August 9, 2002 Search the Currents Archive

Protein “Hooks” Aid DNA Repair

Open House to Highlight Careers in Science

Currents Skips One Issue For Summer Hiatus
High Schoolers Get a Taste of Science
Washington Report
Clean Air Technology at Congressional Expo
DOE to Cut Yucca Mountain Site Costs by $10 Billion
Loose Lips in Science?
Berkeley Lab Currents
SUV Safety Questioned in Study of “Combined Risk”
Workshop Charts the Future of Nanogeoscience
Particle Physics Brochure Explores Multiple Dimensions
High School Students Come Face to Face with Science
QuarkNet Brings Latest Advances in Particle Physics to High School Classrooms
Contemporary Physics Education Project Workshop
Bulletin Board
EH&S Classes – August 2002
Lab to Host IBM Scientific Computing Users Group Meeting
Technology Transfer Department Offers Training Courses
Flea Market
Flea Market Policy

Protein “Hooks” Aid DNA Repair

By Paul Preuss

The coiled-coil tails of Rad50 proteins

Less than two years ago the National Cancer Institute launched a multidisciplinary “program project” to study the structural cell biology of DNA repair machines. Called SBDR for short, the $15 million program is based in Berkeley Lab’s Life Sciences Division (LSD) and involves 18 investigators at 11 institutions. A special beamline now under construction at the Advanced Light Source will aid the project.

On Aug. 1, Nature published SBRD’s first major result: the unexpected discovery of a “zinc hook” in an important protein complex that repairs DNA. John Tainer, a professor of molecular biology at the Scripps Research Institute who has a joint appointment in LSD, is SBDR’s principal investigator and the lead author of the Nature paper. SBRD’s co-principal investigator is Priscilla Cooper, acting director of LSD.

The DNA of all organisms is incessantly attacked by radiation, toxic chemicals, and other factors. Because damaged DNA can cause developmental abnormalities and a variety of diseases including cancer, constant repair of DNA is one of the most basic functions of life. Different proteins act together along different pathways to repair different kinds of damage. Some protein groups have been at it for billions of years. The proteins Mre11 and Rad50, for example, form repair complexes found in all kingdoms of life; their remarkably diverse functions include a role in cell division, maintenance of chromosome-capping telomeres, and repairing double-stranded breaks in DNA in two different ways.

To repair a double-strand break, the ends of the broken strands must be stripped of damaged or redundant bases before being brought together with a new length of DNA. The work is done by a complex of two Mre11s and two Rad50s that form a “binding head.”

The binding head is compact, but each of its Rad50s has a long tail, extending up to 600 angstroms, which consists of a coil of amino acids wound back around itself. Positioned where the tail bends back on itself is a sequence of four amino acid residues called the CXXC motif, which always begins and ends with cysteines (in different organisms there are different residues in the middle positions).

The researchers found that CXXC motifs are shaped like hooks. In the presence of zinc they can grapple the tails of other Rad50 proteins because the four cysteines, two in each tail, bind to a single, doubly ionized zinc atom. Discovery of this zinc-hook mechanism immediately suggested ways the Mre11 complex connects DNA strands and brings them together.

In a series of compelling electron micrographs, the researchers found Rad50 tail hooks linked to form double-headed complexes. Sometimes the twin tails of a single binding head link to each other; one unusual micrograph shows a single-headed complex of this kind binding to a length of DNA. Linked Mre11 complexes could bridge sister chromatids or join DNA ends; circular, single-headed Mre11 complexes could bring together two lengths of broken DNA.

More about SBDR will appear in Science Beat online.

Open House to Highlight Careers in Science

By Ron Kolb

Some might look at the October 5 Berkeley Lab Open House as one giant schoolroom. That reflects how much attention is being given to teachers and students as programming develops for the Saturday science-fest.

Rollie Otto and his staff at the Center for Science and Engineering Education (CSEE) have assembled a wide assortment of informative and fun activities for children of all ages. Add to that the kid-friendly projects that individual divisions are offering, and you have a virtual smorgasbord of learning for Bay Area families to enjoy.

Careers will be a special focus, too, and the Laboratory’s Human Resources Department is sponsoring a comprehensive Career Fair at the Open House, in the main cafeteria dining hall. Lab recruiters will provide information and instruction on how to pursue careers in science, including job opportunities at the Laboratory and internships for college and high school students. Representatives from Lab divisions and programs will be on hand to answer questions and, in some cases, conduct interviews. Preregistration of resumes will be available.

In conjunction with Open House, the Laboratory will sponsor “Careers in Science and Engineering” in schools throughout the Bay Area. On Sept. 23-27 and Oct. 1-2, Laboratory volunteers will visit classes at middle and high schools and talk about their jobs, the excitement of science, and the Open House.

