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2014 Call for EMSL Science Theme Research

EMSL's 2014 Call for Science Theme Proposals is now closed. Award decisions will be made by July 31, 2014 and approved proposals will be granted access to EMSL resources beginning October 1, 2014.

Science Theme Research

EMSL's 2014 Call for Science Theme proposals is open for high-impact user research focused on selected topics in environmental molecular science. Accepted proposals will be valid for two years provided the annual summary and extension request demonstrate sufficient progress toward the stated goals. A select number of proposal lead investigators may be invited to submit project plans to extend the work for a third year.

Access to use EMSL capabilities is highly competitive, and requirements change, so please read the Proposal Guidance for Fiscal Year 2014 for detailed information regarding content that should be included in your submission. Proposals will be evaluated on a total of five review criteria, following the Proposal Review process, and those that do not adhere to the guidance will not be considered.


The Call for Science Theme proposals focuses on cutting-edge research activities that will advance scientific understanding within the specific topics listed below. Proposals are preferred that describe molecular-scale research that transforms our understanding of key phenomena of any of these specific topics, by coupling laboratory investigations of synthetic or natural materials/systems with modeling, simulation, or theory.

Proposals that significantly advance scientific innovation through integration of multiple EMSL instruments or via highly productive collaborative teams with different expertise (multi-institution, multi-disciplinary) are encouraged. Prospective users are strongly advised to contact the relevant Science Theme Lead or Capability Lead Science Theme Lead or Capability Lead to discuss proposal ideas and possible research collaborations with EMSL and PNNL staff. Prospective users interested in coupling experimental and computational approaches should contact the Molecular Science Computing Lead.

In addition, newer capabilities offer prospective users the possibility of new or unique experiments. Details about these and all of EMSL's capabilities are available on the capabilities web page, and include a variety of in-situ probes for NMR; advanced electron microscopy in EMSL's Quiet Wing space; super resolution fluorescence microscopy for live cells; high-resolution mass spectrometers; a new Radiochemistry Annex; nonlinear optics (sum frequency generation), a 3.4 petaflop supercomputer, NanoSIMS, Atom Probe Tomography, and Imaging XPS.

Focused Topics by Science Theme

Atmospheric Aerosol Systems

The Atmospheric Aerosol Systems (AAS) Science Theme focuses on molecular scale understanding of atmospheric aerosols that will improve the representation of aerosols in earth system models and thereby increase the accuracy of climate predictions. This understanding requires the knowledge of biological, chemical and physical processes controlling atmospheric aerosol sources, as well as dynamic processes such as formation, growth, aging, and their composition, structure, optical properties and cloud activation. AAS research includes all forms of atmospheric aerosols and sources (e.g., mineral dust, sea-salt, sulfate, black carbon, organics), with an emphasis on determining the molecular-scale processes that control biogenic organic emissions and formation of secondary organic aerosol and the fundamental properties and evolution of organic aerosols that have the greatest impact on atmospheric radiation and climate.

Proposals requiring multiple analytical techniques, or that combine observational and modeling approaches, to address the following focus areas are especially encouraged:

Biosystem Dynamics and Design

The Biosystem Dynamics and Design (BDD) Science Theme focuses on intra and inter-cellular complexes and dynamic processes in microbes, fungi, and plants. By gaining a detailed understanding of how biological systems respond to and modify their environment, EMSL users can improve strategies for modifying and manipulating plants, fungi and microbes to advance systems biology for bioenergy and biorenewables.

Proposals that combine computational and dynamic approaches to elucidate biodesign principles are encouraged, especially in the following areas as they relate to the production of biofuels and other chemicals, and environmental processes of relevance to DOE:

Energy Materials and Processes

The Energy Materials and Processes (EMP) Science Theme focuses on the dynamic transformation mechanisms and physical and chemical properties, especially at critical interfaces, in catalysts and energy materials that are needed to design new systems for sustainable energy applications. By facilitating the development and rapid dissemination of critical molecular-level information along with predictive modeling of interfaces and their unique properties EMSL helps enable the design and development of practical, efficient, environmentally benign and economic energy storage and energy conversion systems.

Proposals focused on establishing fundamental and predictive understanding in the following areas are especially encouraged:

Terrestrial and Subsurface Ecosystems

The Terrestrial and Subsurface Ecosystems (TSE) Science Theme focuses on the fluxes of nutrients, metabolites, and contaminants in heterogeneous terrestrial and subsurface environments across multiple scales. By providing a mechanistic understanding of chemical reactivity in solution and at interfaces in soils and the subsurface, and linking those processes via pore-scale hydrological models, EMSL users can improve strategies for sustainable solutions to contaminant attenuation, remediation, and carbon storage.

Proposals that demonstrate an integrated modeling, simulation and experimental approach are particularly encouraged in the following research areas:

This Science Theme Call favors proposals that target the specific topics above. However, limited resources may be given to exceptional proposals that do not fit within the Call's themes. Users are reminded that opportunities for General proposals are available outside of the Science Theme Call, although only limited resources are available for such smaller projects.

Researchers interested in learning more about EMSL and specific instruments can view a dozen different instruments in four of EMSL's laboratories through a panning 360-degree virtual tour. The tour includes lab and instrument overviews available through text, images, video and web pages. It features EMSL's surface science instruments, nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers, ion mobility mass spectrometers, and cell isolation and surface analysis tools. Recent sustainability projects, such as a solar array, also are highlighted.

Questions regarding EMSL's user program or specifics related to the Calls for Proposals or General proposal cycles may be directed to the contacts listed below.


For general proposal inquiries – Terry Law
(, 509-371-6003)

For EMSL's Science Theme program – Karl Mueller
(, 509-371-6550)

For Atmospheric Aerosol Systems – Alex Guenther
(, 509-372-6467)

For Biosystem Dynamics and Design – Scott Baker
(, 509-372-4759)

For Terrestrial and Subsurface Ecosystems – Nancy Hess
(, 509-371-6385)

For Energy Materials and Processes – Don Baer
(, 509-371-6245)

For integration of theory and experiment inquiries – Tim Scheibe
(, 509-372-6065)

User Support Office: , 509-371-6003