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Suggested Citation:"7 Crosscutting Conclusions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. An Assessment of Selected Divisions of the Physical Measurement Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology: Fiscal Year 2021. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26312.
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Page 36
Suggested Citation:"7 Crosscutting Conclusions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. An Assessment of Selected Divisions of the Physical Measurement Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology: Fiscal Year 2021. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26312.
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Page 37
Suggested Citation:"7 Crosscutting Conclusions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. An Assessment of Selected Divisions of the Physical Measurement Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology: Fiscal Year 2021. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26312.
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Page 38

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7 Crosscutting Conclusions This chapter contains conclusions that apply across more than one group or program in the PML that was reviewed. TECHNICAL QUALITY OF THE WORK The accomplishments of PML’s staff are many and significant, spanning an extremely broad array of topics and including both research and support of the practical development of measurement standards. The staff innovatively develop and apply novel devices and techniques to solve important problems that affect industry, academic researchers, federal government agencies, and society in general. Their work is effectively aligned with the NIST mission and is frequently performed in collaboration with researchers from those organizations. PML staff made commendable contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic. From March 2020, when staff were required to work remotely, PML staff ensured that essential services were performed for their customers, in support of national security, national well-being, and commerce. PML staff also answered the call to address measurement issues relating to combatting the virus, such as disinfecting agents and storage of vaccines. TECHNICAL EXPERTISE OF THE STAFF All the divisions of the PML have the scientific and engineering staff with the appropriate level of expertise to deliver on their mission. In many cases, the staff are the best or among the best in their field of research. Staff have received numerous awards from professional organizations and from the Department of Commerce, which houses NIST. The gender and minority employment gaps that are still strongly and broadly plaguing STEM fields remain an acknowledged significant challenge at NIST as well. The PML has implemented a plan to improve equity, diversity, and inclusion that involves the following features: monitoring promotion and salary data to ensure an equitable process; publishing promotion criteria so that staff know what is expected; mentoring by supervisors on how to advance; reviewing the pay level of all staff members with more than 8 years of service; participating in the APS-IDEA in partnership with Howard University; sponsoring of and participating in conferences to increase women and minority participation in physics and other STEM fields; and supporting the PML Inclusivity Council, an internal grassroots organization working to identify barriers to inclusion and propose remedies. Addressing the challenge of staff attrition could provide opportunity to address diversity challenges as well. It is expected that in future years PML will demonstrate greater efforts and progress in diversity, equity, and inclusion. 36

ADEQUACY OF RESOURCES Generally, but with significant exceptions, staff are provided with adequate equipment and facilities to perform their tasks to a high degree of quality. Noteworthy exceptions include aging facilities in urgent need of upgrade, delayed maintenance on aging equipment, and an apparent lack of supercomputing support. All divisions reported concern about the adequacy of staffing levels, particularly given an aging workforce and severe competition for postdoctoral researchers and other new hires. Each division indicated initiation of strategic planning exercises with an eye toward addressing the current and predicted challenges associated with the limitations of equipment, facilities, and human resources. EFFECTIVENESS OF DISSEMINATION OF OUTPUTS PML staff are effectively disseminating the results of their work through appropriate means that include publication of research results; delivery of standard reference materials and standard reference data; performance of calibrations for industrial, academic, and government customers; participation on standards committees; sponsorship of workshops; and educational programs. Some customers, however, have complained about the time taken and cost associated with purchased calibration services and about the inadequate information provided by the web-based NIST Storefront interface for purchasing measurement services, and about the lack of information about which services are currently available. 37

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At the request of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has, since 1959, annually assembled panels of experts from academia, industry, medicine, and other scientific and engineering environments to assess the quality and effectiveness of the NIST measurements and standards laboratories, as well as the adequacy of the laboratories' resources. This report assesses the scientific and technical work performed by the NIST Physical Measurement Laboratory in the Quantum Measurement Division, Radiation Physics Division, Sensor Science Division, Microsystems and Nanotechnology Division, and Nanoscale Device Characterization Division.

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