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Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD)

Program Description

The purpose of the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program is to promote the conduct of highly innovative and exploratory research that supports the mission of the Laboratory including strategic initiatives for the growth of the Laboratory. The Laboratory mission areas include the physical, energy, and life sciences, with additional expertise in environmental sciences, energy technologies, and national security, as well as the design, construction, and operation of large-scale scientific facilities. The following is a list of the general principles that guide the LDRD Program:

  • Fund highly innovative and exploratory research that can be of high risk.
  • Expect high payoff such as funding prospects, breakthrough science and broadening of the Laboratory’s mission.
  • Set a fraction of the funds for strategic areas.
  • Give some preference to emerging scientists consistent with the quality of their proposals.
  • Encourage collaborations across Directorates and Departments/Divisions.
  • Do not use the LDRD process as a way to support unfunded investigators.
  • Stop support if funding is obtained elsewhere.
  • Track the productivity and success of funded proposals.

Program Structure

The program has two categories, the open call LDRDs (Type A and Type B) and Strategic LDRDs, which combine to meet the overall objective of the LDRD Program.

Open call LDRD Proposals

Type A proposals (duration up to 36 months) need to be clearly aligned with BNL’s priority programs and Laboratory initiatives. Type B proposals (capped at $200k/yr. for 24 months or less, especially for high-risk novel ideas) aim to seed new areas of research and competencies at the Laboratory. Unlike Type A LDRD proposals, Type B proposals are not constrained to BNL priority areas or Laboratory initiatives but must be consistent with the Laboratory’s vision and mission ( Potential Early Career Award (ECA) candidates are encouraged to submit proposals in this category.

The solicitations for Type A and Type B proposals occur separately (April for Type A and December for Type B) for review and approval concurrent with the next fiscal year, October 1.

An LDRD Selection Committee, comprised of the Scientific Associate Laboratory Directors (ALDs), the Deputy ALDs, the Directors of the Computational Science Initiative (CSI) and Advanced Technology Research Office (ATRO), scientists from the Brookhaven Council, and the Director of Planning, Performance and Quality Management (PPQM), reviews the proposals submitted in response to the solicitation. The ALDs/CSI and ATRO Directors as a group, with the benefit of peer reviews from the entire Committee, subject matter experts, and Lab scientists not affiliated with the project, make the final selections for the Laboratory-wide competition. Successful organization and execution of each approved proposal is the responsibility of the cognizant ALD/Director in the area of activity.

The open call LDRD category emphasizes innovative research concepts. The competition is open to all BNL scientific and professional staff. Researchers submit their project proposals to their respective ALDs/Directors, who along with their management teams, determine the best method for screening proposals for ultimate submission to the Director of PPQM.

Strategic LDRD Proposals

A portion of the LDRD budget is held for the Strategic 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 Director of PPQM arranges for the appropriate review in accordance with the Director’s guidance.

These projects are driven by special opportunities, including:

  • Research project(s) in support of a Laboratory strategic hire,
  • Evolution of Program Development activities into research and development activities,
  • ALD proposal(s) to the Director to support unique research opportunities,
  • 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 Liz Flynn, email ( or telephone (ext. 3834).

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