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Ames Lab at a Glance

Ames Laboratory is one of the U.S. Department of Energy's 10 Office of Science research laboratories, and is operated by Iowa State University for the DOE. The Ames Laboratory also directs and houses the Critical Materials Institute, a DOE Energy Innovation Hub.

Ames Laboratory had its beginnings in the 1940s, when research at Iowa State for the United States government developed a highly efficient process for producing high-purity uranium for atomic energy.  The Ames Project produced more than 2 million pounds of pure uranium for the Manhattan Project. In 1947, the Atomic Energy Commission formally established the Ames Laboratory.

At the forefront of current materials research, high-performance computing, and environmental science and management efforts, the Laboratory seeks solutions to energy-related problems of national concern through the exploration of physics, chemistry, engineering, applied mathematics and materials sciences

Divisions and Programs:

Chemical and Biological Sciences - We conduct fundamental and applied studies of how to control and manipulate chemicals and biological materials, with expertise in developing new tools and methods to understand what drives chemical and biological processes. 

Critical Materials Institute - Ames Laboratory leads the team of researchers from national laboratories, universities and industry who are committed to addressing the nation's critical and near-critical materials needs. 

Materials Science and Engineering - We are an internationally recognized leader in materials sciences, developing new ways to produce and use existing materials, and discovering new environmentally friendly materials to meet global challenges.

Simulation, Modeling and Decision Science - We develop computational tools, algorithms, and strategies to analyze, understand, create, design and build complex engineered, natural, or human systems.


Ames Laboratory scientists are committed to helping inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.  Each year, numerous undergraduate  and graduate students work in real-world research settings with Lab scientists to gain hands-on experience in solving scientific problems.  Once they leave the Ames Lab, these students put their skills to work in a variety of disciplines, in academia, industry, new business and government.  

Students and faculty from colleges and universities around the country participate annually in Ames Laboratory-s internship program.  This program includes the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI), the Community College Internship (CCI) and the Visiting Faculty Program (VFP).  Students spend from 10 to 16 weeks working with scientists/mentors conducting research on real-world problems.

In addition, the Ames Laboratory reaches out to Iowa students through its annual High School and Middle School Science Bowls.  These premier science competitions in Iowa bring over 300 students together for a fast-paced quiz-bowl competition, in which winners advance to national competition.