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Federal Update #11

Thursday, June 15, 2006


IU Leadership at the Department of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), established as a federal agency in 1977, administers 40 percent of the federal investment in physical science and engineering research, mostly through its 17 national laboratories. Within the agency, the Office of Science is the major steward of DOE's science and advanced technology programs and manages the nation's research programs in nuclear physics and high energy physics. One of the Office of Science's national laboratories, Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, VA (Jeff Lab) has primary responsibility for nuclear physics research. An ongoing project at Jeff Lab, funded through the Department of Energy, is being led by faculty at the Indiana University Department of Physics.

The project, called GlueX, is a piece of a larger DOE project that will take advantage of recent advances in computing power and double the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility's (CEBAF's) beam energy from the current operating value of 6 GeV to 12 GeV. This will provide much more precise data on the structure of protons and neutrons. Specifically, the upgrade will enable scientists to address one of the great mysteries of modern physics - the mechanism that "confines" quarks together. Within the GlueX portion, IU physicists lead a team of more than 100 researchers from within the US and other nations that will drive improved understanding of tiny quarks, which make up much of the matter of the universe.

At an estimated federal expenditure of $45 million, IU's leadership in the GlueX effort is significant. For a university without a dedicated engineering school, this collaboration with the Department of Energy and Jeff Lab provides a footing into an agency that historically has not looked as favorably at universities without an engineering presence.

In order to capitalize on this progress, Alex Dzierba, the IU faculty member who leads the GlueX team, has been asked to assist in the creation of a Department of Energy working group at IU. The goal of the working group is to identify ways in which IU can increase its visibility and leadership at the agency. In 2004, IU as a whole received $4.7 million in funding from the Department of Energy. The agency's budget that year was approximately $24 billion. Through unique capabilities such as the Cyclotron Facility and the expertise of our physics department, IU is in a position to help advance the mission of the agency and, at the same time, increase federal support for IU activities. The example that Professor Dzierba and his team have set for IU is an incredible start on this effort.


This report has been brought to you by the Indiana University Office of Government Relations with help and technical support from IU University Communications. Staff members from the Office of the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and the Office of the Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer are frequent contributors to this report.

Please contact IU Government Relations via e-mail at or by phone at 812.855.1970 if you have comments, questions or suggestions for improvement.