“This is one way we can take science into the schools,” said Otto. “We hope our scientific staff will join us in carrying these messages and bringing awareness and interest to the community in a positive and personal way.”

Otto and his staff need 60 volunteers to visit classrooms. They are invited to choose the day and the school of preference. Sign-ups will be accommodated via the web ( beginning next week, and volunteer training will be provided during the week of September 8-12. Each visiting volunteer will be provided with classroom handouts, cameras for class photos, and a science activity to share.

Open House will be a scientific wonderland for children, beginning with an adventure map that all will receive at the Welcome Tent. If they find all the stamps for their passport, they get a prize. The Family Science Zone features hands-on experiments in bubble-ology, electromagnetism, water and light, and chemistry. A glass blower will demonstrate his craft, and representatives of Chabot Space & Science Center will offer exhibits and projects.

A Career Fair, such as the one held inside a tent at Open House 2000, will provide information on careers in science and job as well internship opportunities at Berkeley Lab.

The Robot Corral at Building 77 will show off mechanical marvels with minds of their own. Also at the Shops, kids can take apart an old computer or other discarded device in the Electronic Petting Zoo, a traditional favorite of Open House visitors. Youngsters can also become “Junior Gene Sleuths” as part of a special Life Sciences program in Building 84, where they can track down some DNA.

“Science Wanderers” in decorated lab coats will randomly address science questions to young visitors and will reward them for correct answers. The youngsters can also visit the Lab’s virtual classrooms in the Technology Learning Center in Perseverance Hall, where computers will be programmed to various Lab-based education sites.

The Lawrence Hall of Science will again stage one of its interactive shows as part of the programs in the Building 50 auditorium.

For the first time this year, Bay Area Girl Scouts will be invited to sign up for a special visit and program. Focused activities will apply to completion of advancement requirements and badges for Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes and Seniors. For more information, contact Valerie Quigley at X7032.

For teachers, the Open House represents a potential supplement to their curricula in science and math. The Building 2-100 conference room will be transformed into an Instructional Materials Center, where visiting teachers will be offered workshops that include a wide variety of handouts, website references, scientific wall posters, and materials from the “Did You Ever Wonder…?” campaign. They will receive guidance on how to use those materials in their classrooms.

In addition, several teachers who have been instrumental in assisting with Berkeley Lab’s education outreach programs will be honored at a noon ceremony on the outdoor stage outside the cafeteria. Lab Director Charles Shank will moderate, and Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean is among those invited to participate.

Not all of the action related to Open House will happen on October 5. For several weeks prior to that day, elementary school students from throughout the Bay Area will be invited to participate in a poster contest based on the “Did You Ever Wonder…?” theme. The entries will be posted in and around Perseverance Hall at Open House.

To volunteer for Career Week at Open House, see starting next week

Currents Skips One Issue For Summer Hiatus

Each August the Currents staff takes a short break to regroup, plan for the next fiscal year, and think of better ways to serve our readers. The paper will skip the last issue in August and resume its normal publication schedule on Sept. 6.

Meanwhile, we plan to keep the lines of communication open via Headlines and Today at Berkeley Lab. If you have any labwide events you would like to announce, contact Monica Friedlander at And as always, we welcome your suggestions and feedback regarding Currents.

High Schoolers Get a Taste of Science

Thanks to support by individual divisions at Berkeley Lab, 26 high school students from all over the Bay Area experienced the joy of engaging in actual scientific research and working with Lab mentors as part of a special program. Photo by Robert Couto
Students and Science.

Washington Report

NSF Gets Big Boost in Senate

It’s only the first step in a budget process that might not conclude until after the November elections, but the National Science Foundation (NSF) got a big push from a Senate Appropriations Committee panel which has written a $91 billion bill covering the 2003 budgets of NSF, NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and dozens of other smaller agencies. Last week, the committee approved a 12 percent increase for NSF, to $5.35 billion, the largest percentage boost for any major agency in its jurisdiction and more than double the 5 percent increase requested by the Bush administration. The legislators also overrode a White House plan to halt work on a mission to the planet Pluto and gave EPA science programs a slight increase. Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Kit Bond (R-MO), chair and ranking member, respectively, of the committee, had promised to put NSF on a 5-year doubling track and appear to be fulfilling their pledge. However, they have also called for the committee to keep a closer eye on NSF’s management of big projects. Receiving the lions’ share of this proposed increase would be the physical sciences, graduate student stipends, a program to help have-not research states, cybersecurity, and research instrumentation.

Administration Sends “Clear Skies” Proposal to Congress

The Bush administration has submitted to Congress a plan it calls “Clear Skies” which is intended to cut power plant emissions by 70 percent “much further, faster, more certainly, and more cost-effectively than current law,” the President said in a statement.

“America has made significant progress over the last 30 years in our quest for cleaner air, and we have learned a lot about what approaches work best,” said Bush when he first announced the Clean Skies initiative this past February. He argued that this proposed legislation will make the Clean Air Act more effective by using the acid rain program and a cap-and-trade sulfur dioxide emissions trading system as its model.

