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Distributed June 27, 2006
Contact Wendy Lawton

Brown, Oak Ridge Team Up for Materials Science Research

Brown University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have established a formal affiliation to support research and teaching with an emphasis in materials science, an area of strength at both institutions.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Brown University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have established a collaborative relationship to advance research and teaching, with an emphasis in materials science.

Under a memorandum of agreement, approved by the Corporation of Brown University and signed by Provost Robert J. Zimmer and ORNL Director Jeffrey Wadsworth, the two institutions can exchange faculty and conduct joint research. ORNL staff can teach courses at Brown, while Brown graduate students can spend some of their research time at ORNL.

The affiliation takes advantage of considerable expertise in materials science at both institutions.

Brown has strong programs in physics, chemistry and engineering and is home to the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, one of 29 research and education centers funded by the National Science Foundation for the investigation of new materials for commercial use as well as the training of the next generation of materials scientists. Brown also supports the Center for Advanced Materials Research, which fosters research and teaching in materials science across the campus and across the country. The center features several shared facilities, including microelectronics, electron microscopy, and a laboratory for nano- and micromechanics.

ORNL is the Department of Energy’s largest multipurpose science and energy laboratory. Managed by a partnership of the University of Tennessee and Battelle, ORNL is an international leader in materials science. ORNL is home to the world’s most powerful electron microscope, which can be used to study defects in materials at the atomic scale. ORNL recently completed construction of the Spallation Neutron Source, which will provide the most intense pulsed neutron beams in the world for scientific research and industrial development. Work at the $1.4-billion complex will help create high-temperature superconductors, powerful lightweight magnets, aluminum bridge decks, and stronger, lighter plastic products. 

“The advantages of this collaboration for Brown are significant,” Zimmer said. “Oak Ridge National Laboratory contains scientific expertise and instrumentation that cannot be reproduced by any university in the country. Our students and faculty will directly benefit from new research opportunities and enhanced education. This is an exciting moment for science at Brown.”

“Teaming with Brown enhances our capabilities for joint faculty appointments, shared research and major new science initiatives,” Wadsworth said. “Bringing the university’s graduate students here helps ORNL recruit the next generation of scientists. We look forward to seeing this collaborative relationship grow.”

The formal agreement is built on the success of recent collaborations between Brown and ORNL, including joint faculty research, teaching, and student work at ORNL.

The initial agreement between Brown and ORNL is for a term of three years and may be extended by mutual agreement. While the initial focus of the affiliation will be in materials science, its reach can be expanded into other areas of scientific inquiry, such as energy and computational biology.

The collaboration comes at a time of expansion for both institutions.

New facilities at ORNL include the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, the Advanced Microscopy Laboratory and the Laboratory for Comparative and Functional Genomics. A new 300,000 square foot building houses the National Leadership Computing Facility, where the world’s fastest supercomputer is being built.

Brown is enlarging its faculty, improving graduate student support and expanding laboratory and academic space. Brown recently created several major research initiatives, such as the Center for Computational Molecular Biology and the Center for Genomics and Proteomics, and two years ago formed a research partnership with the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Mass.

“This affiliation builds on our efforts over the last five years to raise the University’s research profile and to enhance our support for the discovery and dissemination of scientific knowledge,” said Clyde L. Briant, the outgoing dean of Brown’s Division of Engineering, who will become vice president for research at Brown on July 1, 2006. “And the fit with Oak Ridge is perfect. We share research strengths as well as a commitment to cross-disciplinary research.”

Brown University

Brown University is an Ivy League institution with a distinctive undergraduate academic program, renowned faculty, outstanding graduate and medical students, and a tradition of innovative and rigorous multidisciplinary study. Founded in 1764, Brown was the third college in New England and the seventh in America. Today, Brown is moving forward with initiatives for academic enrichment that will enlarge the faculty by at least 100 members, improve support for graduate students, and invest in libraries, information technology, new multidisciplinary academic centers, and expanded laboratory and academic space.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is the Department of Energy’s largest multipurpose science and energy laboratory, with a staff of more than 4,000 and an annual budget exceeding $1 billion. Managed since April 2000 by a partnership of the University of Tennessee and Battelle, ORNL was established in 1943 as a part of the secret Manhattan Project to pioneer a method for producing and separating plutonium. ORNL is a leader in a range of scientific areas that support the Department of Energy’s mission, including neutron science, energy, high-performance computing, systems biology, national security and materials science at the nanoscale. ORNL is in the final stages of a $300 million project to provide a modern campus for the next generation of great science.


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