U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Domestic Nuclear Detection Office
Nuclear Forensics Minority Serving Institution Collaboration Award Program
2014 NF-MSI cycle is now closed
Administered by the South Carolina Universities Research and Education Foundation
This program description was prepared under Cooperative Agreement 2012-DN-130-NF0001 between The United States Department of Homeland Security and the South Carolina Universities Research and Education Foundation.
1. Background and Introduction
PLEASE NOTE THE DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS FOR THE NF/MSI HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO 4/15/14.
The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) has established the Nuclear Forensics Minority Serving Institution Collaboration Award Program (NF/MSI) to strengthen the engineering and science programs at Minority Serving Institutions (MSI)1 located throughout the United States (U.S.) and to enhance the partnerships between these institutions and other U.S. universities with established academic programs in scientific disciplines relevant to nuclear forensics. The objective is to increase the participation of MSIs in the National Nuclear Forensics Expertise Development Program (NNFEDP), of which this initiative is a part, and accelerate the involvement of minorities in the U.S. Government nuclear forensics mission.
Nuclear forensics is a top U.S. national security priority. Congress recognized the critical need for nuclear forensics experts to support this mission in the Nuclear Forensics and Attribution Act (P.L. 111-140), which the President signed on February 16, 2010. In addition, world leaders highlighted nuclear forensics as a key area for progress during the 2010, 2012, and 2014 Nuclear Security Summits. Developing and sustaining an enduring expertise pipeline and workforce is one of the most important objectives of the nuclear forensics community today.
As a key component of the broader NNFEDP, the NF/MSI Program has two objectives. First, it supports the enhancement of undergraduate and/or graduate Chemistry, Math, Physics, and Engineering programs located at MSIs (to include curriculum development, instruction, student support, and related activities). Second, it aims to establish formal linkages among the universities currently participating in the Nuclear Forensics Graduate Fellowship Program, the nation's MSIs, and the Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories, which are engaged in nuclear forensics research.
1 Minority Serving Institutions include the following: Alaska Native, Asian American and Native American, Pacific Islander, Hawaiian Native, Hispanic, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
2. Sponsorship and Technical Mission Areas
Set at a maximum of $75,000 a year per award for a three-year period, awards can be used to support faculty salaries, student scholarships and fellowships, travel, laboratory and equipment improvements, coursework, and any suggested academic program enhancements in activities among the universities and with the listed national laboratories.
The overarching goal of the NF/MSI is to help meet U.S. Government needs for a diverse and highly trained workforce in priority technical areas for nuclear forensics research and development. These areas include:
1. Technical Mission Area 1 (TMA 1): In general, the NTNF community is interested in advancements in the analysis and characterization of nuclear and other radioactive materials. Of particular importance are innovations in the speed, accuracy, and precision of determining the physical, chemical, isotopic, micro-structural, and/or morphological properties of materials. Specifically, the USG is primarily seeking significant developments in the quantification of micro-structural and morphological measurements of bulk uranium and plutonium materials in both oxide and metal forms.
2. Technical Mission Area 2 (TMA 2): Following the detonation of a nuclear device, solid debris samples to be analyzed are expected to contain trace-level quantities of nuclear materials combined with material from the immediate environment around the detonation site, which may have been activated and is assumed to have been vaporized and re-condensed. As such, debris for dissolution is expected to have formed at high temperatures and contain silicates and other hard-to-dissolve materials. Solid fallout debris is typically in a glassy matrix containing parts per million (ppm) quantities of plutonium or uranium with radioactive fission products. Improvements are sought in the characterization and analysis of nuclear and non-nuclear constituents within these nuclear and post-detonation debris materials, including those present in trace quantities.
