General Lab Information

photo of men at reactor construction site


Brookhaven Lab was conceived with a post-World War II desire to explore peaceful applications for atomic energy. As a national laboratory, Brookhaven would serve the nation by designing, constructing, and operating large scientific machines that individual institutions could not afford to develop alone.

Dwight D. Eisenhower visits the construction site of the Brookhaven Graphite Research Reactor (BGRR) in 1948. At that time, Eisenhower was the president of Columbia University.

Brookhaven National Laboratory, with its diverse staff and world-class facilities, is at the forefront of scientific discovery and 60 miles east of Manhattan. We lead and collaborate with some of the world's brightest minds in support of U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) mission to ensure America's security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental, and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.

In 1946, representatives from nine major universities—Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, University of Rochester, and Yale—formed Associated Universities Incorporated, a nonprofit corporation to establish a new science facility to be located somewhere in the Northeastern United States. They chose Camp Upton, a surplus army base "way out on Long Island," for the future facility's site. The U.S. War Department transferred Camp Upton to the Atomic Energy Commission, DOE's predecessor, for the founding of Brookhaven Lab in 1947 and our history of discovery began.

Brookhaven Today

Today our efforts are broad, building on the capabilities and expertise we've developed from leading and collaborating in 75 years of research. We are exploring the building blocks of matter, securing a sustainable future, transforming technology with quantum mechanics, entering the next generation of artificial intelligence, investigating the fabric of space and time, and accelerating disease treatment. The research facilities we operate are vital tools to power discovery every day.

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The Laboratory's main gate, ca. 1947.

photo of Brookhaven Lab's main gate entrance

Brookhaven Science Associates manages and operates Brookhaven National Laboratory on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

Brookhaven Lab is now managed on behalf of DOE by Brookhaven Science Associates (BSA), a partnership between the Research Foundation for the State University of New York on behalf of Stony Brook University, and Battelle. BSA also engages six research universities—Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton and Yale—in the governance and oversight of the Lab. The combined strengths of these entities make significant contributions to Brookhaven Lab.

Thanks to more than 27,000 staff who have worked at the Lab since 1947 and our world-class partners—including collaborators in DOE and 16 fellow national labs, New York State, academia, industry, and beyond—scientists at Brookhaven have pursued exciting adventures to explore the unknown, from particles that danced undetected for billions of years to the forces and structures that determine the properties of matter. Our "basic" science—often extremely complex, requiring teams of researchers and years of intense investigation—to advance fundamental knowledge and our applied research have helped shape our understanding of the atom and the universe, advance medical imaging techniques, and create new technology and tools for studying microbiology, Earth's ecosystems, energy storage, and more.

Throughout our 75 year history, Brookhaven Lab has operated numerous cutting-edge research facilities—some big , some not so big, and all contributing to advances for science, innovation, and inspiration for the nation and the world.

Innovation and Inspiration

The nation's economy is driven by innovation and Brookhaven Lab is a valuable resource—a major science-based enterprise and source of the scientific discovery and technological innovation on which growth depends. The knowledge scientists acquire can lead to breakthroughs for future research directions and improve the quality of life for future generations. Our Research Partnerships and Technology Transfer Office collaborates with industry to advance the commercialization of new technologies through licensing and sponsored research. We encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship and actively promote the formation of start-up companies around technologies developed here.

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The Science and User Support Center will be the first building in the proposed Discovery Park complex.

Discovery Park is a new vision for the gateway to Brookhaven Lab. It will offer a flexible platform to advance science- and technology-based economic development for Long Island, New York State, and beyond.

Brookhaven Lab is preparing the next generation of scientists, engineers, technicians, and teachers. The Lab has a longstanding tradition of welcoming students and families to experience the excitement of scientific discovery. Brookhaven typically hosts more than 30,000 students and educators annually. Mentoring under-represented minorities and women has long been a priority to diversify the nation's science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, many workforce development and STEM education programs continued virtually. Through Brookhaven's Office of Educational Programs, students from grade school to graduate school learn about science research and get relevant experiences from workshops, science fairs, contests, and the Science Learning Center. Additionally, Brookhaven scientists mentor hundreds of college students and professors from across the U.S. for internships, tours, and workshops each year.

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We're helping prepare the next generation of scientists, engineers, technicians, and teachers utilizing the unique scientific tools and intellectual resources of Brookhaven Lab.

Brookhaven Lab takes great pride in contributing to the Long Island community. We value the relationships that we've built with neighbors by listening and speaking openly about things we all care about. As part of our community outreach, we host lectures that are open to all and meetings for our Community Advisory Council.

In 2021, Brookhaven Lab was recognized as a Corporate Citizen of the Year by Long Island Business News for our support of neighbors in need through the United Way of Long Island and our role in the fight against COVID-19.

For decades, we have hosted an annual series of Summer Sundays open-house tours for the public. That program was held virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic and plans for 2022 are coming.