New technology more efficiently removes heavy metals from water
By Emily Ayshford Video available here: https://youtu.be/A_xwYIroTvM As freshwater scarcity affects millions worldwide, scientists and engineers have looked for new ways of filtering unwanted metals and minerals out of water while retaining those elements for re-use...
How China’s Air Pollution Affects the Health of Residents in South Korea
By Emily Ayshford When countries produce air pollution, it doesn’t just stay within its borders. But just how that pollution travels, and how it affects the economies and well-being of residents in neighboring countries, has been difficult to show. A...
JTFI investment leads to more AI + Science funding
Artificial intelligence has the power to fuel countless innovations, giving scientists and engineers new tools to solve the world’s biggest problems. At the University of Chicago, the Joint Task Force Initiative (JTFI) has supported these innovations by helping the...
Read updates on new investments, research progress, task forces, and leadership development in past JTFI newsletters.
Joint Task Forces, Strategic Initiatives, and Training Opportunities
Artificial Intelligence + Science
UChicago has provided significant resources to the JTFI Artificial Intelligence for Science initiative to organize strategic matchmaking workshops between AI and other fields, provide students with research and consulting experiences, and seed joint projects in strategic AI areas. Read more about funded projects.
Argonne in the City
This initiative has supported Argonne’s long-term strategic effort to increase Argonne’s impact on the Chicago and Midwest innovation ecosystems and economies by establishing a second location for Argonne in a growing innovation district near the UChicago campus on Chicago’s South Side. This location allows Argonne to: (1) extend the benefits of Argonne capabilities and resources to the underserved communities, (2) advance science and technology through expanded collaborations, (3) accelerate technology transfer to industry, and (4) build the workforce of the future to maintain U.S. competitiveness.
The Business Services Task Force has explored areas of possible insourcing and outsourcing for administrative systems, new health/benefits opportunities, and new process improvements in business service areas. At present the task force is exploring potential shared services approaches for payroll and accounts payable.
This strategic initiative supports a next-generation, ground-based cosmic microwave background (CMB) experiment in which Argonne and Fermilab play important roles in concert with other national laboratories and universities. UChicago has invested in capital equipment in a dedicated Argonne clean room, provided bridge funding, and rented office space for the CMB-S4 planning group at 53rd Street in Chicago.
The Computing Task Force has created IT Strategy Councils for administrative and research computing and is also working to develop an Identity Management Architecture Group.
COVID Testing/Vaccine Support
With the advent of the COVID pandemic and related health issues, UChicago established an ad hoc COVID Task Force with representatives from Argonne and Fermilab, senior university leaders, and leaders from the UChicago Medical Center. This task force created a forum for COVID information sharing and expert advice, particularly in key areas such as testing, and enabled early access for both labs to vaccines offered by the UChicago Medical Center.
Data Science Institute Certificate Programs
JTFI provided full sponsorship for attendees from Argonne and Fermilab to participate in specialized data-science courses offered by the UChicago Date Science Institute. These included Artificial Intelligence and Data Science for Leaders, and Machine Learning for Cybersecurity.
Data Science Institute Clinic Program
JTFI partnered with the UChicago Data Science Institute’s Data Science Clinic to support teams of UChicago graduate students to pursue data science projects at Argonne and Fermilab. The teams of 2 to 5 students, working under the supervision of UChicago mentor instructors, are tackling important data science challenges in science and mission support areas at both labs.
The Export Control Task Force has defined which research results and technology are subject to export control restrictions and required protections. Most recently, this task force has hired a FTE intern at UChicago who, after initial training, will be deployed to both laboratories, beginning with Fermilab, to bolster human resources, share information across institutions, and pursue special projects at the discretion of laboratory export control leadership.
Fermilab Performance Transformation Project
JTFI hired an external consulting firm for a six-month engagement to assist Fermilab in identifying and addressing performance challenges in the mission-critical support areas of procurement, facilities, finance and human resources.
Future of Work
JTFI convened the Future of Work Task Force to consider how work will be performed at the labs and to support the changes in processes, policies and culture as large numbers of employees will be working remotely or will have hybrid work arrangements, while others may be working in-person on a regular basis. In the last year this task force offered several 90-minute training sessions on Leading in the Evolving Work Environment that were attended by over 400 Argonne and Fermilab personnel as well as senior leaders from both Department of Energy site offices.
Global Energy Challenge
How can we ensure that people around the world have access to the reliable, affordable energy needed for economic growth and human development without putting the environment, climate or human health at risk? In answer to this challenge question, JTFI funded four joint projects at UChicago and Argonne over two years that are answering this challenge question using diverse ideas and experiments. Read more.
Graduate Research Cooperative
JTFI created the Graduate Research Cooperative as an administrative structure to support UChicago graduate student thesis research at Argonne and Fermilab. The program is currently in pilot phase with the UChicago Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering and Argonne and enables qualified Argonne scientists to serve as thesis research mentors for molecular engineering students conducting their thesis research in Argonne research laboratories. We plan to make additional significant investments to scale this program to include additional University academic departments and Fermilab. Read more about the GRC.
