From The Virginian-Pilot By Trevor Metcalfe

Jefferson Lab in Newport News plans to hire 60 new positions as part of $76.5 million in new federal funding. (Kristen Zeis)

Jefferson Lab, the Department of Energy particle accelerator facility in Newport News, plans to hire dozens of new positions and upgrade research equipment and workspaces with millions in new federal funding.

The national laboratory is getting $76.5 million in new funding as part of a federal spending bill signed by President Joe Biden on Aug. 16.

“America’s commitment to science and ingenuity shaped us into the world leaders we are today, and the continued success of our national laboratories will ensure we’re at the global forefront of innovation for generations to come,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said in a Nov. 4 announcement.

The funding will also help create 60 new positions at the lab, with an average annual salary of around $89,000, Jefferson Lab Chief Planning Officer Allison Lung said in an email.

Lung said the jobs “range from administrators to senior scientists while the majority of the openings are for engineers and designers.”

The jobs are part of a research partnership that will construct a nuclear physics research facility at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. Called the electron-ion collider project, Lung said the research will create a large detection machine for the basic building blocks of matter. Likening the project to a CT scanner for atoms, she said it will produce high-quality 3D images of the particles.

While it’s not possible to say what industrial applications the research will create at this time, Lung said past research has broad uses in fields like health care, computing and environmental cleanup.

“For example, technologies developed at Jefferson Lab for subatomic particle acceleration and detection are now part of cancer diagnostics and treatment across the country,” Lung said.

Jefferson Lab applied to host the $1.6 billion electron-ion collider project but was passed over in favor of the New York location in January 2020. The Lab is still a major partner in designing and building the project and so $33 million of the recent funding will go toward that project.

Funding will also be used to support a project researching the charge of electrons and will keep the project on schedule.

Additionally, the funding will be used on building and infrastructure improvements at the Lab. Lab leaders plan to renovate the main administration building and conference space, as well as fund a building expansion and the acquisition of additional existing office space. Also, the funding will help create 100,000 square feet of outdoor storage space for large experimental assemblies, support structures and equipment for future experiments and operations.

Trevor Metcalfe, 757-222-5345,