Representatives from 45 national scientific user facilities converged on Capitol Hill March 28-29, 2012, for an exhibition organized to promote the overall benefits of user research. Arranged by the National User Facility Organization (NUFO), the exhibition included a poster from each NUFO facility, plus posters describing industrial and small business research at NUFO facilities.
More than 200 legislators, members of their staffs, funding agency representatives, and members of the general public attended all or part of the two-day event, held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building and the Cannon Caucus Room.
Brief remarks on Wednesday by Tony Lanzirotti, chair of NUFO (The University of Chicago), Sam Aronson (Brookhaven National Laboratory), Pat Dehmer (Department of Energy Office of Science), and Steve Wasserman (Eli Lilly) focused on the economic benefit to the nation of the partnership between government, academia, and the private sector.
Dehmer cited not only the Nobel Prizes won by users of the light sources for very fundamental work, but also current real-world applications. Drug manufacturers use light sources to design drugs, engineers examine engines noninvasively in real time, and high-performance computers enable real-world engineering designs. Dehmer concluded by stating that “research at the NUFO facilities now is allowing us to see understand, predict, and eventually manipulate the world around us.”
Wasserman commented that the concepts and insights that make technology start-up companies successful are invariably in place when the companies are founded and are often based on research conducted by users at national scientific user facilities, which comprise a major component of the “unparalleled scientific infrastructure of the United States.” Wasserman noted that, with uncertainties in federal support for user facilities, organizations such as his are forced to examine options abroad.”
Remarks on Thursday by A. Paul Alivisatos (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), Guebre X. Tessema (National Science Foundation), and Yan Gao (GE Global) echoed the theme of economic benefits of these public-private partnerships. Alivisatos stressed that a core mission of national laboratories is to provide access to research tools that are beyond the practical scope of universities or companies.
Tessema concurred that NUFO facilities are a major part of the “innovation ecosystem,” and Gao continued by commenting that GE Global has such a broad range of research programs that access to the range of tools provided by NUFO facilities is critical to his company’s core mission.
Argonne’s user facilities were well represented at the events by the following individuals. For the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility: David Martin (LCF), Paul Messina (LCF), and William George (NIST). The Advanced Photo Source was represented by Susan Strasser (APS) and Peter Eng (CARS, The University of Chicago). The Argonne Tandem Linear Accelerator System (ATLAS) representatives were Daryl Hartley (U.S. Naval Academy) and Bill Walters (University of Maryland). Kathleen Carrado Gregar (CNM), Michael Zach, and Corina Grodek (University of Wisconsin) represented the Center for Nanoscale Materials.