Department of Energy's Office of Science unveils 20-year vision for the future of basic research


WASINGTON, DC -- The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science today unveiled its Strategic Plan, which charts a course for science over the next two decades that promises dramatic increases in knowledge and scientific achievements. The DOE's Office of Science is the nation's largest supporter of the physical sciences and a major contributor to other vital areas of basic research that underpin national security and economic prosperity.

"Major advances in science including new materials, advanced computational simulations and new ways to produce energy, underpin all of the Department of Energy's missions," Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham said. "DOE's Office of Science has developed a bold Strategic Plan that holds the promise of leapfrogging our current capabilities and keeping the United States in a leadership position in the international competition for new ideas and technologies."

The plan sets seven short-term (5-10 year) scientific priorities: the ITER fusion science experiment, scientific discovery through advanced scientific computing, using nanoscale science for new materials and processes, microbial genomics, physics to explore the basic forces of creation, exploring new forms of nuclear matter, and developing the facilities for the future of science.

The plan also sets seven long-term (10-20 year) scientific goals in the areas of: science for energy; harnessing biology for energy and environment; fusion; fundamentals of energy, matter and time; nuclear physics research from quarks to the stars; computation for the frontiers of science; and, building resource foundations for new science.

The Office of Science Strategic Plan has been developed so that progress toward these and other scientific programs can be tracked over the next two decades. The plan lays out "Strategic Timelines" for DOE's Office of Science basic research programs that project over the next 20 years the science that could be delivered. The plan also includes 'Key Indicators of Success' that are tied to the Office of Science's goals, its FY 2005 budget, and the performance of its program managers. The plan is linked to the Office of Management and Budget Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) process and contains performance metrics that are directly linked to the PART review.

"This Strategic Plan will enable us to help accomplish the missions of the Department of Energy in national security, energy and environment, while building upon five decades of scientific excellence and providing a blueprint for scientific discovery well into the 21st Century," Secretary Abraham said.

Dr. Raymond L. Orbach, Director of DOE's Office of Science said, "Our emphasis on the emerging area of nanoscience, for example, requires advances in new analytical tools and the creation of entirely new ways of conducting science that could lead to major breakthroughs in energy production and environmental cleanup, all of which are outlined in our Strategic Plan. Similarly, we have mapped a path forward in plasma science that could result in a commercially viable fusion energy option that would be a huge step toward making our Nation energy independent for centuries to come.

We worked very closely with the U.S. scientific community to identify the scientific programs the Office of Science should pursue over the next two decades that will enable our Nation to stay at the forefront of innovation."

The Office of Science Strategic Plan is a companion to the previously released document, Facilities for the Future of Science: A Twenty-Year Outlook. Both documents look ahead to the needs of the U.S. scientific community over the next two decades and identify the steps that the DOE's Office of Science must take to ensure that the U.S. scientific enterprise remains at the forefront of innovation and discovery, and that DOE's vital missions are accomplished.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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