Overall, the bill (H.R. 5266, S. 2815) would combine mandatory caps on emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury with a voluntary program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the greenhouse gas largely responsible for global warming. In the meantime, a rival bill in the Senate (S. 556), which would place a firm cap on carbon dioxide emissions, has been approved by the Environment and Public Works Committee. It does not seem likely, according to analysts, that either bill will be approved in its respective chamber during this legislative session, which is scheduled to end in early October.

Clean Air Technology at Congressional Expo

Berkeley Lab’s Jeff Harris (left) explains the Aeroseal process to Rep. Mark Udall (D-Colo) and David Garman, DOE’s assistant secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, while William Walter of Carrier (right) looks on.

Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) and Carrier Aeroseal, Inc. joined forces recently to show off to Congress the fruits of their public–private partnership: an aerosol-based sealing process that can reduce the energy leakage in home ducts by 20 percent or more.

While munching on Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, members of Congress, their staff, and the general public mingled and viewed a demonstration of Aeroseal and various other exhibits of energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies. The event was held on July 9 in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington D.C.

Developed at Berkeley Lab after years of R&D under the leadership of Mark Modera of EETD, the start-up Aeroseal was founded to commercialize the technology. Carrier Corp. acquired the company and is training its national distributors to offer the energy-saving process to homeowners. The technology could save homeowners up to $300 a year in heating and cooling costs; nationally, savings could add up to billions of dollars a year.

DOE to Cut Yucca Mountain Site Costs by $10 Billion

Margaret S.Y. Chu, director of DOE’s Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, says the department wants to cut the cost of building a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev., by $10 billion from the department’s current Total System Life Cycle Cost estimate of $58 billion.

Speaking at a meeting of the National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) Board on Radioactive Waste Management last week, Chu said she hoped to find cost savings in “very expensive engineering things” such as waste packages and “drip shields” that are to be used to keep water away from the containers.

 “With Congressional approval, we can now turn our sights to the licensing process and development of a transportation system,” Chu said. “This is a new chapter for the Yucca Mountain program.”

Main tunnel inside Yucca Mountain

Chu says DOE will develop a plan for transporting nuclear waste across the country to the Yucca Mountain site in 2003 and submit a license application for the repository in December 2004. Among the priorities, she said, is the development of a “sustained, long-term science and technology program within the Office of Radioactive Waste Management which would increase confidence in the repository’s performance.”

Chu told the NAS representatives she would like to see the science program funded at a level of between $15 million and $30 million (or 4 to 6 percent of her program’s budget) per year.

“Regardless of the budget,” she said, “there will be a science and technology program. I’ll make it happen.”

Chu, who was sworn in to head DOE’s high-level nuclear waste management program in March, holds a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Minnesota and worked more than 20 years at Sandia National Laboratories where, among other assignments, she served as director of their nuclear waste management effort. — Lynn Yarris

Loose Lips in Science?

Loose lips sink ships, the cautionary slogan of World War II, may be coming back. Several members of Congress have filed a resolution criticizing the publication by the journal Science of a paper on poliovirus, and callings on journals, scientists and funding agencies to take more care about openly publishing unclassified research that might help bioterrorists. The resolution also asks federal funding agencies to reconsider how they classify research. The polio study, which was funded by the Department of Defense, was unclassified.

In a separate development, the American Society for Microbiology, which represents 40,000 scientists, sent a letter to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to request a meeting of biomedical publishers to discuss the publication of research that might be co-opted by terrorists. NAS plans to hold the meeting this fall.

Berkeley Lab Currents

Published twice a month by the Communications Department for the employees and retirees of Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Ron Kolb, Communications Department head.

EDITOR: Monica Friedlander, (510) 495-2248,

STAFF WRITERS: Lisa Gonzales, 486-4698; Dan Krotz, 486-4109, Paul Preuss, 486-6249; Lynn Yarris, 486-5375

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Jon Bashor, X5849; Allan Chen, X4210


Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory,
Communications Department, MS 65A
One Cyclotron Road, Berkeley CA 94720
Tel: (510) 486-5771 Fax: (510) 486-6641

Berkeley Lab is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy.

SUV Safety Questioned in Study of “Combined Risk”

By Lynn Yarris

Those who think that driving big is driving safe, or that lightweight, fuel-efficient vehicles are inherently more dangerous than their heavyweight counterparts, need to think again. A Berkeley Lab researcher has teamed with a researcher from the University of Michigan in a unique risk analysis study which shows that, contrary to conventional wisdom, vehicle quality is a much more important safety factor than weight for the drivers of vehicles involved in a crash.

