A high-energy petawatt laser, OMEGA EP, is currently under construction at the University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics. Integrated into the existing OMEGA laser, it will support three major areas of research: (a) backlighting of high-energy-density plasmas, (b) integrated fast ignition experiments, and (c) high-intensity physics. The laser will provide two beams combined collinearly and coaxially with short pulses (~1 to 100 ps) and high energy (2.6 kJ at 10 ps). Cone-in-shell fuel-assembly experiments and simulations of short-pulse heated cryogenic targets are being performed in preparation for cryogenic integrated fast ignitor experiments on OMEGA EP.