Science and Technology News

Sunday, May 27, 2012

ONR Researcher Tapped for Role in National Materials Genome Initiative


The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy  (OSTP) has selected an Office of Naval Research  (ONR) director to serve as co-deputy chair of an interagency subcommittee tasked with speeding the advancement of new materials.

Dr. Julie Christodoulou, division director of naval materials in ONR’s Sea Warfare and Weapons  department, became one of three co-deputy chairs of the National Science and Technology Council’s Subcommittee for the Materials Genome Initiative. The subcommittee is supporting the Materials Genome Initiative for Global Competitiveness  (MGI), part of President Obama’s plan  to accelerate the standard decades-long process to discover, mature and manufacture new materials.

Just as the Human Genome Project  rejuvenated and spurred the growth of biological sciences by decoding the fundamental building blocks of human genetics, MGI is a national effort to build a materials innovation infrastructure that will accelerate the discovery and incorporation of materials in half the time and at a reduced cost of traditional approaches.

It took nearly 40 years for lithium-ion batteries to go from material discovery and development to mass market consumption.

With investment in the MGI, officials aim to gain efficiency in the scientific discovery process and accelerate commercial adaptation. Scientists supporting the initiative will advance computational tools that encourage collaboration throughout the development, certification, implementation and manufacturing processes of new materials, which will also shorten the transition time into commercial products.

“The purpose is to advance our experimental and computational tools, and to establish data-sharing protocols and ways of working together,” said Christodoulou. “That’s what all of this is about—trying to seed that infrastructure so that people have a way to work in this collaborative environment, which we believe is really going to make a difference in the world of materials science.”

Christodoulou will help oversee the effort with her co-deputy chairs, Dr. Charles Ward of the Air Force Research Laboratory  and Dr. Ian Robertson of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Dr. Cyrus Wadia, who is OSTP’s assistant director for clean energy and materials research and development, is the subcommittee chairman.

Federal agencies participating in the initiative include the departments of energy, commerce and defense; the National Institute of Standards and Technology; NSF; and NASA .

ONR has been at the forefront of funding basic research to help scientists discover, improve and incorporate new materials. The MGI will assist in focusing national attention, allowing the collective harnessing of similar but disparate interests, ultimately leading to more rapid advancement of materials for national security needs.

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