Inclusive Innovation in the Sciences
This initiative is focused on developing infrastructure to serve as a model for STEM education program delivery and execution in emerging scientific areas (e.g., Data Science/AI, Clean Energy, Quantum) across South Side Chicago communities, in partnership with community-based organizations, local schools, and civic partners. JTFI is providing support for a pilot phase that will take an existing in-person STEM education program, led by the University of Chicago and the National Labs, and identify pathways to scale.
Laboratory Innovation Fellows
The Lab Innovation Fellows program (LIF) supports Argonne and Fermilab participants in exploring commercialization paths for technologies. The fellows spend two academic quarters taking advantage of resources from the UChicago Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation such as courses and workshops, accelerator programs, and ongoing mentorship by seasoned business leaders and investors. JTFI provides full support for a fellow from each laboratory annually. Read more about the Lab Innovation Fellows.
Leadership Academy for Women in Science and Engineering
The LAWISE Task Force is exploring new programs that provide training to, and increase the numbers of, women science and engineering leaders at the national laboratories. It is working to build a network of support for early-career women in STEM and to honor outstanding female STEM leaders. Read more about LAWISE.
Argonne is making significant research contributions to advance radioisotope production and purification technologies, and UChicago offers a broad spectrum of basic, translational, and clinical research environment and expertise in radiochemistry, cellular, preclinical, and clinical trial studies. JTFI funded a joint year 1 research project on scandium radiotheranostics to improve the diagnosis and therapy of advanced prostate cancer. This year, JTFI has funded a new project on developing novel radiotheranostics for improved diagnosis and therapy of neuroendocrine tumors, which involve many types of cancer.
Polymer Upcycling/Hard X-Ray Sciences
JTFI seeded four novel research teams that use techniques like machine learning and advanced imaging methods to create more sustainable materials and conduct basic science research. Read more about funded projects.
The Procurement Task Force has focused on enhanced hiring, development, and benchmarking efforts within procurement. It continues to embed procurement professionals earlier in the procurement life cycle and has partnered with the national laboratories to pursue strategic purchasing. The result has been $550,000 in combined annual savings.
UChicago provided significant resources to build support infrastructure, invest in tool package procurement, and provide seed funding for joint research projects. Read more about funded projects.
The Safety Task Force is working to share best practices by developing networking and professional development workshops and events. It is also working with the procurement task force to identify savings in safety-related bulk product contracts. JTFI provided financial support for Argonne’s adoption of the UChicagoSafe application.
SEED Internship Program
Chain Reaction Innovations, the entrepreneurship program at Argonne, created the Students for Energy & Entrepreneurial Development (SEED) intern program to empower Chicagoland college students from under-resourced communities to pursue and excel in STEM careers. SEED offers students two exciting ways to combat climate change through either STEM or business internships with CRI’s clean energy startup companies while simultaneously creating a comprehensive pipeline for students to make an impact through science careers. JTFI is providing full support for 3 SEED interns at Argonne in 2022.
SPARC Program: Science, Partnerships, and Research Collaborations
Addressing the grand science challenges of our time requires dynamic collaborations and partnerships on a global scale. SPARC is a highly selective program that equips outstanding emerging leaders from Argonne National Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and the University of Chicago with the skills required to forge impactful and effective partnerships with industry, government, other academic institutions, and non-profit organizations. Members of the SPARC cohort will develop a toolkit and network that will help them launch and take a leadership role in new and innovative partnerships that have the potential to transform science and technology. Programming includes fireside chats with University and Lab leadership, talks from leaders in industry, personalized coaching, guidance from an Advisory Council of exemplary science leaders, and networking across the three institutions. Read more about SPARC.
Strategic Laboratory Leadership Program
SLLP leverages the outstanding executive education program at the UChicago Booth School of Business to provide leadership training to 25 Argonne and Fermilab participants as well as other participating laboratories in the national laboratory complex. In 2022 the SLLP expanded to two 30+ participant cohorts from 9 DOE national laboratories: Ames, Argonne, Berkeley, Fermilab, Idaho, JLab, NREL, Princeton and SLAC. The program features a rigorous program of leadership training and self-reflection about leadership ambitions and styles, personal coaching, and participation in mixed teams to pursue a unique strategic challenge project. Read more about the SLLP.
Strategic Program for Innovation at the National Laboratories
The Strategic Program for Innovation at the National Laboratories (SPIN) promotes entrepreneurial thinking at the national labs. In classes taught by UChicago Booth School of Business faculty, as well as external industry experts, scientists and staff, participants develop an entrepreneurial mindset, strong communication skills, and new collaboration strategies that can be applied to all aspects of their professional careers. JTFI is providing full support for 17 participants from Argonne and Fermilab in 2022. Read more about SPIN.
Technology and Materials for Sustainability
JTFI issued a call for proposals in 2021 for proposals in such areas as environment fate of materials, AI/ML applied to sustainability, polymer circularity, carbon capture, biotechnology, green batteries, sensing technology and sustainability, resource recovery, critical material life cycle analysis, and solar technology. Four proposals were funded in 2022 with a potential second year of support. Read more about some of the projects here.
The Technology Transfer Task Force is exploring operational synergies with Argonne and Fermilab in a variety of joint areas. It was this task force that conceived the Laboratory Innovation Fellows program highlighted above and played a key role in helping to develop the SPIN program, also described above. The task force is now developing a major annual or biannual conference that would feature IP developed by both labs in collaboration with key Chicagoland stakeholders and industry.