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Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD)

Overall Goal of the Program

The objective of the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program is to use Laboratory indirect funding to support early-stage research that aims to develop science and technology in areas of interest. The Program will support a) strategic research aimed at growing the Lab in areas of strategic interest, positioning it for future opportunities; b) more speculative research aimed at developing new areas of interest; c) short term projects of immediate need; and d) special projects for which the Laboratory Director entertains requests or articulates the need.

The Program is therefore divided into three types, Type A, Type B, and Type C (that are openly competed), and Type S.

In a typical year, funding calls for Type A and Type B proposals are expected to be made early in the Fall in order that decisions may be made and communicated to the Principal Investigators (PI) by early in the calendar year and hires then may be made at the start of the new fiscal year.

Type A (Strategic)

This program is aimed at larger projects in areas of strategic interest. Projects are often cross-directorate, although not always. The goals of the Type A LDRDs include:

  1. Developing science and technology capabilities and nucleating teams to start work in areas where significant funding calls are anticipated in the out years.
  2. Early support of future major projects (for example R&D for bringing down the risk in facility upgrades)
  3. Growing research activity in areas of strategic importance.

Awards are expected to be up to $600k/yr for up to 36 months. Expectation is that the Type A pool will total about 60% of the total new LDRD allocations in a given year.

Proposals will be requested in a few topical areas each year. Topical areas are likely to be in three-four different areas, supporting perhaps two funded proposals in each area. Topical areas for a given year will be selected by the Deputy Director for Science and Technology (DDST) in consultation with the science Associate Laboratory Directors (ALD), following presentations from the respective Initiative Steering Committees (ISC) (below)

Initiative Steering Committee (ISC)

The Initiative Steering Committee will be made up of at least three individuals appointed by the DDST from recommendations made by the ALDs for each initiative. The expectation is that ISC members are members of the Lab Management team (i.e., typically Division Directors or Department Chairs). Members will serve for three year terms that are renewable.

The roles of the ISC are to champion that strategic initiative by:

  1. Working with cognizant ALDs to develop a five-year strategy for that initiative, potentially to include multiple phased Type A and Type B LDRDs, motivated by the desire to build the scientific credibility and capabilities in a given area and sequenced with expected potential funding opportunities, such that BNL is given a competitive advantage in those funding opportunities as a result of this strategy (SWOT analysis, communication plan, etc.)
  2. To present that strategy to the DDST and ALDs prior to the LDRD funding call in a given year to aid in the selection of initiatives in the LDRD call that year
  3. To form teams (that could include external partners) that could be put together to write strong LDRD proposals
  4. In years in which their initiative is chosen for the Lab LDRD call, the ISC will shepherd proposal teams through the proposal process, including bottom-up proposals that might come in, in addition to those the ISC might have pre-formed
  5. Provide a score in the LDRD review process
  6. Monitor progress of funded LDRDs, reporting to the DDST and ALDs on a six-month basis.

Proposals will be peer-reviewed by one Subject Matter Expert, not from the ISC, one BNL research staff member, and the ISC. The ISC score will count twice that of the other two referees. Criteria are:

  1. Intellectual merit
  2. Return on investment
  3. Broader impacts for BNL
  4. Strategic alignment
  5. Communications plan.

The same reviewers will review all proposals in a given strategic area.

The proposal call will be in the Fall, with awards made early in the calendar year for work to start in October the following year.

Type B (Regular)

This program is aimed at smaller, short to medium-term projects. The goals of the Type B LDRDs include:

  1. Support for potential Early Career Award (ECA) candidates
  2. Develop science/technology areas for new directions
  3. Positioning for expected funding opportunities +1 years out.

Awards are expected to be up to $250k/yr for up to two years. Expectation is that Type B will total about 30% of the total new LDRD allocations in each year.

A general call will be made for proposals. All permanent staff are eligible to submit. Up to ~30% of this program will be reserved for PIs who have at least three years of eligibility left for the DOE Early Career Award program. Proposals submitted in the ECA category will be considered as a separate subset of LDRD B proposals.

“Slots” in the lab-wide competition will be allocated to each Level 1 organization at the discretion of the DDST, allowing for the respective organizations’ size.

Proposals will be reviewed by two Subject Matter Experts and two BNL research staff members, and scored according to the following criteria:

  1. Intellectual merit
  2. Return on investment
  3. Broader impacts for BNL (why it should be conducted here).

The proposal call will be in the Fall, with awards made early in the calendar year for work to start in October the following year.

Type C (Umbrella)

This program is aimed at providing limited R&D funding for Level 1 organizations to cover short-term R&D costs. Examples include short term research needs to

  1. Demonstrate a capability
  2. Perform a feasibility study that needs to be done quickly and does not rise to the level of a Type B LDRD
  3. Carry out short-term research to strengthen a future proposal
  4. Make a strategic hire.

Level 1 organizations will submit an umbrella LDRD proposal in September outlining the areas of research of an amount up to 10% of the LDRD tax contributed by that Level 1 organization. Type C proposals are reviewed by the DDST and are expected to be a single year in duration. Sub-proposals may then be submitted against the umbrella proposal during the fiscal year, until three months before year-end.

Special LDRD (S-LDRD)

A portion of the LDRD budget is held for the Special LDRD (S-LDRD) category. These funds are used to establish and enhance initiatives that are consistent with Laboratory priorities. Projects in this category focus on innovative R&D activities that are likely to develop new programmatic areas within BNL's mission focus and enhance the Laboratory's science and technology base. The Laboratory Director entertains requests or articulates the need for S-LDRD funds at any time. The DDST arranges for the appropriate review in accordance with the Director’s guidance.

These projects are driven by special opportunities, including:

  1. Research project(s) in support of a Laboratory strategic hire
  2. Evolution of Program Development activities into research and development activities
  3. ALD proposal(s) to the Director to support unique research opportunities
  4. Research project(s) in support of Laboratory strategic initiatives as defined and articulated by the Director.


Further information and assistance can be obtained from Kathi Barkigia either by email ( or telephone (ext. 7661), or Jennifer Froehlich, email ( or telephone (ext. 3724).

Documentation on all approved LDRD projects is maintained by the Office of Policy and Strategic Planning to assure that projects have undergone proper review and are in compliance with all applicable requirements.

LDRD Program Data