The challenges of modernizing our nuclear stockpile demand a strong and diverse base of national expertise and educational opportunities in specialized technical areas that uniquely contribute to nuclear stockpile stewardship. The Academic Programs of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Defense Programs are designed to support academic programs in science and engineering disciplines of critical importance to the Nuclear Security Enterprise (NSE), such as nuclear science, radiochemistry, materials at extreme conditions, high energy density science, advanced manufacturing, and high performance computing. In addition, building a diverse workforce will strengthen our stewardship of the future.

Academic Programs and Community Support

Academic Programs and Community Support has seven strategic objectives:

  1. Strengthen key fields of research relevant to the nuclear security mission through scientific advancement
  2. Drive scientific and technical innovation within the academic community that can be leveraged by NNSA laboratories
  3. Develop the next generation of diverse, highly trained, technical workers able to support DOE/NNSA’s core missions
  4. Ensure a diverse and robust cadre of experts trained in disciplines vital to the nuclear security enterprise (NSE) who are eligible to work at the highest levels of nuclear security
  5. Maintain technical expertise external to the NSE that can be leveraged to provide advice, cross-check, and peer review
  6. Expand the pool of workforce talent in the NSE by taking a more comprehensive and integrated approach to academic pipeline development
  7. Provide benefits to disadvantaged communities, including Tribal Nations and rural communities, that are affected by activities at NNSA sites.

The Academic Programs and Community Support enables robust and diverse science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) research for educational communities through a variety of methods of support to achieve the goals. Investments in Consortia and Centers of Excellence provide collaborative groups to tackle large questions through multi-disciplinary approaches and leverage preeminent scientists in relevant fields. Research grants and Focused Investigatory Centers support individual principal investigators to foster a vibrant community responsive to new breakthroughs by providing flexibility for new ideas, diversity, and career growth. Specific support to minority and tribal serving institutions prepares a diverse workforce of world class talent through strategic partnerships. Fellowships provide graduate students with key opportunities to connect with the NNSA missions and provide direct experiences at the NSE sites. User Facilities open opportunities for academic partners to use NNSA's cutting edge research facilities and push frontiers of current scientific understanding. All Academic Programs and Community Support opportunities focus on quality science through competitive award, connection with NNSA mission work at national security laboratories and nuclear weapons production facilities, and a view to the NSE’s future needs and opportunities.

The Academic Programs is comprised of five subprograms: