An already close relationship between Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Cougars and Huskies is going to grow closer.
The state’s three largest public research institutions have signed an agreement intended to create opportunities for the Department of Energy national laboratory in Richland, the University of Washington and Washington State University to increase collaboration.
“By teaming together, PNNL, UW and WSU have even more opportunities to attract federal funding to the Northwest,” Steven Ashby, PNNL director, said in a statement.
Significantly more UW and WSU students could intern or participate in other programs at PNNL’s Richland campus or its marine sciences laboratory in Sequim, Wash., according to Doug Ray, PNNL’s director of strategic partnerships. Already more than 100 students from those universities are participating in internships or other PNNL programs.
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Internships for graduate students at PNNL provide a pipeline as the national lab recruits the next generation of scientists and engineers to the lab. The interns will benefit from opportunities to conduct research they might not have otherwise, Ray said.
The number of PNNL staff with dual appointments to the universities and university staff with dual appointments to the lab also should increase significantly, according to Ray.
The joint appointments allow researchers to more easily work across scientific disciplines on complex issues and provide greater access to specialized scientific instruments, he said.
This agreement brings focus to the collaborative efforts of the three primary public research institutions in our state.
Kirk Schulz, WSU president
“By working together, we can increase the impact and raise the visibility of the science and technology that our state is delivering to address pressing challenges in energy, the environment and global security,” Ashby said.
For WSU, the agreement presents an opportunity to support its goal of maintaining a preeminent research portfolio, WSU President Kirk Schulz, said in a statement. It also provides opportunities for students to work with some of the nation’s top researchers, he said.
The research institutions together will tackle “some of the greatest challenges in clean energy, smart manufacturing, and environment and sustainability research,” UW President Ana Mari Cauce, said in a statement.
PNNL and the two universities already collaborate on several research efforts.
As part of the Transactive Campus project, they are playing host to clean energy testbeds. In another project, the three research institutions are working on replacing reliance on precious metals in clean energy and transportation technologies with more abundant materials.
In the last four months the three institutions have been awarded multimillion projects by the Department of Energy to bring smart manufacturing technology to energy intensive manufacturing in the Pacific Northwest and to understand the chemistry of radioactive waste to enable better environmental cleanup.
PNNL also has multiple individual research projects with each university.