“Most cars are safer than the average sports utility vehicle (SUV), while pickup trucks are much less safe than all other types. Minivans and import luxury cars have the safest records,” states the report, “An Analysis of Traffic Deaths by Vehicle Type and Model,” which was prepared by Tom Wenzel, an energy analyst in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division, and Marc Ross, a professor in Michigan’s Applied Physics Department.

In the ongoing debate over automotive fuel economy, the argument has been made that increasing fuel efficiency will require a decrease in vehicle weight, which in turn will result in a higher rate of traffic fatalities, as lighter-weight vehicles are inherently more unsafe.

To test the validity of this argument, Wenzel and Ross compared the risk of death in traffic accidents based on vehicle type and model. They looked at driver deaths per year per million vehicles sold for model years 1995-1999 using as their data source the annual census of traffic fatalities which is published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Their analysis is among the first to look at “combined risk” which encompasses all the drivers involved in a crash.

The Chevy Suburban was found to be the safest SUV model as determined by a combined risk analysis of traffic fatalities, but not nearly as safe as a Camry or an Accord.

“A shortcoming of many safety analyses has been that only risks to drivers of a given kind of vehicle are evaluated while the risks imposed on others are ignored,” says Wenzel. “We focused on the risk not only to occupants of the vehicle model in question in all types of crashes, but also on the risk to the drivers of other vehicles involved in crashes with the model in question.”

Looking at combined risk is a more accurate means of evaluating a type of vehicle or model for its contribution to overall danger on the highway. By limiting their analysis to recent vehicle models, Wenzel and Ross were able to obtain enough statistics on sales and fatalities to be confident that their calculated risks “reflect the true risk of the vehicle model and not a statistical aberration.”

Wenzel and Ross determined that SUVs are no safer for their drivers than the average midsize or large car and not much safer than many of the most popular compact and subcompact car models. Drivers of pickup trucks are at even greater risks than drivers of SUVs. When the combined risk is considered, SUVs and pickup trucks are revealed to be significantly more dangerous than just about any car.

“The safest SUV, the Suburban, has at least a 40 percent higher combined risk than the three safest midsize and large cars, the Avalon, Camry, and Accord,” the scientists state in their report.

That vehicle quality is a more important safety consideration than weight was evident in the wide range in risks between different subcompact and compact models. The safest small cars, the Volkswagen Jetta and Honda Civic, were shown to be twice as safe as the comparably sized Chevrolet Cavalier, Ford Escort, and Dodge Neon.

“In looking at all vehicles, cars designed by Toyota and Honda consistently are safer, and weigh less, than comparable cars designed by domestic manufacturers,” Wenzel says.

Wenzel and Ross did take into consideration the age and sex of the typical driver of a specific vehicle model, and how that vehicle is normally driven. For example, sports cars, as driven, are extremely risky to their drivers who typically are aggressive young males. For minivans, the least risky of all vehicles, the story is much different.

“They are seldom driven by young males and tend to be driven more carefully than other vehicle types,” says Wenzel. He notes that a portion of the high risk ratings for pickup trucks can be attributed to their use in rural areas where speeds are high and road conditions poor.

However, Wenzel and Ross found no evidence that driver age and sex were responsible for SUVs and pickup trucks garnering higher risk ratings than cars. In the future, they plan to study whether other driver characteristics, such as seatbelt or drug/alcohol use, may explain some of the results of this study.

 “All the evidence in our study shows that vehicles can be, and in fact are being, made lighter, and more fuel efficient, without sacrificing safety,” says Wenzel. “The argument that lowering the weight of cars to achieve high fuel economy has resulted in excess deaths is unfounded.”

Workshop Charts the Future of Nanogeoscience

By Dan Krotz

How does a tiny sulfide particle travel from a Chinese factory to California? And how does it react when it gets there? Scientists don’t know precisely, which is one of many reasons 85 researchers from almost 30 universities, federal agencies, and national labs recently convened at Berkeley Lab.

For three days in mid-June, a room full of chemists, biologists, and geologists mapped what is and isn’t known in a burgeoning field called nanogeoscience. As the name implies, it’s the study of geological processes involving particles no larger than 100 nanometers, meaning in some cases as small as a few atoms across. Such particles play critical roles in carbon sequestration, air pollution, and even the removal of toxins from soil.

But how, and to what extent, remains a mystery. That’s because nanoscale particles often don’t behave like larger solids. A particle’s physical and chemical properties change as it becomes smaller, forcing researchers to use highly sensitive instrumentation, such as transmission electron microscopes and synchrotron-based spectroscopy, to determine how molecule-sized particles contribute to larger-scale phenomena.

And while a small but growing number of scientists probe these poorly understood processes, their work remains largely isolated. Nanogeoscience is a new field, and a researcher who studies how nanoparticles aggregate in soils may not know that other researchers study the analogous process in oceans — which is a principle reason the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) funded the workshop.

