U.S. Department of Energy designates FRIB as DOE Office of Science user facility

Sep 30, 2020

The U.S. Department of Energy has designated the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams at Michigan State University a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science user facility. U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette announced the designation at a special ceremony held at MSU in a tent adjacent to FRIB on the 29th of September.

DOE Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar was on hand for the ceremony and joins me on MSU today.

“That means the facility is open for researchers at MSU, elsewhere in Michigan, and around the nation and world,” says Dabbar. “We make a conscious effort to build our facilities in places where they can be opened up for users. The way people get access to FRIB is they have to submit and pitch proposals. We then select available time for researchers to come and use the facility based on their scientific merit.”

Dabbar says FRIB will play a role in strengthening the innovation presence of the United States globally, like in the life sciences.

“Physics is at the core of DOE, and MSU has the top-rated nuclear physics program. Many people think mainly of nuclear power or strategic weapons when they think of nuclear physics. Understanding the symmetry and the architecture of individual isotopes and molecules around the isotopes and how they might be used and how they're imaged and how they work is a clear part of what I would call the discovery science side. On the applied side, life sciences is the biggest one of the practical applications of this work that we do.”

Dabbar describes how FRIB can impact the next generation of scientific leaders and how important it is for the Office of Science that FRIB is located in the middle of a research-intensive university campus allowing students to become attracted to accelerator technology and engineering.

He participated in a round table discussion with manufacturers who described the impact of participating in FRIB and their own businesses and their local economies.

“I really sensed the pride from everyone involved in the project. This is a facility that will drive science and they want to be involved in a project that can help save people's lives. The various owners of the various businesses from around Michigan and elsewhere who I met with were unanimous in their pride in participating.

“I think America and the world have a very interesting set of initiatives coming up, whether it's Quantum information technologies or us getting to Mars or clean energy innovation. I think from a technology point of view, there are amazing opportunities for students on the horizon. And FRIB is absolutely a portion of that driving innovation in physics and driving innovation for healthcare. This overall momentum has me excited. And I think it gets a lot of people excited at MSU and around the world.”

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