Samueli School Establishes Collaborative Partnership with Los Alamos National Laboratory

UCI faculty from engineering and physical sciences along with LANL scientists participated in a hybrid format research forum at ISEB, as part of a new collaborative partnership between the Samueli School and the national lab.

Jan. 31, 2022 - The Samueli School of Engineering has launched a new initiative that aims to increase research collaboration between faculty and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories, create educational opportunities and enhance workforce development in critical areas of research of national interest. The UCI-National Labs Connections initiative kicked off Dec. 2-3, 2021, with a two-day information and ideas exchange between faculty and scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Similar partnerships with other DOE labs are planned for the future.

The first day of the event featured keynote speaker John Sarrao, deputy director for science, technology and engineering at LANL, who presented an overview of research taking place at the national lab and the broad range of overlapping interests between UCI and Los Alamos.

“Robust partnerships with leading research universities such as UCI are essential in advancing research frontiers and attracting our future workforce,” said Sarrao.

Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, UCI Distinguished Professor and Samueli School associate dean of research and innovation, moderated a follow-up discussion, focusing on the vision and prospects of the initiative. Pramod Khargonekar, UCI vice chancellor for research and UCI Distinguished Professor in electrical engineering and computer science, said, “There is compelling proof of the potential for mutually beneficial collaborations between LANL researchers and UCI faculty.”

John Sarrao, deputy director for science, technology and engineering at LANL, speaks to students showcasing their senior design project at the the Samueli School’s Fall Design Review.

The second day of the event included a research forum centered around three main themes: climate and environmental systems modeling; renewable energy research, development and deployment; and materials and chemical research. More than 100 faculty, researchers and students attended the forum, held in a hybrid in-person/virtual format, and it was hosted at the new Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building (ISEB). Multidisciplinary teams of faculty along with LANL scientists and engineers presented and discussed topics including fires and climate adaptation, clean energy and hydrogen engineered systems, manufacturing science and structured materials, and chemical research and quantum materials. (Presentations are available under Quick Links.)

As a result of the successful interactions over the two days, the Samueli School of Engineering established three named fellowships to be awarded, starting in 2022. The UCI Engineering-Los Alamos National Lab graduate fellowships will be competitive fellowships overseen by a joint UCI-LANL committee and will be awarded in the three broad areas of climate and environment, renewable energy, and materials and chemical research.

“The opportunities for research exchange and career paths of young talent at the national labs is staggering,” said Foufoula-Georgiou. “Strengthening connections through these fellowships is certain to bring big dividends in the future, especially given the diverse student body of UCI and its exceptional strength in the areas of climate and environment, renewable energy and materials.”

“By leveraging the talent, expertise and commitment across our respective organizations, we will be able to have real impact on some of the most important questions we are facing as a nation,” said Magnus Egerstedt, Stacey Nicholas Dean of Engineering at UCI. “I am very excited to see this collaboration take off.”

– Lori Brandt