3. Technical Mission Area 3 (TMA 3): General studies that improve our understanding of how relevant stages of the nuclear fuel cycle create, persist, or modify discriminating material characteristics in the metal or oxide forms of uranium or plutonium. Research and educational activities should focus on identifying discriminating characteristics that help assess the process history and provenance of bulk uranium and plutonium materials produced in the enrichment, conversion to oxides, and conversion to metal stages of the fuel cycle, and developing simulations that predict material characteristics from parameterized processes.
3. Program Requirements
In completing the application for this award, applicants should be familiar with the following requirements:
A. Proposals must support a graduate-level program and/or a B.S.-level program, which prepares students to transition into a graduate program in nuclear forensics related discipline.
B. A direct, formalized agreement must be established between the MSI, a NFGFP university(s), and a participating national laboratory. Generally, this can be accomplished through a written articulation agreement among these institutions.
C. Special consideration must be given to the incorporation of student internship and cooperative research opportunities at the national laboratories.
D. The proposing MSI universities must make provisions for cost-sharing, which may include in-kind expenditures. Cost-sharing provisions should be documented to include at least 50 percent of the annual award.
E. Indirect costs must be waived on all stipends and tuition and fee payments. The waiver of these indirect costs can be counted as a part of the cost-share.
F. Any faculty member or student receiving funds from this award must be a U.S. citizen. Non-U.S. citizens may assist with the administration of the program, but cannot be directly funded under the award.
4. Program Administration
The South Carolina Universities Research and Education Foundation (SCUREF) provides administrative assistance to DHS/DNDO in the management of this program. SCUREF is a 501c3 Corporation founded in 1988 to support federal agency goals relative to the development of nuclear science and engineering programs. Over the course of the past several years, SCUREF has provided additional assistance to DHS, DOE, and the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The programs managed by SCUREF for these offices include undergraduate research programs, laboratory internships, graduate fellowships, educational and research award programs, directed faculty programs, and distinguished scientist awards. Program funds for these activities are included in Cooperative Agreements that SCUREF has with DHS, DOE, DOD, NRC, and Operations Offices in Savannah River and Idaho.
Questions about the program, whether technical or non-technical, may be submitted by mail, telephone, facsimile, or by email to the following office. SCUREF staff will assist potential applicants in establishing partnerships. Application materials should be submitted to the following address:
Nuclear Forensics Minority Serving Institutions Collaboration Award Program
South Carolina Universities Research and Education Foundation
1204 Whiskey Rd. Suite F
Aiken, SC 29803-4322
The NF/MSI Program is guided by all DHS financial assistance regulations (OMB Circulars A-110, A-21), which describe policies and procedures to be used when DHS provides grants for basic and applied research, educational and/or training activities, and other related activities.
5. SUBMISSION AND ANNOUNCEMENT DATES FOR CY2014
Applications are due April 4, 2014. The award will be announced and awarded by approximately late April 2014.
6. AWARD AMOUNTS AND EXTENSIONS
During this award cycle, the review panel will rank the completed applications. This ranking will be based on the evaluation criteria (see section 10). It is expected that one application receiving meritorious ranking will receive a maximum of $75,000 per year for a three-year period. This award can continue to be renewed for a total of three years as long as the program meets its stated objectives. Initial awards and renewals are dependent upon the continued availability of funding.
7. Application Overview
Applications should present a general scope of the educational program plan. This includes a proposed plan of action including the academic partnership(s) with a university that has an existing nuclear forensics program and linkages with one or more national laboratories. The proposal needs to clearly demonstrate a planned curriculum that students will follow. Applications also need to indicate the amount of funds, which will be dedicated to supporting students, faculty, and administrators for various purposes. Funds can be used to support faculty salaries, student scholarships and fellowships, travel, laboratory and equipment improvements, coursework, and any suggested academic program enhancements in activities among the universities and with the listed national laboratories. Because this is a competitive application process, use of the attached form is mandatory.
As stated above, the application must be submitted on-line at the SCUREF website. Elaborate presentations are not desired. Do not include documents in the body of the application that will not reproduce. The following is a list of items required in the application.
