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University Of Virginia Among Consortium Selected To Manage Energy Department's Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Oct. 22, 1999 -- The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a five-year contract, valued at $2.5 billion, to a consortium of universities, including the University of Virginia, to manage its Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

The contract was awarded to the University of Tennessee-Battelle, which is a team effort of UT and Battelle Memorial Institute of Columbus, Ohio. The team includes Oak Ridge Associated Universities, a consortium of 87 universities. U.Va. is one of six lead institutions on the team that will have a seat on the UT-Battelle governing board. U.Va. also will have representatives on the lab's science and technology steering committee, will conduct technical reviews of the lab, and will be able to set up joint professorships with the lab.

The other universities with board seats are Virginia Tech, Duke University, Florida State University, Georgia Tech, and North Carolina State University.

Oak Ridge Laboratory is one of the nation's largest energy research and development laboratories with 4,500 employees and an annual budget of about $550 million. The lab focuses on national and global energy and environmental issues. It is responsible for major DOE programs in basic energy sciences, advanced scientific computing research, nuclear physics, and energy efficiency and renewable energy.

After a transition period, the UT-Battelle team will assume full management and operation responsibility on April 1, 2000. The lead partners will share a $7 million per year management fee. The contract is renewable for another five-year period. Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corp has managed the lab for the past 15 years.

"This contract opens the door for more resources and better research opportunities," says David J. Hudson, associate vice president for research at U.Va. "We will establish new collaborations, and strengthen current relationships with other institutions and with the Department of Energy through this contract. There is enormous potential for growth."

Hudson says U.Va.'s departments of Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science and Engineering, Environmental Sciences and Computer Science all will conduct research at Oak Ridge with other participating institutions. Environmental Sciences is planning ground water contamination studies with the lab; Computer Science will investigate advanced computing development; and Physics, Chemistry, and Materials Science and Engineering will run projects in new materials science.

"With our seat on the governing board and representation on the science and technology steering committee, we will be able to help formulate the research program at Oak Ridge for the coming years," Hudson says. "We will have access to terrific facilities, such as the linear accelerator and the new spallation neutron source, and this should help us in our recruiting efforts for top faculty and graduate students."

A new initiative at the lab, the Spallation Neutron Source, will be a facility for conducting basic research in materials science, solid state physics, engineering, chemistry and structural biology.

Hudson says the contract is likely to fund two to five new joint U.Va./Oak Ridge faculty research positions. The faculty members would serve part time in Charlottesville and part time at Oak Ridge. "These are only the begininings of the opportunities that are possible through this contract," he adds.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory's mission is to conduct basic and applied research and development in order to advance the nation's energy resources, environmental quality, and scientific knowledge and to contribute to educational foundations and national economic competitiveness.

Contact: Fariss Samarrai, (804) 924-3778

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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