Absolutely central. A Department of Energy advisory panels says the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois is “absolutely central” to U.S. leadership in science. Credit: Argonne National Laboratory


Few Low Grades at DOE Science Facilities as U.S. Prepares to Set Priorities

by David Malakoff on 1 March 2013, 5:53 PM

It’s a Lake Wobegon world when it comes to some big science facilities funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE): They’re all pretty much above average, a DOE advisory board said today.

Lake Wobegon is the fictional town created by U.S. humorist Garrison Keillor “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

Today’s ratings of more than a dozen existing and planned DOE facilities—including nanoscience centers, x-ray and ultraviolet light sources, and neutron scattering devices—carried a similar skew. The evaluations came from DOE’s Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (BESAC), a 25-member panel that helps steer one of the six major research programs within the department’s $5 billion Office of Science. It was responding to a request from DOE science chief William Brinkman, who late last year asked BESAC and the five other advisory panels to help out with an effort to develop a 10-year plan that will set spending priorities for new and existing research facilities.

In particular, Brinkman’s letter asked each advisory panel to consider how the facilities in their program “contribute to world-leading science,” and to place each into one of four categories: “absolutely central,” “important,” “lower priority,” and “don’t know enough yet.” He also wanted them to work fast, setting a 22 March deadline for responses.

Today, BESAC took a big step toward meeting that target by approving its facilities ratings list, which had been developed by a subcommittee. The action came near the end of a 2-day meeting held in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Read more: Few Low Grades at DOE Science Facilities as U.S. Prepares to Set Priorities – ScienceInsider.

Home           Top of page