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Statement on potential federal cuts in laser research

The University was disappointed to learn that the Administration’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposes a significant cut to the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) in FY19 and “a three-year ramp-down” in federal support. We are trying to make sense of this proposal, which jeopardizes the cutting-edge science and world-class education being conducted at the Lab.

The Lab is exceeding all its scientific milestones set by the U.S. Department of Energy and has grown to be DOE’s largest university-based research center in the nation. It is home to the DOE’s National Laser Users’ Facility, which brings more than 400 scientists from across the country and the world to Rochester to use its facility, and is in the final stages of its renewal of its 5-year, $345M Cooperative Agreement with the federal government. In addition to the more than 350 highly skilled scientific and engineering staff, over 100 students from multiple institutions are conducting research on LLE’s state of the art laser facilities.

Although we are concerned by these developments, we are encouraged by the historic, strong bipartisan support the LLE has enjoyed from the New York Congressional delegation, the State of New York, and the U.S. Congress, which recognizes the significant contributions the LLE makes to national and economic security, as well as the strategic work being done that can lead to an independent energy future.

We thank and acknowledge our Congressional delegation for their consistent leadership and support. We are also heartened by the recent two-year bipartisan budget agreement agreed to by Congress that provides increased funding for university-based scientific research. We look forward to working with our delegation to provide robust, sustainable support for the LLE in FY18 and FY19 and avert this potentially devastating cut so it can maintain U.S. global leadership and security and continue to be an engine for regional economic growth and innovation.