The Oregon Ducks and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland are making it official.
The University of Oregon and the Department of Energy’s national lab have signed a formal agreement to partner, building on numerous joint projects in recent decades.
Under the agreement announced Thursday, some PNNL experts will be named Oregon professors and some Oregon professors will have joint appointments at the national lab.
Both institutions will benefit, said Doug Ray, director of strategic partnerships at PNNL.
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Oregon came calling, interested in expanding its offerings by having Karl Mueller, an expert in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy at PNNL, teach some short courses in Eugene.
PNNL already has signed about 20 university joint agreements with schools across the United States and in Australia, including particularly strong partnerships with the University of Washington and Washington State University.
Universities, like Oregon, gain access to one-of-a-kind and cutting-edge scientific instruments, both at the lab and the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a DOE center on its campus used by scientists from around the world.
Universities also can gain access to additional DOE resources.
PNNL scientists with joint appointments will serve as mentors to University of Oregon graduate students.
Doug Ray, PNNL director of strategic partnerships
Oregon researchers also will have increased opportunities to collaborate with a broad range of scientists across many disciplines at the lab, a common practice at PNNL as it tackles complex scientific questions.
The university brings to the table its strengths in materials synthesis, electrocatalysis and green chemistry, according to PNNL.
The national lab will have access to new minds, bringing different perspectives to its research, Ray said.
The national lab also will increase its pipeline of graduate students, a plus for both PNNL and for Oregon.
Graduate students will have opportunities to work “at one of the premier research centers in the country,” said David Conover, the university’s vice president for research and innovation.
The joint agreement also provides opportunities to expand the university’s graduate internship program and place interns at PNNL.
The initial commitment of the joint appointment agreement is focused on chemistry, biochemistry and materials science.
There is also interest in building connections in the life sciences and high-energy physics fields in the near future, Ray said.
The first joint appointment is expected to be Mueller, who will become a university professor in addition to his continuing work at PNNL.
A year ago PNNL had 25 joint appointments, including PNNL and university experts. The number has grown to more than 50, Ray said.
DOE labs across the nation have moved toward increased collaboration with universities, and a new contract for Battelle to continue to operate PNNL signed in August emphasizes partnerships between the lab and local and regional universities.