. That’s always a challenge and a motivation, to tell our story and make sure funds are available to enhance our mission delivery. 

To dive into this a little bit more, we’re scientists and researchers, we like to have data. So, we have the data on our facility needs. The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine published an in-depth report on the state of our facilities and needs. They were able to estimate lost productivity due to facilities needs as well as the estimated budget required to enhance our facilities. This is a priority of ours to secure that funding and maximize the benefit deliver to U.S. industry and the American people.    

This is also a great opportunity to talk about another area of NIST research that I haven’t mentioned yet. Another way we support the American people is by enhancing their safety, and we do a lot of work on disaster response and preparedness.    

There are four ongoing investigations that I’d like to highlight and give an update on: Hurricanes Maria and Fiona, Hurricane Ian, and Champlain Towers South building collapse, and the Maui wildfires.  

  • For the hurricane studies:   
    • NIST continues to evaluate the performance of critical buildings and emergency communications during post-disasters — how they were impacted and their operations.   
    • NIST is evaluating how critical systems have recovered, such as infrastructure systems, businesses, supply chains, and social functions, all of which contribute to a community’s successful operation.  
    • NIST is also looking at the overlap of wind speeds and building codes and if these codes need to be updated with new wind speed data, as well as studying how emergency communications affect evacuations.  
  • For the Champlain Towers South investigation:  
    • Shortly after the June 24, 2021, partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South building, NIST established a team to conduct a technical investigation into its cause. The National Construction Safety Team Act or NCST authorizes NIST to investigate building failures and recommend changes to building codes, standards and practices, with the goal of improving building safety nationwide.  
    • Earlier this summer, investigators shared details of their work. They highlighted preliminary evaluations of the data collected on site conditions and additional deviations from design in the construction of the building’s pool deck. 
  • Hawaiʻi Preliminary Reconnaissance 
    • NIST also deployed a preliminary reconnaissance team to gather information on the tragic Maui fires last month. NIST has a long history of investigating fires that impact buildings, and this research enables the development of standards and recommendations to mitigate future events.  

NIST Community Building 

The final priority is community building — which has always been important, but since the pandemic, has taken on even greater meaning towards organizational health.  

I want to ensure that NIST provides a community open to change, where everyone is valued, supported, engaged, and empowered.  

It’s our dream, and our shared goal that NIST be a place where everyone comes to work knowing that we care about their health, their physical, and their mental stability and safety, and that they all feel welcome and included and respected.   

There are a few topic areas I would like to address in community building. First, we've identified issues related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility that we are working to address in our new DEIA plan.   

Second, I’m deeply committed to improving safety at NIST and creating a safety culture. Unfortunately, some incidents at NIST have been a big wakeup call on safety, and that’s something we’re working very actively to address.  

Then the third involves bringing people back to campus post-COVID. For a long time, over two years, a lot of people were not on campus consistently. We’ve made big progress here, but there are still adjustments to make and adaptations to changing federal workplace policies. There’s obviously a big activation barrier to trying to create an on-campus culture after all this time, but that kind of creates an opportunity as well. We have had a new chance to restart and reestablish the NIST culture, and I’m committed to having a vibrant work environment that encourages the types of innovations I’ve discussed here today. 

Diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility are all really meaningful to me. I’ve been a woman in science, and I’ve seen the impact that diversity and representation have for science. At the same time, science can be a hard place to change the culture and values to make sure everyone has an opportunity. We’ve seen some of those challenges at NIST, and we’re being strategic about how to move forward. We’re currently working to implement a NIST DEIA Strategic Plan to make NIST a more inclusive workplace. An example of this work in action is reinvigorating the more than 30 employee resource groups at NIST, and making sure that diverse voices are heard at every level. 

Thank you so much, and I’m happy to answer questions you might have.  

Created October 19, 2023