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Research is one of the fundamental elements of sustaining and promoting national and global nu­clear security. The institute conducts collaborative re­search across its charter members, with governmental agencies, universities, and research centers nation­ally and on international level. We are engaged in collaboration with various federal and state agen­cies, international organizations, such as Interna­tional Atomic Energy Agency and World Institute for Nuclear Security, and US and foreign universities.

Key research areas for the Institute for Nuclear Security include:

  • Signatures of nuclear materials and pro­cesses;
  • Prevention, detection, interdiction, and response for illicit nuclear/radioactive threats;
  • Applications of nuclear probes for detection of security-relevant materials;
  • Application of nuclear security in real-world settings; and
  • Policy, law, and diplomacy relating to global nuclear security.

The institute fosters the development of collaborative research proposals in nuclear security applications as opportunities arise. The institute’s philosophy is to focus on areas where we can augment our re­search mission without interference to ongoing re­lationships and projects — therefore, not every proj­ect that is within the nuclear security thrust area is managed through the institute. In general, the institute tar­gets those large-scale, complex proposals wherein interdisciplinary and multiorganizational teams are best suited for the work.

As an example, the Institute for Nuclear Security was recently led the development of a major grant proposal to the Na­tional Nuclear Security Administration to establish a Radiochemistry Center of Excellence at UT. This proposal, which involved three separate academic departments, will establish an academic pipeline and center of excellence for NNSA’s nuclear stockpile stewardship mission area.

Funding for the institute’s research programs comes from a variety of sources, including the Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration, the Department of State, the University Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Y-12 National Security Complex, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, and others.