U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Domestic Nuclear Detection Office
Nuclear Forensics Education Award Program
NFEAP 2014-2015 application cycle now closed
Administered by the South Carolina Universities Research and Education Foundation
This program description was prepared under Grant Number 2012-DN-130-NF001 between The United States Department of Homeland Security and the South Carolina Universities Research and Education Foundation.
1. Background and Introduction
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) established the Nuclear Forensics Education Award Program (NFEAP) in 2009 to encourage universities to develop interdisciplinary programs in partnership with national laboratories that support and advance the science and technology associated with nuclear forensics. Enhanced academic programs in nuclear forensics-related disciplines will help develop a new generation of highly skilled experts to augment the workforce in this specialized technical field.
Nuclear forensics is a top U.S. national security priority. Congress recognized the critical need for first-rate 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 both the 2010 and 2012 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 National Nuclear Forensics Expertise Development Program (NNFEDP), the NFEAP aims to enhance the viability of nuclear forensics-related education in the United States. The program awards cost-shared grants to colleges and universities to support educational programs in analytical, geological, and radiochemistry; nuclear physics and engineering; and materials science.
2. Sponsorship and Technical Mission Areas
2. Sponsorship and Technical Mission Areas
Set at a maximum of $100,000 per year renewable for a three-year period, universities may use the NFEAP award to develop nuclear forensics curriculum and research programs which complement ongoing research at the national laboratories, construct and/or improve on-campus laboratory facilities, enhance faculty member qualifications or hire new faculty, sponsor students, and make other improvements that align with U.S. Government nuclear forensics mission priorities.
Relevant areas for technical research 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. The U.S. Government 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. FY2013 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.
NFEAP applicants should also be familiar with the following objectives:
A. Proposed programs should support educational activities at the graduate level.
B. Special consideration is given to programs that encourage interactions with ongoing DHS, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) nuclear forensics activities. In particular, interactions (e.g., summer training activities or co-operative education programs, internships, etc.) that include hands-on participation in nuclear forensics activities at national laboratory facilities or are performed in conjunction with projects supported by Federal agencies engaged in these areas are encouraged.
C. Interdisciplinary programs, which include combining science and engineering disciplines, are strongly encouraged. Chemistry Departments working with Nuclear Engineering programs are of particular value.
D. The type of support requested should be designed to enhance a sustainable viability for analytical chemistry, geological chemistry, and radiochemistry; nuclear physics and engineering; and materials science at host universities. An optimized mix of faculty, student, and institutional support is encouraged.
E. Multiple applications will be accepted from the same institution. However, a maximum of one award will be made to any given institution, regardless of the merit of the applications.
3. Program Requirements
Eligibility for awards in this program is restricted to accredited colleges and universities in the United States and Puerto Rico. Applications should be directed toward enhancing a nuclear forensics program that is designed to support the mission goals of the U.S. Government. In addition, applicants are required to meet the following:
A. The applicant institution must outline provisions for cost-sharing, which may include in-kind expenditures. Cost-sharing provisions shall be documented to include at least 50 percent of the annual award.
B. Indirect costs must be waived; however, these costs can be counted as a part of the cost-share.
C. The Principal Investigator and all other key personnel who will be directly supported by this award must be U.S. citizens.
4. Program Administration
On behalf of the program sponsors, the South Carolina Universities Research and Education Foundation (SCUREF) administers the NFEAP awards through its contractor, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). SCUREF was formed in 1989 by four research universities located in South Carolina and has been involved in the administration of national and regional university education and research programs since its founding. SCUREF is a non-profit 501(c)(3) Organization. (Forms 1023 and 990 are available to the public upon request).
It is the policy of SCUREF and its contractor, MUSC, to recruit and nominate participants without regard to race, age, gender, religion, color, national origin, physical or mental disability, or special disabled or veteran status.
Questions about the program, technical or non-technical, may be submitted by telephone or e-mail to Dr. Michael G. Schmidt, 843-792-532, email@example.com.
All applications are due on or before August 1, 2013. Awards will be announced in September 2013 with funding commencing on January 1, 2014.
5. Application Overview
Applicants should present a general scope of the intended educational program plan. This includes a proposed plan of action, which outlines elements such as the hiring of new faculty members, providing support for current faculty members, developing postdoctoral and/or graduate research positions, enhancing coursework for nuclear forensics-related academic programs, and/or integrating academic programs and activities with national laboratories. Each activity area should clearly state how it supports the overall objective of improving the academic program, as it relates to nuclear forensics. Using the application forms provided on www.scuref.org/forms (or an official hard copy in pdf) is mandatory, as awards are selected on a competitive basis. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for an official pdf of the application, if needed.
Elaborate presentations are not desired. The following is a list of items that must be present in each application:
A. Cover Page: This should be completed and signed by the Principal Investigator and a university official who, if the application is awarded, is authorized to act on behalf of the institution and is able to commit the applicant to the terms and conditions of the award.
B. Application Summary: This space is limited to 200 words or less. Applicants should provide an overview of the work to be performed and how this work will enhance and maintain a nuclear forensics education program at their university. 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. This section should demonstrate the applicant's understanding of technical nuclear forensics as a scientific discipline and how the proposed program aligns with U.S. Government research priorities as stated on pages two-three. The narrative should include how the program will facilitate the awarding of graduate and/or doctoral degrees in engineering and/or the natural and physical sciences with appropriate concentrations in a nuclear forensics-related discipline. Please include a proposed timeline, listing milestones as appropriate, which will result in the increased strength, visibility, and sustainability of the program. Please also articulate how the program will offer opportunities for underrepresented minority groups and women. The description of work should demonstrate congruency with the Evaluation Criteria (please refer to Section 8).
