On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) made a visit to Cornell’s Ithaca Campus in a groundbreaking ceremony for a new magnet research facility at Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source.
The ceremony marked $8.5 million in funding from the National Science Foundation for the construction of a $32.6 million expansion to CHESS: The High Magnetic Field X-Ray Beamline, a new expansion to CHESS’s facilities made in partnership with the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and the University of Puerto Rico.
Although CHESS receives fees from researchers who use the lab, the facility’s fundraising relies heavily on grants such as these from government sources, including the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Air Force Research Lab.
As a result of grant-reliance, CHESS’s budget has not always been stable. In 2012, Schumer’s lobbying helped save the facility from significant budget cuts.
At the groundbreaking ceremony, Schumer, who faces re-election this year in November, touted the additional jobs and scientific opportunities the new expansion will create, and the federal money he has directed to New York in his time in office.
In his presentation, Schumer also discussed the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021, a bill sponsored by Schumer meant to support scientific research amid the United States’ growing technological competition with China, which would provide another source of funding to facilities like CHESS.
In an interview with The Sun, Prof. Joel Brock, applied and engineering physics, the director of CHESS who also spoke at the presentation, expressed excitement for the scientific possibilities the new facilities could bring to research ranging from the study of new quantum materials to the diffusion of metal in plants.
Brock also described the grant as a promising sign for the future of the program.
“It sends a clear signal from the foundation that we’re growing, that they’re going to almost double in size,” Brock said. “There’s room for additional facilities in parallel, so everybody’s very excited about it.”
Several researchers, including Aine Connolly grad, a researcher in material science, voiced their excitement for this expansion, especially compared to when the program’s funding was in greater uncertainty last year.
“Scientists have told us the stuff that we’re bringing in, they never would have expected that to happen,” Connolly said. “They never would have expected anybody to try and set this up. So, I think it’s working wonderfully and we’re getting some really exciting results.”