The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) this week announced $3.1 million in research awards to nine schools and universities to foster leading edge research in radiological and nuclear detection at academic institutions.

The new awards follow a spate of other awards last month by DNDO to a number of companies for advanced technology demonstrations, exploratory research, and small business innovation research. DNDO is the DHS branch responsible for the development and procurement of technologies and systems for detecting and identifying radiological and nuclear threats to the United States.

Under the Academic Research Initiative (ARI) awards announced yesterday, the following institutions will get the grant funds: Texas A&M Univ.; Purdue Univ.; Washington State Univ.; Univ. of California at Berkeley; Naval Postgraduate School; Univ. of Tennessee at Knoxville; Univ. of Michigan at Ann Arbor; Univ. of California at Santa Barbara; and California State Univ. East Bay Foundation.

"It is our intention that our efforts through the Academic Research Initiative, combined with the support efforts of other federal agencies, to help cultivate the nuclear scientists and engineers of the future," DNDO Director Vayl Oxford said in a statement. "We will continue to expand our support in the coming years to demonstrate long-term, stable funding for innovative ideas that advance nuclear detection capabilities and build the nation’s intellectual capital."

DHS says there is a potential $58 million in grant opportunities available over a five-year period to colleges and universities for research into radiological and nuclear detection technologies. The ARI program was begun in 2007. Annual ARI solicitations are planned over the next three years.

Last month DNDO also announced through the FedBizOpps 17 new awards–ranging from $10,000 to $2 million–to companies big and small for research and development in the area of radiological and nuclear detection. Some of the awardees include Decision Sciences Corp., General Electric‘s [GE] Global Research Center, L-3 Communications [LLL] Security and Detection Systems business, OSI Systems [OSIS] Rapiscan division, Passport Systems, Radiation Monitoring Devices, and Raytheon [RTN].