Program Structure

Strategic Initiative

The SI category, which is open to all Laboratory scientific, engineering, and programmatic staff, focuses on innovative research and development activities that address major specific science and technology challenges of high potential strategic impact for the Investment Strategy for Science, Technology and Engineering, and significantly enhance the Laboratory’s science and technology base. Projects in this category are usually larger and more technically challenging than those in the other categories. All new and current SIs must be aligned with at least one of the mission focus areas or underlying science, technology, and engineering core competency.

Exploratory Research

The ER category is designed to help fulfill the strategic research and development needs of a Laboratory directorate and must also support and be aligned with the Laboratory’s strategic plan. As with all the LDRD project categories, ER proposals must meet the criteria for intellectual merit used across the scientific community, such as importance of the proposed activity to advancing knowledge, capability, and understanding within its own field or across different fields, as well as ensuring the proposed activity suggests and explores creative and original concepts.

Laboratory-Wide Competition

Projects in the LW category emphasize innovative research concepts and ideas and undergo limited management filtering to encourage creativity of individual researchers. The LW competition is open to all LLNL staff in programmatic, scientific, engineering, and technical support areas. Direct alignment with the Laboratory’s strategic investment strategy is not required for LW proposals. However, in order to be funded, all LW proposals must be relevant to one or more missions of the DOE and NNSA.

Feasibility Study/Project Definition

This special project category, FS, provides researchers with the flexibility to propose relatively small, short-term projects to determine the feasibility of a particular technical approach for addressing a mission-relevant science and technology challenge. To increase its responsiveness to Laboratory scientists and engineers, the LDRD Program funds FS projects throughout the year, with a one-year funding limit.

Project Competency Areas

Although LDRD projects often address more than one scientific discipline, each project is assigned to 1 of 12 research categories aligned with the Laboratory's science and technology investment strategy.

  • Advanced Materials and Manufacturing
  • Bioscience and Bioengineering
  • Chemical and Biological Security
  • Cyber Security, Space, and Intelligence
  • Earth and Atmospheric Science
  • Energy and Climate Security
  • High-Energy-Density Science
  • High-Performance Computing, Simulation, and Data Science
  • Inertial Fusion Science and Technology
  • Lasers and Optical Science and Technology
  • Nuclear, Chemical, and Isotopic Science and Technology
  • Stockpile Stewardship Science