The Material Measurement Laboratory (MML) is one of six laboratories of NIST1 and one of the NIST fundamental metrology laboratories.2 The preponderance of MML activity occurs at the Gaithersburg, Maryland, campus, with more than 80 percent of its staff and associates. There is a substantial presence as well on the NIST Boulder, Colorado, campus. Smaller deployments are scattered across a further four sites, including the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR)3 in Rockville, Maryland; the Hollings Marine Laboratory (HML)4 in Charleston, South Carolina; NIST Beamlines at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York; and the NIST Pacific Islands Program, in Oahu, Hawaii.
The MML “serves as the nation’s primary resource for advancing measurements essential to the chemical, biological, and materials sciences and related engineering disciplines.”5 The work of the laboratory is concentrated in the chemical, biological, and materials sciences to “bring focus to the development of exceptional measurement science expertise and capabilities, reference products and standards, and data science and data dissemination capabilities.” The MML further identified programmatic opportunities it is pursuing which include the following: Bioeconomy and Engineering Biology, Data and Artificial Intelligence, and the Circular Economy.6 The work of the MML is overall subsumed under three scientific and technical goals, which include (1) Measurement Science Excellence, (2) Measurement Service Excellence, and (3) Data Science and Data Management Capabilities, and a further two organizational goals, (4) strategic partnering and customer engagement and (5) organizational excellence.
There are six divisions and two offices. Five of the divisions—Materials Science and Engineering, Materials Measurement Science, Biosystems and Biomaterials, Biomolecular Measurement, and Chemical Sciences—are primarily located on the NIST campus in Gaithersburg, Maryland, are focused on research, as is a sixth, Applied Chemicals and Materials, located at the NIST Boulder campus at 325 Broadway. The two offices—Office of Reference Materials and the Office of Data and Informatics—are located on the Gaithersburg campus and are focused on measurement services. The MML identified challenges, including “Aging and Outdated Building Infrastructure” and “‘Large’ Equipment Needs and Uses.”7
1 The six National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) laboratories are the Communications Technology Laboratory, the Engineering Laboratory, the Information Technology Laboratory, the Material Measurement Laboratory, the Physical Measurement Laboratory, and the Center for Neutron Research.
2 Walter Copan, “Welcome to NIST,” presentation to the panel, September 9, 2020.
3 A joint research enterprise between University of Maryland and NIST.
4 A partnership between NIST, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the College of Charleston, and the Medical University of South Carolina.
5 NIST Material Measurement Laboratory, 2020, “National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: 2020 Assessment Read-Ahead Materials for September 9-11, 2020,” Gaithersburg, MD.
6 Ibid., p. 2.
TABLE 2.1 MML Annual Budgets ($000)
NOTE: STRS = Scientific and Technical Research and Services.
The budget authority for the MML was $195 million in fiscal year (FY) 2019. Details and prior-year funding appear in Table 2.1.
As of April 2020, there were 858 staff in the MML, including both federal employees and associates. The latter category includes roughly one-third of this number and includes students, postdoctoral associates, and contractors (see Figure 2.1). The allocation of staff to the six divisions, two offices, and the headquarters unit are shown in Figure 2.2.
While data on underrepresented minorities among staff were not readily available, for NIST overall roughly 1 in 11 STs (fellows) were minorities, and within the ZP (scientist) category, 1 in 6 at Level V were minorities, and at Levels III and IV it was 1 in 4.8
8 NIST, 2019, “Inclusivity at NIST: Recent Actions Supporting Equity in Career Advancement at NIST,” presentation to the Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology, October 24, Gaithersburg, MD.