Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's (LLNL's) enduring mission to enhance national—and world—security relies on constant innovation in science, technology, and engineering. For nearly thirty years, LLNL's ability to stay ahead of evolving threats has been owed in large measure to the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program. LDRD helps sustain the Laboratory's role as an incubator for new ideas and formidable engine of scientific discovery.
Congress established the LDRD Program in 1991 to maintain the technical vitality of the Department of Energy national laboratories. Since then, LDRD has continued to be an essential tool for addressing challenges that lie beyond the planning horizon of our programs. Under LDRD, the Laboratory invests a small portion of its total operating budget in areas beyond the scope of traditional programmatic research, where high-risk exploration can lead to big payoffs.
Competition is keen among scientists and engineers for LDRD funding. Projects are selected through a rigorous peer-review process that prizes innovation and creativity, potential impact on a technical field, qualifications of the researchers, and the proposed research approach.
The broad range of projects described in this annual report illustrates the enormous breadth of cutting-edge research LDRD supports, from advanced manufacturing to high-performance computing to a prototype "brain-on-a-chip." The current scientific and technical strengths of the Laboratory are, in large part, a product of past LDRD investments. Many highly successful Livermore programs trace their beginnings to an LDRD-sponsored research effort.
Projects sponsored by LDRD contribute significantly to Lawrence Livermore's intellectual property, publications, and collaborations. In addition, many technologies that come out of the LDRD Program have commercial value; the Laboratory's Industrial Partnerships Office licenses these technologies to the private sector to strengthen U.S. industry.
Because LDRD projects are typically at the forefront of science, they help to attract promising young scientists and engineers working at the state of the art. As an example, LDRD historically supports more than half of Livermore's postdoctoral researchers. The program has also helped other Laboratory scientists establish careers in exciting new research directions.
LDRD-funded efforts have produced enormous payoffs over the past 27 years, and I am confident they will continue to ensure that LLNL's robust science, technology, and engineering base remains a national asset.