The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded more than $3.6 million with a focus on diversifying the nuclear and particle physics research communities through research traineeships for undergraduates from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs).
The goal of this program is to increase the recruitment and retention of students from groups under-represented in nuclear physics and to create new partnerships with HBCUs and MSIs.
“These awards are but one part of the Office of Science’s Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce (RENEW) initiative. They serve once again to underscore DOE’s abiding commitment to promoting a diverse, equitable, and welcoming environment for the researchers it supports,” said Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Director of the Office of Science. “Only by stewarding a vibrant, diverse workforce that accesses intellects and ideas across the full spectrum of backgrounds and cultures within the United States can we ensure that the future science and technology workforce in our nation remains the most competent and capable resource of its kind in the world.”
The funding supports long-term training, mentorship, and research experiences for undergraduates at universities, colleges, DOE user facilities, and DOE national laboratories.
Traineeships provide students with a hands-on opportunity to participate in cutting-edge nuclear physics research in a team under the supervision of a principal investigator. The strong emphasis on establishing collaborative research relationships with MSI faculty and the year-round support for trainees are key elements that set the traineeships apart from preexisting programs.
The funding announced is for the second cohort of traineeships selected by competitive peer review under the DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for Research Traineeships to Broaden and Diversify Nuclear Physics. The first awards made under this FOA totaled $2.6 million and were announced in 2021.
In total, funding from this FOA will provide support for approximately 110 trainees from 9 Hispanic Serving Institutions, 14 HBCUs, 2 Asian American and Native Pacific Islander Serving Institutions, 1 Predominantly Black Institution, and 1 Native American Serving Institution.
The “Institute for Nuclear Science to Inspire the Next Generation of a Highly Trained workforce,” or INSIGHT Center, was also created to measure progress and coordinate longitudinal tracking of trainees’ progression towards science and technology careers.
In addition to supporting additional traineeships as part of the continuing RENEW initiative, the DOE Office of Science’s Office of Nuclear Physics plans to explore avenues for post-traineeship experiences and other opportunities to retain RENEW participants, keeping them on the pathways that lead to a successful career in the long term.