WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration selected eight universities to receive cooperative agreements totaling $100 million to establish nine Stewardship Science Academic Alliances (SSAA) Centers of Excellence to support research activities in areas of physical sciences and engineering. 

The SSAA program funds research grants and cooperative agreements to provide opportunities for scientific collaboration between the academic community and scientists at the DOE and NNSA national laboratories. A main objective of the SSAA is to develop and maintain a long-term recruiting pathway supporting the national laboratories by training and educating the next generation of scientists in critical areas of science and technology research relevant to stockpile stewardship.

“These cooperative agreements will allow NNSA to train the smartest and most skilled individuals while creating a direct pathway into our workforce with a diverse group of experts that can meet the evolving needs of the nuclear security enterprise,” said Dr. Kevin Greenaugh, Chief Science and Technology Officer for Defense Programs. 

The SSAA Centers of Excellence funding opportunity announcement is posted every five years. The proposals, submitted in response to a solicitation published last year, went through a competitive application process with an extensive peer review by subject matter experts. Overall, nine universities were selected to receive cooperative agreements in the research areas of advanced characterization of materials properties under extreme conditions, low energy nuclear science, radiochemistry, and high energy density physics.

The cooperative agreements will be awarded between May 2023 and June 2024. The total funding is $17 million in Fiscal Year 2023 with $83 million allocated in outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations for projects lasting up to five years in duration.

Launched in 2002, the SSAA supports areas of fundamental research and development relevant to NNSA’s stockpile stewardship mission and works to recruit the next generation of highly trained technical scientists and engineers for careers with the nuclear security enterprise.

The SSAA program includes the Laboratory Residency Graduate Fellowship and the Stewardship Science Graduate Fellowship and is one of five academic programs under NNSA along with the Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program including the Tribal Education Partnership Program, the High Energy Density Laboratory Plasmas, the Computational Science Graduate Fellowship, and the Predictive Science Academic Alliance Program.

The SSAA Centers of Excellence that were selected under this solicitation are as follows:




Principal Investigator

Colorado School of Mines


over 5 years

Advanced Characterization of Metals under Extreme Environments (ACME2)

Dr. Amy Clarke

Georgia Institute of Technology


over 5 years

Transuranic Chemistry Center of Excellence

Dr. Henry La Pierre

Texas A&M University


over 5 years

CENTAUR: Nuclear Science in Service to the Nation

Dr. Sherry Yennello

University of Alabama at Birmingham


over 5 years

Center for Additively Manufactured Complex Systems under Extremes (CAMCSE)

Dr. Yogesh Vohra

University of California, San Diego


over 5 years

The Center for Matter Under Extreme Conditions

Dr. Farhat Beg

University of Illinois Chicago


over 4 years

Chicago/DOE Alliance Center – A Center of Excellence for Materials at Extremes

Dr. Russell Hemley

University of Michigan


over 5 years

The Center for Magnetic Acceleration, Compression, and Heating (MACH)

Dr. Ryan McBride

University of Michigan


over 5 years

Center for High Energy Density Laboratory Astrophysics Research

Dr. Carolyn Kuranz

University of Texas at Austin


over 5 years

The Wootton Center for Astrophysical Plasma Properties

Dr. Don Winget