“People who study aerosols don’t talk with people who study oceanic particles who don’t talk with people who study soil particles,” says Glenn Waychunas, a scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division and one of the workshop’s co-organizers along with Alexandra Navrotsky of UC Davis. “We need to bring them together.”

In addition to bringing nanogeoscientists under one roof for the first time, the workshop was also tasked with helping federal agencies decide how to best facilitate nanogeoscience research. Last year, the NSF highlighted nanoscience as a key research goal over the next five years, but so far nanogeoscientists haven’t shared the funding initiatives enjoyed by materials scientists and chemists. Hoping to even this imbalance, the attendees collated important, underfunded research opportunities into a report that will be presented to several federal agencies later this year.

To further shepherd the growth of nanogeoscience research, Waychunas and colleagues Jillian Banfield, Hoi-Ying Holman, and Paul Alivisatos are planning a $3 million nanogeoscience program that will encompass Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley. The program will complement the lab’s Molecular Foun-dry, a national user facility opening in 2006 that will allow researchers to build and test nanoscale devices. And to foster improved communication between nanogeoscientists everywhere, Waychunas envisions a virtual center that electronically links several institutions that conduct innovative research.

Among these inquiries is learning how oceans capture atmospheric carbon, a complex process that plays a key role in our understanding of climate change. Seawater teems with tiny particles that contain nanoscale iron molecules. And iron is crucial in regulating phytoplankton growth, which, in turn, influences the exchange of carbon dioxide between the ocean and atmosphere. So understanding how phytoplankton acquires and uses iron will also help explain how oceans capture atmospheric carbon. But researchers don’t know where these recently observed nanoscale iron molecules originate, their importance, and how or if organisms use them.

“There is a black hole,” says Waychunas. “Oceanographers generally study particles that measure 0.2 microns and larger, which means a lot of nanoscale particles are not examined, particularly with respect to formation mechanisms.”

On land, researchers study how nanosized minerals capture toxins such as arsenic, copper, and lead from the soil. Facilitating this process, called soil remediation, is a tricky business. Some toxins adhere weakly to particles through electrostatic forces while others precipitate onto a particle’s surface, forming chemical bonds that are more difficult to undo. Even more troublesome is aggregation, in which the precipitated toxin is sandwiched between the grains of a particle. As Waychunas explains, learning how these processes work on the nanoscale could greatly improve the effectiveness of remediation efforts.

Another promising soil remediation strategy links nanogeoscience with biomimetics, an equally new field in which researchers design substances that mimic biological processes. For example, researchers are interested in processes in which microbes produce minerals that are highly reactive and therefore ideal components of a toxic uptake system.

Taking this a step further, they hope to manipulate microbes into producing nanosized minerals of specific sizes and shapes that most efficiently bind with toxins.

Other research explores the changing characteristics of particles as they become smaller. At the nanoscale, for example, there are many more atoms associated with the surface of a particle than the interior. This intrigues researchers like Waychunas, because most chemical reactions occur on the surface of minerals, large and small. But what’s true for a fist-sized chunk of quartz doesn’t necessarily translate to a particle only a few molecules across. At this minute size, surface properties can change, meaning the nature of these all-important surface reactions also changes.

The list continues. Recent research suggests that some airborne nanoparticles are so small they zing through the upper atmosphere for miles without bumping into other particles. How does this affect the spread of air pollution? And other researchers hope to study the nanogeoscience of Martian soil, while still others want to develop computer simulations that model nanogeochemical processes such as aggregation and sorption.

Slowly, one study at a time, they’re unveiling the role of nanoscale oxide, sulfide, phosphate and silicate particles in global phenomena.

“We need to study the unusual properties of natural materials at the nanoscale,” Waychunas says. “And we need to explore how these properties relate to carbon sequestration, plant nutrient transfer, toxic agent entrapment, and many other geochemical cycles.”

Particle Physics Brochure Explores Multiple Dimensions

New Dimensions in Particle Physics: Exploring the Nature of Our Universe is a colorful new brochure intended to introduce the particle physics enterprise to students and other members of the public.

Sponsored by the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation and published under the auspices of UC’s Cryogenic Dark Matter Search Group, the brochure was developed by a committee led by Michael Barnett of Berkeley Lab’s Physics Division. Copies will be available to schools and at public events, including the Lab’s Open House on Oct. 5, and a web version will be available as well. Copies will be distributed to dozens of universities where particle physics is taught.

The attractive cover painting by brochure designer Sharon Constant of Visible Ink Design was inspired by a famous woodcut (purportedly from 16th century Germany, actually Art Nouveau) showing a medieval scholar sticking his head through the sky into outer space. Constant’s updated version has a child reaching into extra dimensions.

The committee chose the theme of hidden dimensions – especially as applied to studies of gravity — as an example of the fascinating, interrelated questions facing particle physics in the 21st century, recognizing that no short brochure could have covered the entire field.

