Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand: Senate Bill Saves Critical Funding at Brookhaven National Lab from Devastating Cuts – Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider and Continued Construction of National Snynchrotron Light Source 2 were Major Targets

May 3, 2012

United States Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced today that after working for weeks to increase funding for Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), the Senate Fiscal Year 2013 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill includes a net increase of $5 million over the president’s proposed budget that will enable BNL’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) to facilitate a 20 week run time for this vital research facility that serves 1,200 scientists and engineers from New York and around the world. Schumer and Gillibrand also noted that the Senate appropriations bill would provide funding to continue construction of the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), plus an additional $3 million above the president’s proposed budget to begin to transition beamlines from the NSLS to the NSLS-II. The president’s budget only proposed $158.6 million for RHIC, which would have only allowed a low run-time of less than 10 weeks, and $22 million for NSLS II. Schumer and Gillibrand announced today that they were able to increase RHIC funding in the Senate Bill to $163.3 million and increase funding to $25 million for the transition to the NSLS-II. 

“This funding will ensure that the world class research that is going on at Brookhaven doesn’t hit a brick wall,” said Schumer. “The research that goes on at Brookhaven has a profound impact on the development of technology, world-round, and at the same time serves as an engine for local jobs on Long Island.”

“Critical funding for Brookhaven National Laboratory will allow this world-class facility to continue to make significant contributions to science and technology and create thousands of high-tech jobs,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The ideas and theories generated by the thousands of scientists and researchers that visit the lab can only be made a reality if they have the proper resources and facilities at their disposal.”

RHIC is the first machine in the world capable of colliding heavy ions, which are atoms that have had their outer cloud of electrons removed. RHIC collides two beams of gold ions head-on when they are traveling at nearly the speed of light (what physicists call relativistic speeds). The beams travel in opposite directions around RHIC’s 2.4-mile, two-lane “racetrack.” When ions collide at such high speeds scientists are able to examine what the universe looked like in its infancy. RHIC is critical to helping advance medical imaging techniques, superconducting magnet energy storage systems, advanced accelerators for potential defense applications and new approaches to cancer treatment.


The National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) is one of the most widely used research facilities in the world and hosts 2,100 researchers from more than 400 universities, laboratories, and companies each year. Research conducted at the NSLS has yielded advances in biology, physics, chemistry, geophysics, medicine, and materials science. Synchrotron light is produced by electrons when they are forced to move in a curved path at nearly the speed of light. At the NSLS, beams of light in the x-ray, ultraviolet, and infrared wavelengths are produced by two synchrotrons for use in experiments. Transitioning to NSLS-II will allow for new research to be conducted by this next-generation X-ray light source user facility.


Brookhaven National Laboratory, established in 1947 and located in Upton, Long Island, is operated by Brookhaven Science Associates for the United States Department of Energy. Brookhaven’s staff of over 3,000 scientists, engineers and technicians specializes in nuclear physics research and has received an impressive six Nobel Prizes for their groundbreaking work. Brookhaven Lab’s programs include the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) designated to researching quark-gluon plasma, the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS), National Synchotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), and the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN). Brookhaven National Laboratory is the only multi-purpose national lab located in the Northeast and is an important economic engine in New York, generating more than $700 million in economic impact and creating 5,400 jobs throughout the state. 

The increased funding levels passed the Senate Appropriations Committee and will now head to the Senate floor for consideration.