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Cornell High-Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) Is One Of Only Two High-Energy Synchrotron X-Ray Sources In U.S.; The Lab Has Generated Revolutionary Scientific Research In Numerous Fields, Including Discoveries That Led To Two Nobel Prizes 

Thanks To Schumer’s Years Of Work, CHESS Went From The Chopping Block To An Expansion That Will Create A New Frontier For National Innovation That Is Primed To Tap More Investment From Schumer’s Bipartisan Innovation and Competition Act

Schumer: New Funding & Expansion Means Ithaca-Based Research Will Lay The Foundation For Innovation Jobs In Upstate NY

Building on his relentless advocacy to bolster Upstate New York as a global leader in innovation and manufacturing, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced he has secured $8.5 million in additional federal funding for the award-winning Cornell High-Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) Lab. This funding comes as the CHESS Lab breaks ground on a new $32 million expansion funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), in partnership with the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (National MagLab), to build a High Magnetic Field (HMF) beamline; exceeding scientific capabilities of any other facility in the world. This funding is the culmination of years of advocacy by Senator Schumer, who when CHESS faced potentially losing its NSF funding in 2012, was instrumental in preventing cuts. Schumer said this latest expansion will support the over 150 good-paying science and tech-based jobs at CHESS, plus over 150 new jobs in construction and to run the HMF beamline and will lay the foundation for a growing innovation economy in Upstate New York and continued American global leadership in research.

“The next frontier of scientific innovation and the good-paying jobs that work creates are being developed right here in Ithaca. When CHESS faced major cuts in federal support 10 years ago, I fought tooth and nail to ensure its pioneering research and hundreds of research jobs would remain here in Upstate New York, and today’s new funding and expansion confirms the tremendous potential this facility holds for the future of scientific discovery and for Upstate’s innovation economy,” said Senator Schumer. “There is nowhere in the world that can do everything that is done under one roof here at CHESS– innovative work that will boost our nation’s global competitiveness, create good-paying local jobs, and further solidify America’s position as the global leader in cutting-edge technology.”

 Cornell University president Martha E. Pollack said, “CHESS has been one of the crown jewels of scientific exploration at Cornell for more than 40 years. In that time, it has enabled countless discoveries and innovations, and become a world leader in X-ray science research and education. The addition of our new High Magnetic Field beamline, supported by an inaugural Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure award from the National Science Foundation, will open new realms of exploration for CHESS and its partners. It would not have been possible without Senator Schumer’s steadfast support for NSF as a whole – particularly through his critical leadership on the U.S. Innovation & Competition Act – and for CHESS in particular.”

Research facilities are transforming towards an emphasis on innovation-driven research, translation, and external impact,” said Joel Brock, Director of CHESS. "CHESS and Cornell University are in an exceptional position to lead the nation as this trend continues. Senator Schumer’s support for investments in CHESS not only allow us to build a world-class research infrastructure, but also enable us to develop a technical ?workforce of the future that reflects the full diversity of our country." 

Schumer explained that CHESS is a high-energy synchrotron light source, which is a highly-sophisticated x-ray machine and one of only two facilities in the country with this technology. The $32.6 million NSF-funded expansion for the HMF beamline will combine the nation’s top national X-ray user facility, CHESS, with a new high-strength magnet to create the only facility of its kind in the nation. The senator said that these new capabilities will help spur scientific discoveries in a range of fields from quantum materials research to chemistry and biology. The CHESS Lab’s research has played a pivotal role in a multitude of medical discoveries and scientific breakthroughs, including directly contributing to two Nobel Prizes.

Senator Schumer is a long-time advocate for CHESS and ensuring its continued success in Ithaca. In 2012, when it appeared that CHESS was on the chopping block from receiving NSF funding, Schumer personally called Dr. Subra Suresh, then Director of the National Science Foundation, and received assurances that CHESS would be able to submit a peer-reviewed proposal for continued support as an NSF-funded facility. This intervention directly resulted in CHESS receiving, based on scientific merit, two five-year NSF awards, one worth $100 million and the other $49 million in 2014 and 2019 respectively, ensuring the longevity of the facility and making today’s expansion possible.  The senator has also long-championed federal assistance to CHESS from the Air Force to support critical research and technology development.

