U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Domestic Nuclear Detection Office
Nuclear Forensics Junior Faculty Award Program
2014-2015 Award Cycle now closed
2014-2015 Award 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 Junior Faculty Award Program (NFJFAP) in 2010 to provide universities with an incentive to promote, recruit, and retain qualified personnel to teach within nuclear forensics-related degree programs and contribute to associated research and development projects which support the U.S. Government nuclear forensics mission.
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, 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 National Nuclear Forensics Expertise Development Program (NNFEDP), the NFJFAP aims to enhance the faculty population in scientific disciplines associated with nuclear forensics. It is designed to meet the DHS/DNDO objective to provide appropriately trained personnel to accomplish the U.S. Government nuclear forensics mission. The NFJFAP encourages talented individuals who have recently received a Ph.D. in a discipline related to the technical areas listed below to consider and/or advance their careers at an academic institution.
2. Sponsorship and Technical Mission Areas
Awards have been tentatively set at a maximum of $75,000 a year, renewable for a two-year period. An additional $25,000 may be added annually to this amount if the university can demonstrate in its application that it will match the additional $25,000 provided by DHS/DNDO with an equivalent $25,000 from auditable non-federal funds. This match cannot include in-kind elements and must come from non-federal sources.
Relevant areas for technical research include:
1. Technical Mission Area 1 (TMA 1): In general, the nuclear forensics community is interested in advancements in the analysis and characterization of nuclear and/or radioactive materials. Of particular importance, in priority order, are innovations in the accuracy, precision, and speed of determining the physical, chemical, isotopic, radiological, micro-structural, and/or morphological properties of materials.
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. 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
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. Proposed programs must support a B.S., M.S., or Ph.D. program in an academic discipline that supports one or more of the technical areas stated in the previous section.
B. A direct, formalized agreement must be established between the applicant university and a national laboratory performing research in one of the technical areas. This can be accomplished through a written articulation agreement between the institutions. The agreement should be a part of the program application. The laboratory should be willing to provide a research plan to the proposed junior faculty appointee.
C. The recipient of the NFJFAP award must be in a tenure-track position and must meet the definition of a “junior faculty member.” For this program, a qualified applicant is considered someone who has less than six (6) years of experience as a university faculty member at the time of application.
D. The Principal Investigator and all other key personnel who will be directly supported by this award must be U.S. citizens. Proof of U.S. citizenship (a copy of their birth certificate or passport) must be provided for each person receiving direct support under this award.
E. Indirect costs charged by the university must be limited to 10 percent of the award.
4. Program Administration
On behalf of the program sponsors, the South Carolina Universities Research and Education Foundation (SCUREF) administers the NFJFAP awards through its contractor, the University of South Carolina Aiken (USCA). 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, USCA, 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. William A. Pirkle, 803-641-3395, BillP@usca.edu.
Application materials can be submitted electronically, mailed to the address below, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Electronic applications are available on the forms page of the SCUREF website at www.scuref.org under the “NFJFAP” tab.
Nuclear Forensics Junior Faculty Award Program
1204 Whiskey Road, Suite F
Aiken, SC 29801-4322
Applications are due on or before August 8, 2014. Awards will be announced in September 2014 with funding commencing on January 1, 2015.
5. Application Overview
Applications should present a general scope of the research and the faculty development plan of the potential appointee. This includes a proposed plan of action including the following: the impact the appointment will have on the overall academic program of the home institution, the collaboration with a DHS/DNDO-sponsored laboratory(s), and any proposed research that will be conducted by the applicant at the home institution. Applications should also indicate the amount and source of funds to be used to support the appointee’s salary and any other budgetary items deemed essential. If applicable, specific information should be provided regarding any cost share funds to be provided by the university. Funds may be used to purchase equipment, cover project-related travel expenses, and/or support any other activities intended to enhance the applicant’s development.
Elaborate presentations are not desired. The following is a list of items that must be present in each application:
A. Signature Page: The Signature Page must include signatures from the Principal Investigator and the authorized university official who can affirm that the applicant and institution will comply with the terms and conditions of the award.
B. Application Summary: The Summary should be limited to 200 words or less. The applicant should provide an overview of prospective work to be performed and how this work will enhance and maintain a collaborative research and education program(s) in nuclear forensics. Highlights of the application should be listed in this section. The information provided in the Summary may be used as a public information document. Please do not include Proprietary Information in this section of the application.
