Last year, West Virginia University received more than $1 million in career enhancement opportunities from Oak Ridge Associated Universities.

At a meeting with faculty on WVU’s campus this week, ORAU University Partnerships Specialist Steve Roberts discussed how the organization assisted 46 members of the WVU community. Roberts visited the Morgantown campus to learn more about WVU’s capabilities and to encourage greater involvement in ORAU programs such as the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award.

One of the faculty members in attendance, Resource Economics Assistant Professor J. Wesley Burnett, was on hand to accept his commemorative plaque as a winner of a 2013 Powe Award.

“ORAU surveyed previous Powe Award winners and we learned that recipients valued the prestige that comes with the award even more than the money. The program is viewed as extremely competitive nationally,” Roberts said.

Oak Ridge Associated Universities is a non-profit organization with 1,270 employees and a 109-member, nationwide consortium of higher education institutions that provides scientific, health, and security expertise to advance research and education, protect health and environment, and strengthen national security.

What the founders envisioned during a dinner conversation one night in the mid-1940s as an entity to link the scientific resources of the Manhattan Project with regional universities is now a $385 million enterprise serving more than 20 federal and state agencies.

Roberts described a variety of opportunities through his organization, including the Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates and Students, the ORAU/Oak Ridge National Laboratory High Performance Computing Grant Program, the ORAU Events Sponsorship Program, and the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. Through the institute, faculty and students can obtain research appointments at national laboratories and federal agencies including the U.S. departments of defense, agriculture, energy, and homeland security and the Centers for Disease Control, the Environmental Protection Agency, the FBI, and the Food and Drug Administration.

“ORAU also offers a relatively new Travel Grants Program with a budget that has yet to be fully tapped,” Roberts said. The program provides up to $800 to allow a faculty member from an ORAU member-institution to visit researchers at the national laboratory, Y-12 National Security Complex, ORAU laboratories or work sites, or another ORAU institution.

In addition to its traditional grants and awards programs, ORAU joins in partnerships with its member institutions to compete for large-scale projects from funding agencies. As an example, Roberts cited Vanderbilt University’s involvement in a federally funded, ORAU-led research project to study the Tennessee Valley Authority slurry impoundment failure that released 5.4 million cubic yards of sludge into nearby tributaries of the Tennessee River.

“ORAU provides an excellent return on the university’s $1,000 annual membership fee,” said WVU’s ORAU councilor, Richard Bajura.

Faculty, research staff, and students can contact Bajura for more information at or (304) 293-6034.



CONTACT: Richard Bajura
(304) 293-6034,

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