August 17, 2006
Vol. 25 No. 20

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    DOE awards laboratory contract to UChicago Argonne LLC

    An aerial image of Argonne National Laboratory

    Monday, July 31 was a day of relief and celebration at the University and Argonne National Laboratory, as the Department of Energy announced that it was awarding a contract for the University to manage Argonne for another five years, this time through the newly created UChicago Argonne LLC.

    The University had managed Argonne since the lab’s inception in 1946, but in 2003, the DOE announced that open competitions would be held to choose managers of national laboratories, and the University launched a multi-million dollar effort to win the bid.

    Led by Don Randel, President Emeritus, President Zimmer and Thomas Rosenbaum, Vice President for Research and Argonne National Laboratory and CEO of UChicago Argonne LLC, the team numbered dozens of people at the University and Argonne.

    Vitally important to the effort, according to Rosenbaum, was the inclusion in the new proposal of stronger bonds with the University of Illinois and Northwestern University, as well as the establishment of a partnership with Jacobs Engineering and BWX Technologies. Jacobs Engineering is one of the world’s largest providers of technical, professional and construction services globally, while BWXT is one of the nation’s premier managers of laboratory operations and high-consequence facilities.

    “With our new team we are poised to make ever greater contributions to our country’s welfare. In partnership with the DOE, we will ask the hardest questions, tackle the most important problems and deliver world-class research safely and efficiently. We at the university look forward to ever deeper connections and expanding opportunities with Argonne in the decades to come,” said Rosenbaum, who also is the John T. Wilson Distinguished Service Professor in Physics and the College.

    Argonne is one of the DOE’s major multi-program national laboratories known for its world-class innovations in energy, science, technology, biomedicine and national security. The new team is designed to combine strong scientific leadership with best management practices to support innovation and discovery at Argonne that serves the national interest. The University is the sole member of the LLC, while Northwestern University and the University of Illinois will be involved in the lab’s management through membership on the Argonne National Laboratory Board of Governors.

    “We are very pleased to lead this strong team in managing Argonne for the Department of Energy,” said President Zimmer. “Argonne’s unique facilities and scientific and engineering expertise are vital resources for the development of science and technology and enhancing the energy, economic and national security of the nation.”

    Argonne National Laboratory is one of the nation’s leading federally funded research and development centers, employing approximately 2,900 employees, including about 1,000 scientists and engineers, of whom about 600 hold doctoral degrees. In addition, Argonne’s annual operating budget of about $475 million supports approximately 200 research projects.

    “The University’s open-minded approach and strong intellectual traditions have fostered an effective and symbiotic relationship that will continue to produce future scientific and engineering dividends,” said Robert Rosner, the William E. Wrather Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics and the College, who is president of UChicago Argonne LLC, and Director of Argonne National Laboratory. “This new team combines individual strengths to forge a unique and powerful partnership on behalf of the DOE and the nation.”

    One of Argonne’s important missions is the design, construction and operation of major national user facilities—large, unique facilities used for cutting-edge research by the scientific community. Researchers on site collaborate, both nationally and internationally, with scientists and engineers from universities, research laboratories and corporations.

    The scientific and technical capabilities of Argonne are supplemented not only by important scientific collaborations with the University, but also through collaborations with the economics, social science and public policy programs of the University, thereby bringing multiple perspectives to science, energy and national security issues.

    “Working with the DOE, we are bringing together world-class talent to tackle the most pressing problems facing our nation,” said Rosenbaum. “Our team has responded to the competition by integrating skills from different disciplines—academic and industrial—to set ambitious best-in-class goals and achieve them safely and efficiently.”

    The University’s new partnership with Jacobs Engineering and BWXT strengthens the University’s leadership by bringing outstanding resources to lab management.