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Fundamental and Computational Sciences Directorate

About Science at PNNL

At PNNL, scientists, engineers, programmers and researchers advance the frontiers of science to study, predict and engineer complex adaptive systems related to energy, the environment, biological sciences and national security.

Fundamental sciences are explored mainly in PNNL's Earth and Biological Sciences Directorate (EBSD) and Physical and Computational Sciences Directorate (PCSD). EBSD leads novel research in the areas of atmospheric and global change, biological and environmental molecular sciences. PCSD stewards major research in experimental and theoretical chemistry, chemical physics, catalysis, materials, geochemisty, separations and analysis, high-energy physics, nuclear physics, computational engineering, high-performance computing, applied mathematics, data sciences and software and application development.

Two unique U.S. Department of Energy national scientific user facilities also contribute to PNNL's science mission. The Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL), located on the PNNL campus, offers scientific capabilities–people, instruments and facilities–to the global research community. The multi-laboratory Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility provides continuous, quality-controlled, and archived climate observation data for atmospheric science researchers worldwide and is led by staff at PNNL.

Earth and Biological Sciences Directorate (EBSD)

Research within EBSD is mainly sponsored by DOE's Office of Science, in the Biological and Environmental Research (BER) program and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In cross-disciplinary collaborations, scientists explore phenomena at every scale, from tiny molecules tucked within soil to the vast and complex atmospheric patterns that circulate the Earth.

EBSD Divisions:
Atmospheric Sciences and Global Change Division
Biological Sciences Division

EBSD Special Projects:
Integrated Plant-Atmosphere-Soil Systems (iPASS)
Microbiomes in Transition (MinT)

Physical and Computational Sciences Directorate (PCSD)

PCSD is PNNL's primary steward for research supported by the DOE's Office of Science programs of Basic Energy Sciences, Advanced Scientific Computing Research, High Energy Physics, Fusion Energy Sciences, and Nuclear Physics. Staff also perform research and development with other government agencies and private industry. With diverse capabilities in chemistry, physics, catalysis, geochemistry, separations and analysis, computational sciences and materials science, PCSD researchers address the most important questions on the frontiers of science to advance understanding of complex natural systems and build the foundations for technological innovations.

PCSD Divisions:
Computing Research (Advanced Computing, Mathematics, and Data)
Physical Sciences

PCSD Special Projects:
Chemical Transformations Initiative
Collaboratory on Mathematics for Mesoscopic Modeling of Materials (CM4)
Institute for Integrated Catalysis
High Performance Data Analytics (HPDA)
Northwest Institute for Advanced Computing

User Facilities

PNNL has the overall responsibility for technical direction and operations of the Atmospheric Research Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility, with technical, engineering, radar, aerial, data management, and communications teams on its campus in Richland, Wash. Through experts at nine national laboratories, ARM maintains globe-spanning ground, mobile, and aerial remote-sensing observatories that collect continuous freely-available data on cloud formation processes, radiative transfer, and measurements of aerosol and precipitation.

The Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) is located on the PNNL campus. With unique instrumentation capabilities, EMSL promotes and facilitates fundamental science in search of predictive, systems-level understanding of plant, microbial, and fungal communities in order to address national challenges like clean energy and legacy wastes. EMSL hosts researchers from around the world.

DOE User Facilities:
Atmospheric Research Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility
Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)

Advisory Committees

EBSD and PCSD both have established Directorate Advisory Committee (DAC) teams. Each are comprised of more than a dozen members from laboratories and universities across the country and around the globe. The role of the DAC team is to review the directorate's programmatic activities and provide feedback to Lab leadership on its science programs, technology programs, related operations, and capability stewardship efforts. They advise Lab leadership on the quality of the scientific and technology activities for which the directorate is responsible; they assess the relevance and impact of those activities to the sponsor's needs and to the Laboratory's strategic plan, mission, and goals.


Science at PNNL

Core Research Areas

User Facilities

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