A. Cover Page: The Cover Page must be completed and signed by the Principal Investigator and by an official who is authorized to act for the applicants' university in committing the applicant to comply with the terms and conditions of the award, if awarded.
B. Application Summary: This space should be limited to 200 words or less. The applicant should provide an overview of the work to be performed and how this work will enhance and maintain a collaborative or singular education program(s) related to nuclear forensics. All highlights of the proposal should be listed here. The information provided on the Summary Page may be used as a public information document. Please do not include any proprietary information in this section of the application.
C. Narrative: This is the main body of the application and should provide clear and specific statements regarding the proposed work. The description of work should follow closely what is being evaluated; please refer to Section 10 titled Evaluation Criteria. The Narrative Section is limited to 6 pages and must be typed with at least one-inch margins, double- spaced, using a font size no smaller than 11. If proprietary or privileged information is provided in the Narrative, please indicate this by providing specific notation that this information should be kept confidential (see Section 8 regarding proprietary information). Please provide the name of the institution and the Principal Investigator on all additional Narrative pages.
D. Letters of Support: This program requires that associations be established with a university participating in the Nuclear Forensics Graduate Fellowship Program and a Participating National Laboratory. (A listing of these participating institutions can be found at the end of this solicitation.) These associations need to be described in the Narrative. In addition, a single letter of support needs to be included with the application. The letter of support should describe the activities to be performed and how it relates to one or more of the technical areas. The letter should be signed by the principal institutional contact.
E. Budget Proposal: Please note that Award Cost, Cost-Share, and Budget Explanation have separate sections in the Budget Proposal. These sections ask for information regarding how funds will be spent for the three-year period of the award. All budget periods are for 12 months in length with two potential renewals for a three-year total period. Since it is expected that the awards will be announced on or before April 30, 2014, the award can begin on that date, however it cannot start later than September 30, 2014. In developing the project's budget, please show dollar amounts, which relate to "Personnel, Facilities, Equipment, and/or Laboratory Costs" and "Coursework, Communications, Materials, Travel and/or Miscellaneous Items." As noted, the Cost Proposal Guidelines have been separated into three sections. (1) Award Costs is requesting cost information related to the direct expenditures of the award. (2) Cost-Share is requesting information on the university's willingness to contribute part of its resources to the program. The cost-share must be a minimum of 50 percent of the total award. In-kind costs, fringe benefits and other costs, which are normally associated with indirect costs, can be included as a part of the cost-share amount. It is a requirement of the program that all indirect costs on students stipends and tuition and fees be waived, but these waived indirect costs can be included as a part of the cost-share amount. (3) Budget Explanation is requesting written justification sufficient to evaluate the costs of the proposed activities. It is expected that most applicants will want to allocate travel funds for visits to partner universities and national laboratory facilities. The rationale for these expenses should be explained in this section and in the Narrative. Foreign travel, under most circumstances, will not be approved. The program administrators may request additional budgetary information from the applicant.
F. Identification of Key Personnel: The names of the Principal Investigator(s), key personnel, and other individuals must be provided in the application. Brief Curriculum Vitae (limited to two pages) for each individual involved in the project needs to be included. If an individual is to be hired using the funds from this award, a job description and a listing of the minimum requirements for the position should be given. Please note that any faculty member or student receiving funds from this award must be a U.S. citizen. Non-U.S. citizens may assist with the administration of the program, but cannot be directly funded under the award.
8. Proprietary Information
An application that results in an award becomes part of the reporting records for SCUREF and can be made available to the public, except as described below. Specified information or material may be kept confidential to the extent permitted by law, including the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552). Without assuming any liability for inadvertent disclosure, SCUREF will seek to limit dissemination of such information to its employees and, when necessary for evaluation of the application, to outside reviewers.