The $8.5 million in federal funding the senator delivered this year, as a part of the Fiscal Year 2022 spending package, will allow the U.S. Air Force’s Applied Research in Materials program to utilize a sub-facility at CHESS consisting of two high-energy X-ray beamlines optimized for Air Force research needs, enabling researchers, collaborators, and original equipment manufacturers to employ real-time, three-dimensional x-ray characterization methods to test a broad range of mission-critical structural and functional materials. CHESS research has led to the development of higher performance materials for tactical aircraft, and the Air Force Research Laboratory research conducted at CHESS, like that funded by today’s announcement, has resulted in significant savings in aircraft development and maintenance costs.

In addition to today’s announcement, Schumer highlighted his bipartisan U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), which will make significant investments in federal research and development (R&D), STEM education and workforce training, entrepreneurship, and domestic manufacturing, bolstering facilities like CHESS and communities like Ithaca and Upstate New York, which have robust research and tech sectors.

Schumer added, “Now, more than ever, federal funding is needed to ensure that the U.S. stays ahead of our international competitors in the race to develop and build the next generation of high tech. If we do not invest now in research, workforce, and manufacturing, we will be vulnerable to continued supply chain challenges that raise costs on working families and jeopardize U.S. jobs, and national security. That is why I wrote the bipartisan U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which will significantly scale support for innovation hubs like Ithaca and I will continue to fight to ensure Upstate New York receives the necessary federal investment to build America’s future.”

Schumer highlighted several programs in his innovation and competition bill USICA that could bolster current research at Cornell University and the creation of innovation jobs across the Ithaca community, including:

  • Increasing investment for NSF Research and Development Programs and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and training programs. Schumer said that top tier research institutions like Cornell University and technical training schools like Tompkins Cortland Community College are in a strong position to compete for these federal funds. The legislation also incorporates a series of new programs, including programs for STEM education for underrepresented populations, including rural students, and skilled technical education to prepare workers for tech jobs.
  • Launching a new Directorate of Technology and Innovation at the NSF to support R&D in key technologies by increasing STEM education, building regional innovation centers, and supporting technology transfer and entrepreneurship programs. Schumer said that a major increase in this kind of federal support puts cutting-edge facilities like the CHESS Lab and the region’s other research institutions in a unique position to benefit from further federal investment. 
  • Scaling up federal investment in supply chains and American manufacturing, including $2.4 billion for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and $1.2 billion for the Manufacturing USA program. This investment would triple the Department of Commerce’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), which funds centers like the Alliance for Manufacturing and Technology, which assists small and mid-sized manufacturers across the Southern Tier with cybersecurity, workforce training, and supply chain support. Schumer’s bill also includes $52 billion in federal funds to expand domestic semiconductor manufacturing and R&D, which could boost Cornell’s semiconductor research. His bill further creates a supply chain resiliency program to bring manufacturing back to America and help address supply chain vulnerabilities that are driving up costs on working families and disrupting the economy.
  • Creating a new $10 billion Regional Technology Hubs program through the Department of Commerce to support regional economic development efforts to build hubs around the country to not only research and innovate technologies but also manufacture them here in America. The technology hubs would carry out efforts on strengthening manufacturing and domestic supply chains, workforce training, business and entrepreneur development, technology transfer and commercialization, and infrastructure improvements to boost innovation and manufacturing across the country.

Schumer led USICA to Senate passage in June of last year. The House passed its companion legislation, the America COMPETES Act this past January. Last week Senator Schumer took an important step to the bill advancing to final passage, announcing Conferees to the Conference Committee to reconcile differences between the Senate and House passed bills in order to send final legislation to the President to sign into law.