Dozens of representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Laboratories visited UNH this week to forge new connections and strengthen existing ones between UNH researchers and their 17 world-class facilities. In all, more than 200 UNH faculty members and students, researchers from regional universities and businesses and National Lab personnel attended the first-ever UNH National Lab Day October 27 and 28.
“The DOE’s National Labs are incredible user facilities with unique resources and scientific instruments,” said Marian McCord, UNH senior vice provost of research, economic engagement and outreach, whose office hosted the conference. “This meeting provided an excellent opportunity for our research community to learn more about partnering with the National Labs to advance their research and solve scientific challenges.”
Launched during the post-World War II boom in scientific investment, the 17 National Labs provide a home for large-scale, costly scientific facilities unaffordable by individual universities. Scattered across the country, from SLAC National Accelerator Lab in the Bay Area to Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico to Brookhaven National Lab on Long Island, the labs tackle the critical scientific challenges of our time in partnerships with universities and other research entities.
The conference, which included welcoming remarks from U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, featured panel discussions and breakout sessions with both UNH researchers and National Labs personnel on topics where UNH expertise intersects with National Lab resources: marine energy and the blue economy, nuclear physics, advanced manufacturing, climate change, equitable access to clean energy technology and workforce development.
Participants toured UNH’s John Olson Advanced Manufacturing Center, Chase Ocean Engineering Laboratory and nuclear physics facilities in DeMeritt Hall. In addition, 45 UNH undergraduate and graduate students from a range of disciplines attended a career fair to learn about the many opportunities for internships, fellowships and employment at the National Labs.
Networking and nurturing academic partnerships are goals for the National Labs as well. In his opening plenary, Jefferson Lab director Stuart Henderson called his Lab’s decades-long collaboration with UNH’s Nuclear and Particle Physics Group “an important pipeline for us.”
“The Labs are really eager to engage the academic community,” Henderson said. “It’s really important that the Labs and the universities come together around the critical problems the nation faces right now.”