Besides Barnett and Constant, developers included Robert Cahn, Andria Erzberger, Lincoln Sanders (who drew clever illustrations for the “storyboard”), Hitoshi Murayama, and Tony Spadafora of the Physics Division, Paul Preuss of the Communications Department, and Jim Wells of UC Davis, now at the University of Michigan. Nima Arkani-Hamed was consulted on extra dimensions. — Paul Preuss

High School Students Come Face to Face with Science

Program supported through division funding

By Pam Reynolds

A crowd of students, mentors, dignitaries and families crowded the Building 50 auditorium last Friday to watch 26 high school students present the results of their summer research at Berkeley Lab. This was the third and best attended year of the High School Student Research Participation Program.

The students, juniors and seniors from local high schools, were paired with staff mentors for six weeks of real-world work experience. The results, displayed in each student’s PowerPoint presentation, were beyond what even a group of demanding Lab scientists expected. A storm of applause greeted each student as they stepped off the stage

“She’s only 16!” whispered one proud mentor to a colleague, after Janet Sheung of San Mateo High School finished explaining her work on relativistic behavior of near-light speed muon particles.

Support and funding for the high school students came from the divisions they worked for, not from the Department of Energy, as is the case with undergraduate intern programs.

“This year we had a commitment from every division,” said Rollie Otto, head of the Center for Science and Engineering Education. “We hope it continues, because we have so many bright students in the community who would benefit from coming to the Lab.”

The students worked on projects ranging from building websites and databases, to designing automated control software for X-ray protein crystallography, to determining gene expression in breast cancer cells, to growing nanowires. Oliver Monson, recent graduate of Vallejo High School, got to go on a two-day ocean cruise with his mentor, oceanographer Jim Bishop, to test their inorganic matter sensor.

Jonah VanBourg of Berkeley High School explains his research on growing nanowires in the Advanced Laser Technologies Laboratory.

“We have some really talented students here,” said Gwen Espino, program director and coordinator. “You just give them what they need to do and they do it.”

The program grew out of a 1999 visit by about one hundred Richmond High School students who came to the Lab for a tour and presentation. Looking around that day, Espino, a Richmond High School counselor, realized what an excellent opportunity the Lab presented for her students. The new program started out in 2000 with 11 Richmond High students who were paired with mentor scientists. The summer was a resounding success.

“It was such a good program,” said Espino. “The Lab staff was so pleased, they wanted to make it ongoing.”

The effort expanded the next year to include more students, and students from other local high schools. This year. the program, which used to be publicized through outreach to local science teachers, was posted on the Center for Science and Engineering Education website. As result it drew a record 170 applicants for the 26 positions available. Participants came from as far away as Vallejo and San Mateo, as well as nearby Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond.

“I think we really are capturing some of the best young minds for science,” said Otto, “by bringing them to the Lab and showing them that they can have exciting careers.”

Students who wish to participate must apply by April each year by submitting a resume and transcript. Program coordinators and department heads try to find an assignment that matches the students’ interests, and strive to accept students from underserved and minority areas, as well as those with strong backgrounds in math and science.

The program has gone so well this summer that many of the participants were asked by their mentors to stay on an extra month, or come back in the fall to continue their work.

The best endorsements of all are those of the students themselves.

“All of my time here was absolutely invaluable,” said Garrett Croker, of Hogan High School in Vallejo. “I wouldn’t replace this experience with anything.”

Pam Reynolds is an intern in the Lab’s Communications Department

QuarkNet Brings Latest Advances in Particle
Physics to High School Classrooms

By Dan Krotz

For three weeks this summer, 14 Bay Area high school physics teachers learned about neutrino oscillations, toured state-of-the-art facilities such as the Advanced Light Source, and watched as Lab physicists developed experiments that probe the fundamental particles of the universe.

This fall, they’ll bring this experience to the classroom, providing their students with real world examples of how scientists put textbook theories to work. The teachers owe their newfound knowledge to QuarkNet, a national program funded by the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy. It’s designed to expose high school science teachers to the latest developments in particle physics and astrophysics.

“We try to link experimental physics with what is taught in the classroom,” says Stewart Loken, Berkeley Lab’s QuarkNet coordinator and the deputy head of Berkeley Lab’s physics division. He, along with Helmuth Spieler, also of the physics division, facilitated the Lab’s participation in the program.

“Teachers can then go back to the classroom and place textbook lessons in a modern context.”

Last year, the first year Berkeley Lab hosted teachers from the QuarkNet program, three teachers joined Berkeley Lab’s ATLAS group to learn about and work on the international collaborative experiment. These teachers helped plan this year’s program, which attracted 11 new teachers and ran from June 26 to July 12.

The teachers participated in an intensive workshop that combined lectures, Lab activities, and tours that spanned a wide range of topics, from radiation sensors to microelectronics to mechanics.