The Narrative section is limited to 10 pages and must be typed with at least one-inch margins using a font size of at least 10-point. If proprietary or privileged information is included in the Narrative, please provide a specific notation indicating what information should be kept confidential (please refer to Section 6). Please provide page numbers, the name of the institution and the Principal Investigator on all Narrative pages.
D. Budget Proposal: Financial Assistance Awards are based on what will occur over the duration of the grant. The applicant will note that Award Cost, Cost-Share, and Budgetary Explanation have been divided within the Budget Proposal section. Information must be included 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 extensions. Because it is expected that the awards will be announced in September 2013, the award begin date can be indicated as early as January 1, 2014 but should not start later than April 30, 2014. In presenting the project budget, please show dollar amounts under the following categories (see forms in Appendix): Personnel; Travel; Facilities, Equipment, and/or Laboratory Cost; and Coursework, Communication, Materials, and Miscellaneous Items. As noted, the Cost Proposal Guidelines have been separated into three sections. (1) Award Costs requests cost information related to the direct expenditures of the award. (2) Cost-Share requests 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 be waived, but these costs can be included as a part of the cost-share amount. (3) Budget Justification requests sufficient information for the review panel to evaluate the costs of the proposed activities. It is expected that most applicants will allocate travel funds for visits to national laboratory facilities. The reasons for incurring such expenses should be explained in this section and in the Narrative. Foreign travel, under most circumstances, will not be approved for this program. Program administrators retain the right to request additional budgetary information from the applicant.
E. Identification of Key Personnel: The names of the Principal Investigator(s), key personnel, and other qualified individuals must be provided in the application. Brief Curriculum Vitae (limited to two pages) for each individual involved in the project should also be included. If an individual will be hired using the funds from the award, an appropriate job description listing the minimum requirements for the position should be supplied.
6. 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. Information or material an awardee deems confidential will 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, MUSC 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 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 requiring protection.
7. Application Solicitation, Receipt, Processing and Review
Requests for applications to this program are directly distributed to Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Nuclear Engineering programs in the United States and Puerto Rico. Notices regarding the program are posted in national publications. Application materials and scoring criteria may also be found on the website maintained by SCUREF and its contractor, MUSC (www.scuref.org). SCUREF/MUSC staff is available to assist potential applicants in the completion of their applications. DHS, SCUREF, and MUSC will not pay pre-application or pre-award costs in the administration of this program.
A comprehensive administrative review will commence after an application is received by MUSC. This review will assure that all required information and signatures have been completed and submitted. MUSC will notify the applicant if the application package is incomplete and/or when an application is deemed to be complete. MUSC will then distribute the completed applications to an independent panel of experts for review. Panel members are technical experts from national laboratories who are intimately involved in DHS/DNDO nuclear forensics programs. The applicant may withdraw an application by written request at any time.
The panel will report an approved list of applicants to MUSC. MUSC, in turn, will review this list and provide recommendations on the awards to the program sponsor. DHS/DNDO reserves the right to make awards based on merit, U.S. Government mission needs, and geographical considerations. No more than one award per year is permitted for any single university.
8. Evaluation Criteria
All applications will be evaluated using the following criteria. As previously stated, 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 graduate program in nuclear forensics?
B. Does the applicant demonstrate an understanding of technical nuclear forensics as a scientific discipline?
C. Were sufficient details provided that demonstrated the applicant has a clear understanding of how the proposed program will align with the U.S. Government research priorities as stated on pages two-three?
D. Did the applicant provide a plan that ensures the inclusion of underrepresented groups?
E. Are provisions made in the proposal, which would encourage interactions with national laboratory staff in nuclear forensics and/or utilize their facilities?
F. Is the educational program plan sound?
1. Will the educational program provide sufficient depth and breadth to new and/or existing coursework and/or address laboratory needs?
2. Do the existing and/or new faculty associated with the educational program have sufficient depth and breadth to meet the programmatic goals as described in the Narrative?
3. Will the program offer students and faculty an opportunity for an interdisciplinary experience in nuclear forensics?
G. Is it apparent that there is sufficient institutional support for the proposed program illustrating a means for growth and sustainability?
H. Is there an indication in the applicant's proposed timeline that sufficient milestones will occur, resulting in increased strength, visibility, and sustainability of the program?
I. Is the requested funding in line with the programmatic activities proposed?
J. Are the cost-sharing arrangements applicable and in-line with the requirements of the program?
K. Have the indirect costs been waived?
9. Award Administration
Following award selection, MUSC will notify each applicant regarding the outcome. Applicants not receiving an award who wish to receive feedback may request a written comment by contacting MUSC.
DHS/DNDO reserves the right to fund, in whole or in part, any, all, or none of the applications submitted. All extensions of awards are based on similar reservations including the continuing availability of funds.
Each award recipient is required to provide quarterly and annual technical reports. The deadlines and specifications for content of these reports will be indicated in the award letter. All reports must describe progress and accomplishments achieved during the reporting period.
Monthly invoicing by the award universities is required. Invoices shall summarize reimbursable costs as related to the direct expenditures of the award. Invoices shall summarize costs under the following categories: Personal Services, Fringe Benefits, Materials and Supplies, Travel, Equipment, Subcontracts and Consultants, and Other Direct Costs. The invoice will also account for the cost-share associated with the award.
The award recipient must immediately notify MUSC if, for any reason, the university is not able to perform the tasks as outlined in the proposal or if there is a decrease in the costs as they were listed in the proposal. Cost increases will most likely not be approved.
All contracts executed under this award will contain contract provisions as listed in the applicable cost principles: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars_default.
- Nuclear Forensics Education Award Program