U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that they secured $8 million in federal funding for a partnership between the U.S. Air Force’s High Performance Materials program and Cornell University’s High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) laboratory in the recently-passed, bipartisan Senate Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Defense Appropriations bill, which is expected to pass the House in the coming weeks. The senators said that CHESS, home of one of only two high-energy synchrotron X-ray sources in the entire country, has played a pivotal role in a multitude of medical discoveries and scientific breakthroughs, including the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Gillibrand wrote to Senate appropriators earlier this year to advocate for this funding.
“The Cornell CHESS Lab plays an incredibly important role for both the U.S. Air Force and the entire scientific community, so it is critical we continue to invest in its success. Through their exceedingly successful partnership with the Air Force, the CHESS Lab has developed better materials for our aircraft, ensuring that they are sturdier and perform at a higher level,” said Senator Schumer. “This critical investment will allow the Air Force to maintain this fruitful relationship with the CHESS Lab, keeping our aircraft at the pinnacle of excellence. I’m proud of the role I played in securing this essential funding and will keep working in the Senate to provide the world-class CHESS Lab with the resources they need to advance their groundbreaking research.”
“CHESS is a major asset for New York and the nation,” said Senator Gillibrand, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Committee. “This lab has produced scientific breakthroughs that have helped develop advanced materials for aircraft used by the U.S. Air Force, and it is one of only two locations in the country with the advanced x-ray technology necessary to produce these materials for the U.S. Air Force and other industries, including manufacturing and infrastructure. I was proud to help secure funding for this groundbreaking facility in the recently passed Defense Appropriations bill, and I will always fight to secure funding for New York’s scientific research community.”
Cornell University President Martha E. Pollack said, “Cornell University is deeply grateful to Leader Schumer and Senator Gillibrand for securing $8 million in additional funding for CHESS in the FY2019 Department of Defense Appropriations bill. Maintaining our scientific infrastructure is essential if the U.S. is to keep its competitive advantage in research and development. Over the years, taxpayers have invested more than $1 billion in CHESS, an investment that’s paid off many times over in new discoveries, breakthrough technologies, STEM education, and workforce development. This effort by Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to formalize CHESS’s long-standing research collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory ensures that this vital facility will remain productive into the future.”
CHESS is a high-energy synchrotron light source, which is a highly-sophisticated x-ray machine. CHESS is one of only two national hard x-ray synchrotron facilities in the country, and the only one located at a research university. For that reason, CHESS serves the nation as a unique training ground for the scientific workforce needed to keep the U.S. competitive. CHESS is a multi-disciplinary facility that supports critical research in physics, materials science, chemistry, biology, engineering, and art history. The facility, which also carries out basic research in accelerator science, is used by universities, the government and private industries across New York, the country and world.
For over 10 years, the U.S. Air Force has funded a High Performance Materials research program centered at CHESS. This award-winning program has been responsible for developments related to the deterioration of metal over time, what materials are best suited to the manufacturing of aircraft, and numerous others. This research has allowed the Air Force to save significant funds in terms of both the manufacturing and maintenance of aircraft. The $8 million in federal funding from the FY2019 Defense Appropriations bill will allow the Air Force to continue their crucial partnership with CHESS.
CHESS is a national user facility, funded primarily by the National Science Foundation. Senator Schumer is a long-time advocate for CHESS and was instrumental in facilitating the process that allowed CHESS to submit a peer-reviewed proposal that, based on scientific merit, resulted in a five-year, $100 million award from NSF in 2014. Since that time, CHESS has continued to forge ahead with its groundbreaking work.
Recognizing the regional economic and scientific importance of this critical and distinctive piece of infrastructure, Schumer and Gillibrand have long been advocates and supporters of the CHESS lab, previously pushing for and securing funding to ensure the preservation of this important asset.