“We wanted to highlight recent advances in physics — developments their students will read on the front page of newspapers and in Scientific American,” Loken says, adding that he was impressed with the caliber of teachers who attended the workshop.

“It was really a stunning group of teachers. They attended lectures and asked very probing questions. And all of the physicists at the Lab were very impressed with the teachers’ vitality and interest level.”

Based on the program’s success, Loken plans to convene two weekend seminars this year, as well as hold another workshop next summer.

Contemporary Physics Education Project Workshop

For the first time in its 15-year history, the Contemporary Physics Education Project (CPEP) will hold its annual national meeting at Berkeley Lab on Saturday, Aug. 17.

The project is known for creating wall charts — the “Fundamental Particles and Interactions Chart,” the “Nuclear Science Chart,” and the “Plasma Physics/ Fusion Chart” — and other educational materials.

A non-profit group of about 40 teachers, other educators, and physicists, CPEP also holds workshops for teachers (see

The all-day event will be held in Perseverance Hall.

Bulletin Board

Employee Activities Association Events

Last Call for Great America Family Day

Lab employees and their families are invited to enjoy a family day and picnic at Paramount’s Great America Tomorrow, Aug. 10 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets may still be purchased by calling Lisa Cordova today at X5521. The cost is $28, which covers event entrance, parking, and food (all-you-can-eat barbecued chicken, chili beans, pasta salad, soda, and ice cream). The picnic area will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with picnic meal service from 12 to 1 p.m.

Oakland A’s Game

Tickets are now available for the Oakland A’s vs the Texas Rangers on Friday, Sept. 20 at 7:05 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person (compared to the regular price of $22), and may be purchased in the cafeteria lobby on Wednesdays during the lunch hours. Ticket sales will be discontinued two weeks prior to the game.

For more information or to make other purchasing arrangements, contact Lisa Cordova at X5521. You may also send her a check (payable to UC Regents) to MS46-125.

Scientists of the Future Explore Water, Dirt and Air

Berkeley Lab science campers tried their hands at building a physical model of ground water last week during one of the sessions of the Summer Exploration Camp. Entitled "Water, Dirt, and Air," the session was led by Jil Geller of the Earth Sciences Division.

The model allowed children to look at how fast water moves and consider what would happen in the event of contamination, including means to to clean up the water supply.

Two-Day Ergonomics Fair

Berkeley Lab will hold its eigth annual Ergonomics Fair on Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 20- 21 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This will be the first time this event is held outdoors — in the patio area outside the cafeteria.

Lab employees are invited to visit with vendors to learn about the latest in ergonomics furniture, accessories, and other tools that can help minimize the chance of employees developing musculoskeletal disorders in the office, laboratory and shop environments. Licensed massage therapists will also be on to offer free 10-minute stress reduction chair massages. For more information contact Jeffrey Chung at X5818.

Java Wave Making the Rounds

The much-awaited new coffee service is now making regular stops at Berkeley Lab, dispensing gourmet coffee drinks and various snacks. Below is the current schedule of the Java truck:

Building 69: 7 – 7:45 a.m.
Building 65: 8 – 8:30 a.m.
Building 90: 8:45 – 9:45 a.m.
Building 85: 10 – 11 a.m.
Building 69: 11:45 – 12:15 p.m.
Building 90: 12:30 – 1 p.m.
Building 85: 1:15 – 1:45 p.m.

Fidelity Offers Consultations, Workshops

Since 1987 UC has partnered with Fidelity Investments — America’s largest mutual fund company — to provide employees with additional investment options in their DCP and 403b plans.

In addition to providing investment options as part of UC’s retirement savings plans, Fidelity also offers employees informational workshops and one-on-one consultations. A Fidelity investments retirement counselor, Meghan Quinn Brucker, will be onsite every month to help individuals prepare for their retirement. Brucker has worked with Lab employees since April 2000. To schedule a free consultation call Fidelity at (800) 642-7131.


Creating an Investment Strateg
Sept. 11, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Perseverance Hall

The workshop is designed for employees who are currently participating in their workplace savings plan and plan to retire in 10 years or more. The workshop will help participants assess their asset allocation and future savings needs and will emphasize the importance of reviewing and rebalancing portfolios on a regular basis.

Retirement in View
October 9, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Perseverance Hall

This workshop is for pre-retirees who are less than five years from retirement. The presentation reviews retirement lifestyle and financial considerations. Participants will work through retirement expenses, income sources, and strategies to help close existing gaps.