C. Narrative: This is the main body of the application. This section should provide clear and specific statements regarding the proposed work and development program. In addition, 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 three-four (3-4). The description of work should closely follow the Evaluation Criteria. The Narrative should be limited to six (6) pages and must be typed with one-inch margins, using a font size no smaller than 10. If proprietary or privileged information is provided in the Narrative, please indicate as such by providing specific notation that this information should be kept confidential (see the section on proprietary information). Please provide the name of the institution and the Principal Investigator on each of the Narrative pages.
D. Budget Proposal: Please note that Award Cost, Cost Share, and Budget Explanation requirements have separate sections in the budget proposal. These sections require information regarding how funds will be spent over the course of the two-year period of the award. The initial budget period will be 12 months in length with a potential for one renewal of one (1) year in duration. Because it is expected that awards will be announced in September 2014, the award may begin as early as January 1, 2015 but should not start later than April 1, 2015. In developing the budget, please show dollar amounts that relate to Personnel, Travel, Facilities, Equipment, Laboratory Costs and Coursework, Communications, Materials, and/or Miscellaneous Items. As stated, the budget proposal has been separated into three sections. The first section entitled Award Costs requests cost information related to the direct expenditures of the award. The section entitled Cost Share requests information regarding how the university will meet this obligation, if applicable. Cost share is voluntary for the base funding of $75,000. However, if the applicant’s university is willing to match 100 percent of an additional $25,000, DHS/DNDO will increase the total amount of its contribution to $100,000. The university match cannot include in-kind elements and must come from non-federal sources. The final section entitled Budget Explanation requests cost justifications associated with the proposed activities. It is expected that most applicants will allocate funds for travel between the university and DHS/DNDO-sponsored laboratory(s). Travel expenses should be justified in this section and in the Narrative. Foreign travel will not be approved. The 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 individuals should be provided in this section. Brief Curriculum Vitae (limited to two (2) pages) for each individual involved in this award should also be included. In some cases, the university will be hiring an individual to fill the position. If this is the case, please supply the job description and a listing of the minimum requirements for the position. The proposal tends to benefit if a person has already been identified and curriculum vita for this individual is included with the application.
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, SCUREF and USCA will seek to limit dissemination of such information to their 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
Applications for the NFJFAP are distributed to academic institutions that have identifiable nuclear science and engineering programs, as well as graduate chemistry programs. This distribution includes direct mailings and e-mail notices. Applications can also be found on the website maintained by SCUREF (www.scuref.org). USCA/SCUREF staff is available to assist potential applicants in completing their applications. No funds, however, will be provided for any pre-application or pre-award costs in the administration of this program.
A complete administrative review will commence following receipt of an application. This review will include an assessment to ensure that all required information and signatures have been completed and submitted. Applicants will be notified if the application package is incomplete and/or when an application is deemed to be complete. The Program Administrator 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. Applicants may withdraw an application by written request at any time.
The review panel will report an approved list of applicants to the Program Administrator. The Program Administrator, in turn, will review the list and provide recommendations on the awards to DHS/DNDO. DHS/DNDO reserves the right to make awards based on merit, U.S. Government nuclear forensics mission needs, and geographical considerations. No more than one new 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. Does the applicant demonstrate an understanding of technical nuclear forensics as a scientific discipline? Does the proposed program align with U.S. Government research priorities as stated in Section 2?
B. Is the proposed faculty member qualified and committed to a long-term collaborative research and education program in nuclear forensics?
C. Are the research and education program plans integrated in the candidate’s approach?
D. Does the applicant provide clear details on how the junior faculty member will integrate prospective program plans with the institution’s current program?
E. Does the research/education program plan, in which the junior faculty member will be engaged, follow a pattern of growth and commitment? Is there an indication that during year one, as well as the following years, the growth and commitment of the research/education program plan will continue?
F. Does the budget match a realistic expenditure for the included items? Have the indirect costs been limited to 10 percent or less?
G. Is there appropriate indication of a long-term commitment by the institution to the development of the named junior faculty member?
9. Award Administration
Following DHS/DNDO award selection, the Program Administrator will notify each applicant of the outcome. Applicants not receiving an award who wish to receive feedback may request a written comment by contacting the Program Administrator.
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 universities receiving awards 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 USCA 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 Junior Faculty Award Program
- Nuclear Forensics Junior Faculty Award Program
- Background and Introduction
- Sponsorship and Technical Mission Areas
- Program Requirements
- Program Administration
- Application Overview
- Proprietary Information
- Application Solicitation, Receipt, Processing and Review
- Evaluation Criteria
- Award Administration