MSU, Argonne sign MOU for joint energy research

Contact: Zack Plair

Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum (from left) and Argonne National Laboratory Director Peter Littlewood signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday [Aug. 13] which will create a research partnership between the two institutions. (Photo by Megan Bean)STARKVILLE, Miss.—A new partnership between Mississippi State University and Argonne National Laboratory has made the university home to a major regional joint research initiative.

On Thursday [Aug. 13], MSU President Mark E. Keenum and Peter Littlewood, director of the Illinois-based Argonne National Laboratories, signed a memorandum of understanding which will create a research partnership between the two institutions.

The ceremony also was part of a daylong Joint Center for Energy Research (JCESR) symposium in the Mill at MSU Conference Center that brought researchers, energy business leaders and MSU faculty and staff together to discuss the future of energy storage. MSU was the host for the Southeast regional hub for JCESR.

David Shaw, MSU vice president for research and economic development, said the MOU would essentially combine Argonne’s lab resources, computing and analytics with the scientific expertise of MSU’s faculty and students to “accomplish things neither MSU nor Argonne could do alone.”

Specifically, he said the two entities would work together on developing longer lasting, more cost-effective batteries for utility use, as well as explore ways to develop alternative energy sources like solar and wind.

Further, he hopes MSU’s Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems and its meteorology department, respectively, can work with Argonne’s automotive center and weather modeling division on research initiatives.

“This is not as much about a financial commitment as it is about building a scientific partnership,” Shaw said. “This is a broad, wholesome agreement ranging way beyond energy storage.”

Littlewood said the MOU fits well with Argonne’s legacy of working with businesses, universities and other research labs toward promoting “safe, reliable and sustainable energy resources.” He said Argonne chose to bring its regional JCESR center to MSU because of the university’s science, engineering and technical capabilities.

“I look forward to this partnership,” Littlewood said. “Together, we have the potential to transform the utility and transportation markets.”

The MOU ceremony on Thursday also paid homage to, and brought full circle, efforts by the late U.S. Representative Alan Nunnelee to strengthen research opportunities in the state.

A member of both the Energy and Appropriations committees, Mississippi’s 1st district congressman brought national laboratories from all over the country to Mississippi in 2012 in an effort to inspire the state’s higher education institutions to partner with them, Shaw said.

Nunnelee, who passed away in February, wasn’t able to see the fruits of his labor, but his wife, Tori, and daughter, Emily, were on hand for the luncheon and MOU signing. Newly-elected 1st District Congressman Trent Kelly delivered the keynote address, in which he called Nunnelee a “solution-driven” leader with a passion for research and collaboration.

“We’re doing things now we never even dreamed were possible when our nation was founded,” Kelly said. “That’s because people came together, not worried about who got the credit, but worried about making our nation a better place to live.”

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at