About the Office of Science
The Office of Science is the single largest federal sponsor of basic research in the physical sciences in the U.S. The Office of Science currently supports approximately 26,000 Ph.D.’s, graduate students, undergraduates, engineers, and technicians at more than 300 U.S. academic institutions and across all of the DOE national laboratories.
The mission of the DOE Office of Science is to deliver the scientific discoveries and major scientific tools that transform our understanding of nature and advance the energy, economic, and national security of the United States. For over 60 years the Office of Science has been called upon to address increasingly critical societal challenges—challenges in energy and the environment that require fundamentally new solutions that can only be achieved by pushing the frontiers of science.
Today’s energy security challenges, coupled with global climate and environmental concerns, call for truly unprecedented levels of activity and dedication by the Office of Science and the scientific communities that it supports. Transformational scientific breakthroughs are essential for the development of entirely new and advanced approaches to technologies for energy production, storage, and use. Likewise, pushing the frontiers of science and technology are necessary for continued U.S. innovation and economic competitiveness. To accomplish this requires sustained investments in exploratory and high-risk fundamental research in traditional and emerging scientific disciplines, including the development of scientific new tools and facilities; targeted investments in high-priority fundamental research areas; and investments that train new generations of scientists and engineers to be leaders in the 21st century.
To this end, the DOE Office of Science supports:
- Science for Discovery focused on unraveling nature’s mysteries—from the study of subatomic particles, atoms, and molecules that make of the materials of our everyday world to DNA, proteins, cells, and entire natural ecosystems;
- Science for National Need focused on advancing a clean energy agenda through basic research on energy production, storage, transmission, and use; and advancing our understanding of the Earth’s climate through basic research in atmospheric and environmental sciences and climate change; and
- National Scientific User Facilities, the 21st century tools of science—providing the Nation’s researchers with the most advanced tools of modern science including accelerators, colliders, supercomputers, light sources and neutron sources, and facilities for studying the nanoworld.
The Office of Science manages this research portfolio through six interdisciplinary program offices:
- Advanced Scientific Computing Research
- Basic Energy Sciences
- Biological and Environmental Research
- Fusion Energy Sciences
- High Energy Physics, and
- Nuclear Physics.
In addition, the Office of Science sponsors a range of workforce development and science education programs, including the DOE Office of Science Graduate Fellowship Program (DOE SCGF) through its Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists.
The Office of Science programs support fundamental research in areas such as condensed matter and materials physics; chemistry; biology; climate and environmental sciences; applied mathematics and computational science; high energy physics and nuclear physics; and plasma physics and fusion energy sciences. The Office of Science also provides the nation’s researchers with state-of-the-art scientific user facilities—the large machines of modern science. These open-access facilities offer capabilities that are unmatched anywhere in the world and enable U.S. researchers and industries to remain at the forefront of science, technology, and innovation. They include electron and proton accelerators and colliders for probing matter on scales from the subatomic to the macroscopic; the world’s forefront neutron scattering facility and the world’s best suite of synchrotron light sources for probing the structure and function of materials; and the world’s largest and fastest computational resources devoted to the most challenging societal problems of our time. These facilities also include technologically advanced, large-scale field sites for investigating the effects of clouds and aerosols on atmospheric radiation; comprehensively equipped nanoscience and molecular science centers; facilities for rapid genome sequencing and integrated environmental molecular sciences; and facilities for investigating the plasma state and its properties for stable fusion systems.
Over 25,000 researchers from universities, national laboratories, industry, and international partners use the Office of Science scientific user facilities annually. Open access to the scientific user facilities, located at DOE national laboratories and universities, is provided on a proposal basis and applicants to the DOE SCGF program are encouraged to consider how use of these facilities may advance their proposed graduate research.
The Office of Science also manages 10 world-class national laboratories: Argonne National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Ames Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.