Georgia Tech and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Strengthen Research Ties

<p>The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Richland Campus, seen from the north looking south. (Image courtesy of PNNL)</p>

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Richland Campus, seen from the north looking south. (Image courtesy of PNNL)

The Georgia Institute of Technology and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have entered into a formal agreement to bolster the interactions, collaborations, and joint scientific output of both institutions. 

The goals of this collaborative arrangement are to:

  • Solve Big Problems by leveraging the significant infrastructure and intellectual capabilities of both parties in a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional manner.
  • Sustain and Engage Human Capital by exposing a pipeline of talented future members of the workforce to problems of practical importance and complex nature early in their academic programs.
  • Accelerate Technology Adoption by introducing new ideas, science, and technology into the industrial and federal marketplace for the public good.

This five-year agreement was acknowledged during a virtual memorandum of understanding (MOU) signing event on Oct. 23, organized by Georgia Tech’s Strategic Energy Institute (SEI). 

“This MOU provides a basis for both parties to engage in research collaborations, and the joint creation and administration of intellectual property,” said Tim Lieuwen, SEI’s executive director.

Leaders of both institutions emphasized that the MOU leverages existing relationships and takes advantage of synergies. PNNL and Georgia Tech already have a long history of collaboration, with more than 100 journal articles, conference papers, and the like coauthored by PNNL and Georgia Tech researchers over the past decade. PNNL also boasts 32 current staff members who earned a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from Georgia Tech.

The MOU lays out several potential topics of mutual interest to both institutions. 

“Georgia Tech and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory share interests in many areas of science and technology, including data science and visual analytics, electrical grid technologies, cybersecurity, and processing for fuels, chemicals, and materials,” said Chaouki T. Abdallah, Georgia Tech’s executive vice president for research. “Through this MOU, we look forward to expanding our collaborations in these important research areas.”

The MOU also calls for expanded intellectual engagement, with PNNL and Georgia Tech students and researchers having a substantive presence on each other’s campuses, often in the form of joint appointments and internships. Personnel exchanges of this nature typically accelerate research efforts by making available to both parties the unique capabilities, facilities, and research communities that both have to offer.

“The complexity of the research problems we are tackling today requires cooperation among institutions. No one institution can solve the big problems alone,” Tony Peurrung, PNNL’s deputy director for science and technology, said. “We are pleased to elevate our partnership with Georgia Tech because with our combined strengths, we will be better prepared to solve some of world’s most difficult science and technology challenges.”

Several online seminars are planned in the coming months to boost awareness of this agreement among the research communities of both institutions and to foster connections between researchers with similar interests.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory draws on signature capabilities in chemistry, earth sciences, and data analytics to advance scientific discovery and create solutions to the nation's toughest challenges in energy resiliency and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science — the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States — and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

The Georgia Institute of Technology, also known as Georgia Tech, is one of the nation’s leading research universities, providing a focused, technologically based education to more than 36,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The Institute has many nationally recognized programs, all top-ranked by peers and publications alike, and is ranked among the nation’s top public universities by U.S. News & World Report. It offers degrees through the Colleges of Computing, Design, Engineering, Sciences, the Scheller College of Business, and the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. As a leading technological university, Georgia Tech has hundreds of centers focused on interdisciplinary research that consistently contribute vital research and innovation to American government, industry, and business.

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