The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has recently announced $2 million in funding to establish a first-of-its-kind traineeship program in isotope R&D, production and processing. The program, known as the Horizon-broadening Isotope Production Pipeline Opportunities (HIPPO) program, aims to develop the future isotope production workforce for the nation and the DOE Isotope Program (IP).
Texas A&M University will serve as the Isotope Traineeship Coordination site in collaboration with a team of 17 institutions, including DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory.
HIPPO represents a concerted effort to boost exposure to the field of isotope science and reduce the time it typically takes for a junior scientist to enter the workforce. [It] aims to broaden and diversify a next-generation workforce and promote innovative and transformative approaches to isotope production and processing.
The workforce bolstered through this investment will make daily contributions to the prosperity and security of the nation throughout their careers in isotope production, including careers within DOE IP, a key federal program that produces critical isotopes in short supply. The isotopes produced have applications in medicine, domestic and global industry, national security, and discovery research.
HIPPO represents a concerted effort to boost exposure of students to the field of isotope science and reduce the time it typically takes for a junior scientist to enter the workforce. The program also aims to broaden and diversify the next-generation workforce and promote innovative and transformative approaches to isotope production and processing.
“The DOE Isotope Program supports novel isotope production and processing activities at a suite of world-class facilities throughout the federal complex and at universities,” said Dr. Jehanne Gillo, director of DOE IP. “To ensure a strong and innovative program in the future, it is critical to nurture a broad and diverse workforce.”
The team will recruit a diverse population of approximately 20 undergraduate and 10 graduate students currently enrolled at the participating institutions. The goal is to expose students to a comprehensive swath of isotope production-related activities while focusing on specific isotope production research projects that can be tailored to trainees’ own research careers.
Graduate students will make week-long visits to both national laboratory and university isotope network production sites, followed by one or more weeks at a HIPPO campus other than the one in which they are enrolled. Similarly, undergraduate students will spend a week at a national laboratory learning about isotope production and then one or more additional weeks at a HIPPO campus doing related research.
In addition to production sites and HIPPO campus visits, the institutions will provide horizon-broadening extended research opportunities for students. Argonne will have opportunities available in many fields that support isotope production, such as photonuclear isotope production, accelerator development, nuclear theory, target science and additive manufacturing.
“We are excited to be a part of this diverse and collaborative training program. Attracting individuals outside of the field of radioisotope production is key to developing a larger qualified workforce for this field of science,” said David Rotsch, principal chemist and deputy manager of the Radioisotope Research and Production Program at Argonne. “As a classically trained inorganic chemist, I kind of fell into the field of radioisotope production, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me, and it shaped my career.”
“Attracting promising students into this field through training programs like HIPPO is vital to meeting our nation’s many needs for critical isotopes,” said Kawtar Hafidi, Argonne’s associate laboratory director for Physical Sciences and Engineering.
The HIPPO collaboration includes 14 universities and three national laboratories and will provide unprecedented opportunities in isotope production, education and research, resulting in well-rounded and well-educated scientists ready to contribute to the nation’s isotope production.
Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science.