It’s been more than two months now since I joined the Lab, and what a two months it has been. Change is in the air, from the administration’s new priorities to the ways in which we work.
With change comes opportunity. The ALD retreat in October, held following COVID protocols, provided a forum for us to consider both change and opportunity. At the retreat, we began exciting and substantive discussions about some of the shared, cross-area priorities that span the Lab’s research mission, as well as some of our shared operations needs and challenges across the Lab. These discussions are continuing in our weekly ALD meetings. My hope is that by working together, we will build the momentum needed to tackle some really tough national technical challenges.
As we navigate these changes and opportunities, we will need to brush up on our innovation skills. As scientists, we already innovate in our own research. We must extend those skills, applying analytical thinking, collaborative work, adaptability, and risk-taking to new ways of working, to partnering with others at the Lab and beyond who can apply fresh thinking to a problem, or to the development of new tools that can accelerate research and development. We are fortunate at the Lab to have many resources at our disposal and opportunities to explore.
In this newsletter you will read about how some Lab groups and teams have been innovating for many years to make their distributed teams effective and productive. You will also see a video clip from DOE Chief Commercialization Officer Vanessa Chan reminding us that failure is a catalyst for progress.
In this era of change, some things will remain constant: our values. Team science, service, trust, innovation, and respect are the bedrock of the Lab, and should inform the behaviors we must strive to practice daily. In this newsletter and in our conversations with each other, we will examine these values and how we can better embody them.
I feel fortunate to have landed among such a talented and dedicated group of people, and look forward to the adventures that await us.
Deputy Laboratory Director for Research
Chief Research Officer
BIOEPIC Breaks Ground
Left to Right: Susan Hubbard, Associate Laboratory Director for Earth & Environmental Sciences; Michael Brandt, Deputy Lab Director for Operations; Mike Witherell, Laboratory Director; Carol Burns, Deputy Lab Director for Research; and Paul Adams, Associate Laboratory Director for Biosciences
On Oct. 28, the Lab marked the groundbreaking for the Biological & Environmental Program Integration Center (BioEPIC), a next-generation facility for studying interactions among microbes, water, soil, and plants. The groundbreaking ceremony at the Bayview site included members of Berkeley Lab leadership, science groups involved with BioEPIC, site cleanup and construction groups, and the construction contractor.
The Way We Work is Here: ESnet, EMP, and Phenix Teams Share their Experiences
As the Lab transitions to the future of work, many are wondering what it will look like for their teams. In fact, some teams at the Lab have been virtual, remote, or hybrid for many years. Read about the experiences of the Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), ETA’s Electricity Markets and Policy (EMP) Department, and the Biosciences Area’s Phenix software team–the advantages and challenges of virtual and hybrid teams, and the strategies they employed to ensure sustained effectiveness and productivity.
Also watch the video recording below (in “Good to Know”) on collaborative meetings and tools in a hybrid environment.
Lab Postdocs are Winners of SLAM Competitions
Congratulations to the Lab and Bay Area SLAM contest winners! The SLAM is a competition where contestants are challenged to present a compelling three-minute presentation of their research in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.
In the Sept. 23 annual Lab SLAM contest, first place went to Lydia Rachbauer from the Biosciences Area, for her presentation, “From Waste To Wanted – The Seaweed Story.” Second place and the People’s Choice Award went to Ryan Kingsbury from Energy Technologies, for “If the Shoe Fits.” Third place went to Rajiv Ramanujam Prabhakar from Energy Sciences, for “CO2: What Is It Good For?”. The contest was organized by the Career Pathways Office and co-hosted by David Gilbert, Senior Manager of Communications and Outreach at the Joint Genome Institute, and Sinead Griffin, Staff Scientist in the Material Sciences Division.
The three winners also participated in the inaugural Bay Area Research SLAM for the Bay Area’s National Labs (Berkeley Lab, Livermore Lab, Sandia Lab, and SLAC Lab) on Oct. 28, where Lydia won first place and the People’s Choice Award, and Ryan won third place.
If you missed the winning presentations, you can view them here.
Security Agencies Provide Complementary Funding for Lab Research
Many at the Lab are aware of the opportunities offered by the national security-related agencies, which include the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and the intelligence community. Funding offered by these agencies often complements funding from other, traditional sources, advancing core research programs at the Lab. Two Lab research programs, in the Physical Sciences Area and the Biosciences Area, are recent examples.
Spotlight on Innovation: DOE’s Chief Commercialization Officer Vanessa Chan Talks about Failure
Are you afraid to fail? In this two-minute video clip from the Intellectual Property Office, the DOE’s Chief Commercialization Officer Vanessa Chan talks about how to embrace failure and turn it into a catalyst for success. View the full interview.
Spotlight on Respect: Name Change Initiative FAQ
This summer, in an effort led by Berkeley Lab, all 17 National Laboratories along with many prominent publishers, journals, and other organizations announced their support of researchers wishing to change their names on published research outputs. The National Laboratories will implement name changes on researchers’ behalf, reducing the burden on them to initiate name changes on past published research. The Lab will implement name changes for any reason; the initiative is transgender-inclusive and will allow researchers of all genders to own their academic work.
Save the Date: Lab COVID-Related Research Spotlight Event on Dec. 2
A year and a half ago, the Department of Energy issued an urgent call for research related to SARS-CoV-2, and Lab researchers leaped into action. Hear how your colleagues have contributed to research to address the pandemic. The virtual event will be on Thursday, December 2, from noon to 1 p.m.
Save the Date: Berkeley Lab to Host Energy Storage Summit, March 8-9, 2022
Meeting our nation’s energy and climate goals require advancements in energy storage, which the DOE is pursuing through Energy Earthshots and the Energy Storage Grand Challenge. Berkeley Lab is hosting a summit on March 8-9, 2022 to harness science, technology, and policy to accelerate energy storage solutions for our nation. This virtual public summit will convene and connect national and regional thought leaders across industry, government, communities, and the research enterprise to catalyze solutions and partnerships around specific challenges in this area, and enable our nation’s just transition to a clean, affordable, and resilient energy future, in line with the goals of our Berkeley Lab Energy Storage Center. Many thanks to the more than 75 Lab staff on the event Steering Committee and Execution Committee who are helping to make this event a success. For more information on the summit and to register, visit national-energy storage-summit.lbl.gov.
The Way We Work Video: Collaborative Meetings and Tools in a Hybrid Environment
To help you navigate the way we work, view this replay of the Lab’s Nov. 8 session on collaborative tools and meetings, led by Lab Deputy Chief Operating Officer Ellen Ford and featuring:
Adam Stone and Luis Corrales from IT on collaborative tools
Melanie Alexandre from EH&S on ergonomic options
Aditi Chakravarty, the Lab’s chief diversity officer, on how to ensure everyone is included in hybrid meetings
Joanna Martinez on learning resources to help develop hybrid teams