Any information such as technical data, trade secrets, and/or privileged or confidential commercial or financial information which the applicant does not want disclosed to the public or used by the Government for any purpose other than application evaluation must be identified. To protect such data, the applicant should specifically identify each page including each line or paragraph containing the data to be protected.
9. Application Solicitation, Receopt, Processing, and Review
Applications for this program will be directly distributed to all MSIs throughout the United States. This distribution will include direct mailings and email notices. Applications can also be found on the SCUREF website (www.scuref.org). SCUREF staff will be available to assist all potential applicants in the completion of their applications.
Once an application is received by SCUREF, a complete administrative review will commence. This review will include ensuring that all required information and signatures have been completed and submitted. SCUREF will notify the applicant if any necessary information is missing. Once an application is deemed complete, the applicant will be notified. SCUREF will then distribute the completed applications to an independent panel of experts for review. Panel members are technical experts from national laboratories and universities who are intimately familiar with DHS/DNDO nuclear forensics programs. Applicants may withdraw an application by written request at any time.
The panel will report an approved list of applicants to SCUREF. SCUREF, in turn, will review this list and provide recommendations on the awards to DHS. SCUREF reserves the right to make recommendations on awards based on merit, DHS mission goals, and geographical considerations such as an applicant's proximity to the university and laboratory(s) they plan to collaborate with. No more than one award, per year, will go to any university.
10. Evaluation Criteria
All applications will be evaluated using the following criteria. As previously mentioned, the Narrative Section of the application should closely follow these criteria.
A. Are the personnel assigned to this proposed program qualified and committed to a long-term collaborative or institutional educational program in nuclear forensics? Is the collaboration among universities and national laboratories clearly stated and does it include a realistic schedule?
B. Is the educational program plan a sound one? Does it fill in gaps in regard to coursework, laboratory needs, new staff, etc.?
C. Is the education program plan integrated in its approach? Are all universities and collaborative laboratories contributing to the plan?
D. Is the program designed to educate students at an undergraduate and/or graduate level in scientific and/or technical disciplines relevant to nuclear forensics?
E. Are provisions made in the application, which would encourage student and faculty interactions with technical staff at national laboratories?
F. Is the requested funding realistic? Does the budget match a realistic expenditure for the items outlined? Are the cost-sharing arrangements applicable and in line with the requirements of the program? Have the indirect costs on stipends and tuition and fee payments been waived?
G. Is it apparent that there is institutional support for the proposed program? Does it appear that the educational program plan follows a pattern of growth and commitment? Is there a multi-year schedule that shows how the institution will build upon progress each year in specific areas?
H. Is there a statement that indicates the long-term viability of the program?
11. Award Administration
Following DHS selection of the awards, SCUREF will notify each applicant regarding the disposition of their application. Applicants not receiving an award who wish to receive comments regarding how their applications were evaluated by the panel may request written feedback by contacting SCUREF.
DHS reserves the right to fund, in whole or in part, any, all or none of the applications submitted. All extensions of awards are also based on similar reservations including the continuing availability of funds.
Each award recipient is required to provide an annual report to SCUREF. The deadlines for these reports will be specified in the award letter. Extension requests can be included as a part of the annual report. Specifications of the contents of these reports will also be given in the award letter. All annual reports must describe progress and accomplishments achieved during the previous year.
The award recipient must immediately notify SCUREF if for any reason the university is not able to perform the tasks as they were outlined in the proposal. In addition, SCUREF must be notified, as soon as possible, if there is a decrease in the costs as they were listed in the proposal. It is unlikely that any cost increases will be approved.
- Nuclear Forensics Minority Serving Institution Collaboration Award Program
- Nuclear Forensics Minority Serving Institution Collaboration Award Program
- Background and Introduction
- Sponsorship and Technical Mission Areas
- Program Requirements
- Program Administration
- Application Overview
- Proprietary Information
- Application Solicitation, Receopt, Processing, and Review
- Evaluation Criteria
- Award Administration