Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand Announces $68 Million In Fed Funding For Rochester Laser Lab Has Passed Senate Appropriations Committee

May 22, 2015

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced that the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee and the Senate Appropriations Committee passed an Energy and Water Appropriations bill that includes $68 million for the University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE). Schumer and Gillibrand continued their multi-year effort of advocating for funding for LLE during the appropriations process this year and this funding will ensure the University of Rochester can continue the critical research being done in at the lab. The FY2016 funding will remain the same as FY2015, which will allow LLE to avoid potential layoffs, support roughly 300 local jobs and keep the facility fully funded. The funding will provide the necessary resources to support the lab’s research program and operations and experiments on OMEGA, which is the second most powerful ultraviolet fusion laser in the world. Absent this level of funding, the lab could have been forced to lay off scientists and engineers, and reduce their capacity and partnerships with national laboratories.

“This is a major milestone in our quest to secure the funding needed to allow the University of Rochester laser lab to continue its world-class research in fusion power. It will also ensure the lab can continue supporting roughly 300 local jobs and will not be forced to lay off the scientists and engineers who are the force behind the lab’s great work,” said Senator Schumer. “This funding will keep the U of R at the forefront of this cutting-edge research and provide good-paying jobs to the people of Rochester.”

“This critical funding will help keep the University of Rochester at the forefront of our nation’s scientific research,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The University of Rochester has the reputation, knowhow and resources to advance this critical industry- creating the jobs and growing businesses of the future here in New York.”

“I want to express my sincere gratitude to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for securing $68 million for the Laboratory for Laser Energetics in the FY 2016 Senate Energy and Water Appropriations bill,” said University of Rochester President Joel Seligman. “Funding at this level averts a proposed $7.5 million reduction and provides the necessary support for the Laboratory’s mission to enhance our national and economic security, and to be at the forefront of efforts to explore nuclear fusion as a source of clean energy for the future.”

Established in 1970, the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) of the University of Rochester is a unique national resource for research and education in science and technology and a major asset of the University not found at any other university in the country. Both the Rochester area and the University have a history of innovation that provides a singular environment for LLE within a technologically sophisticated scientific community.

LLE is home to the OMEGA laser, which is the second most powerful ultraviolet fusion laser in the world, and the OMEGA EP (Extended Performance) laser, a high-intensity, high-energy short-pulse laser, and serves as the principal laser research facility for three national laboratories. The center’s primary goal is to investigate the interaction of intense radiation with matter and to support the National Ignition Campaign (NIC) using OMEGA and OMEGA EP as well as validate advanced concepts for ICF to be used on the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in order to demonstrate ignition and energy gain. It is a vital component of our nation’s scientific capital and leadership, and key to strategic work on an independent energy future.

As one of the leading institutions training the next generation of leaders in the fields of physics, optics, and material science, LLE is an economic development magnet that bolsters local high tech jobs and attracts scientific talent to Rochester. The LLE currently employs 314 full-time staff members and 5 contract employees, plus collaborates with 27 University Faculty members. Since its inception, the LLE has attracted almost $2 billion to New York State to support cutting edge research, and more than 1,000 individuals are currently involved in the program. The University also attracts as many as 300 additional visiting scientists each year to Rochester from national laboratories, universities, and companies and currently hosts 115 students (graduate, undergraduate, and high school).

The $68 million allocated to LLE in FY2015 and FY2016 is an increase of $4 million over the $64 million allocated to the Lab in FY2014 and a nearly $10 million increase over the $58.75 allocated to the Lab in FY2013 under sequestration budget.