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Providing Student News to Old Dominion University Since 1930

Mace & Crown

Providing Student News to Old Dominion University Since 1930

Mace & Crown

ODU and JLab Make History in “First of its Kind” Partnership

President Brian O. Hemphill orating his State of the University Address, where the collaboration was first announced. (Credit to Chuck Thomas, Senior University Photographer)

In rare form, Old Dominion University will begin a first of its kind partnership with the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, commonly known as JLab, in order to study health and environmental concerns in Hampton Roads. 


Founded and directed by ODU’s Dr. Heather Richter and Jlab’s Dr. Malachi Schram, the Joint Institute on Advanced Computing for Environmental Studies (ACES) “brings together interdisciplinary expertise to address critical scientific questions in medicine, public health, and climate in the context of the broader environment,” said ODU President Brian O. Hemphill. 


Hemphill announced at his 2023 State of the University Address that the joint institution marks JLab’s first academic collaboration, and thus, the only joint institute between a Virginia public university and the U.S. Department of Energy. 


“As the first of its kind in Virginia, we have formed the interdisciplinary power to study the complex systems that underpin health and environmental concerns in Hampton Roads,” Hemphill said.


In 1984, Jefferson Lab was established by the Southeastern Universities Research Association, whose membership included ODU, after some initial funding from the DOE. Now, JLab is one of the department’s national laboratories. There, scientists explore the principles of matter, particle acceleration, healthcare, and astrophysics on the national stage. 


The partnership comes as no surprise as ODU takes hold of new expansionist policies outlined in their 2023 Strategic Plan. An integration with Eastern Virginia Medical School, new schools of cybersecurity and maritime, and a new campus for Data Science in Virginia Beach are among the developments.


Dr. Heather Richter, at an ODU Board of Visitors meeting, stated that following ODU’s announcement of the joint institute other universities, including the University of Texas at Austin, had reached out to JLab requesting similar collaborations.


Board of Directors Rector Bruce Bradley responded that it was “nice to see various institutions jealous of Old Dominion.” Hemphill asked that his comment be struck from the minutes.

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Justice Menzel
Justice Menzel, Editor In Chief
Justice is an English Major with a concentration in Journalism in his Sophomore year at ODU. Outside of Mace & Crown, he writes and publishes freelance pieces and has directed a feature-length documentary. Contact him at

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