As will be discussed in Chapter 9, this stabilization may be due to recent increases in funding opportunities aimed at academic pipeline issues.
Data sources for tracking nuclear and radiochemistry expertise are limited and sporadic. Many of the data sources typically used to assess workforce, such as the Survey of Earned Doctorates or Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Outlook do not specifically track the nuclear and radiochemistry field. For years, the ACS DNCT has attempted to keep track of and make available information on educational opportunities in nuclear and radiochemistry, largely through the efforts of one person. Thus, there is no comprehensive and complete data source regarding nuclear and radiochemistry workforce from which to draw data on a routine basis. The lack of a consistent basis set of data makes it difficult to assess the effectiveness of various programs attempting to address academic pipeline issues, since it is harder to quantify, make comparisons, and interpret trends. Tracking the supply and demand of nuclear and radiochemists is a relatively low-cost endeavor that will be important for prudent investment of public funds and to assure that future significant gaps between the human resource supply and the job market are identified with sufficient advance notice to effect any needed changes.
There are currently few active graduate programs that have more than one nuclear chemist in the department. Out of over 100 chemistry graduate programs across the United States, only 13 have two or more active nuclear and radiochemistry faculty members (Table 3-1). At the same time, these institutions produced the majority of Ph.D.s in the field over the past 10 years (91/114 or 79 percent). This strongly suggests that programs that are centered upon a single nuclear or radiochemistry faculty member are unsustainable. Critical facility needs for nuclear and radiochemistry research and education are lost when university programs are lost through attrition. The costs to re-initiate a research facility at a new institution are much higher than maintaining or upgrading existing facilities, but neither will take place without sufficient critical mass of faculty to support the facility.
There is little or no nuclear and radiochemistry coursework being offered at U.S. universities. The committee identified only 12 chemistry departments that offer one or more courses developed entirely or in part to nuclear and radiochemistry. Only two offer three or more courses. In addition, the committee found that only five out of the top 25 ranked U.S. chemistry departments have nuclear and radiochemistry research and/or coursework.