Computer Security Course on Aug. 21

A new half-day computer protection course entitled “Responding to Incidents” will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, Aug. 21 in Building 70A-3377. The instructors will be Gene Schultz and Jim Mellander of the Computer Protection Program in the Information Technologies and Services Division. They will discuss common security-related incidents and procedures to follow should your system be attacked. Space is limited and enrollment is available on a first-come, first-served basis. To sign up visit the Employee Self Service website at

Holiday Craft Fair Planning Meeting

A planning meeting for people interested in participating in this year's Craft Fair will be held on Friday, Aug. 16 at 12:10 p.m. in Perseverance Hall. Topics to be discussed will include timing of the event and possible changes to the format. If you would like participate in the fair or the planning process but cannot attend the meeting, pcontact Carol Backhus at

Undergraduate Student Poster Session

The results of undergraduate students’ summer’s research will be on display during the annual student research poster session, to be held at the Lab cafeteria next Tuesday, Aug. 13 from 3 to 5 p.m.

Seventy-five students will present the results of their summer internships. Everyone is invited to attend. Refreshments will be served.


General Interest

AUGUST 13, Tuesday

Starts at 8 a.m., Bldg. 50 auditorium

3 – 5 p.m., cafeteria

AUGUST 15, Thursday

7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., cafeteria parking lot

AUGUST 20, Tuesday

11 a.m. – 2 p.m., cafeteria deck

AUGUST 21, Wednesday

9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Bldg. 70A-3377

11 a.m. – 2 p.m., cafeteria deck

AUGUST 28, Thursday

7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., cafeteria parking lot

Send us your announcements

Please e-mail announcements for the General Calendar and the Bulletin Board page to Items for the Seminar & Lectures calendar may be mailed to currents_ calendar@ You may also fax items to X6641. The deadline for the Sept. 6 issue is 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30.

Seminars & Lectures

AUGUST 20, Tuesday

Bayes vs. Frequentism: the Return of an Old Controversy
Speaker: Louis Lyons, Oxford
4:00 p.m., Building 50A, Room 5132

AUGUST 23, Friday

The ALS Superbend Project: High Energy Photons from a Low Energy Light Source
Speaker: David Robin, Accelerator & Fusion Research
10:30 a.m., Building 71, Room 264 (Albert Ghiorso Conference Room)
Refreshments at 10:20 a.m.

AUGUST 30, Friday

Near-field Mechanical Response of Nuclear Waste Repositories
Speaker: Charles Fairhurst, University of Minnesota
1:00 p.m., Building 50 auditorium

EH&S Classes – August 2002






EHS 10

Introduction to ES&H at LBNL*

8:00 – 10:15

Bldg. 50-Aud


EHS 256


1:30 – 3:00

Bldg. 51-201


EHS 123

Adult Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation

8:30 – 12:00

Bldg. 48-109


EHS 275

Confined Space Hazards

8:30 – 11:00

Bldg. 51-201


EHS 274

Confined Space-Retraining

11:00 – 12:00

Bldg. 51-201


EHS 116

First Aid

1:00 – 4:30

Bldg. 48-109


EHS 330

Lead Hazards Awareness

1:30 – 2:30

Bldg. 51-201


EHS 154

Building Emergency Team Training

9:00 – 11:00

Bldg. 48-109


EHS 260

Basic Electric Hazard Awareness

10:00 – 11:30

Bldg. 51-201


EHS 345

Chemical Hygiene for Facilities

10:00 – 12:00

Bldg. 51-201


EHS 278

Ladder Safety

9:00 – 10:00

Bldg. 51-201


EHS 283

Ultra Violet User Safety

10:30 – 11:30

Bldg. 51-201


EHS 135

Earthquake/Wildland Fire Safety

10:30 – 11:30

Bldg. 48-109


EHS 280

Laser Safety

1:00 – 4:00

Bldg. 51-201


EHS 530

Fire Extinguisher

10:00 – 11:30

Bldg. 48-109


EHS 530

Fire Extinguisher

1:00 – 2:30

Bldg. 48-109


EHS 400

Radiation Protection-Fundamentals

9:00 – 12:00

Bldg. 51-201


EHS 60

Ergonomics for Computer Users

1:00 – 2:30

Bldg. 51-201


EHS 432

Radiation Protection-Lab Safety

8:00 – 12:30

Bldg. 51-201


EHS 604

Hazardous Waste Generator

9:30 – 11:00

Bldg. 51-201


EHS 622

Radioactive & Mixed Waste

11:00 – 12:00

Bldg. 51-201


EHS 735/ 738/739

Biosafety/Bloodborne Pathogen

1:30 – 2:45

Bldg. 51-201


EHS 20

ES&H for Supervisors

9:00 – 11:00

Bldg. 51-201


EHS 10

Introduction to ES&H at LBNL

1:00 – 3:00

Bldg. 51-201

* Includes EHS 392/405, followed by the orientation. Please promptly for sign-in.

To enroll, contact Valarie Espinoza at or enroll via the web at Preregistration is required for all courses except EHS 10. For a full, updated schedule, see

Lab to Host IBM Scientific Computing
Users Group Meeting

August 19–23

Berkeley Lab and NERSC will host the sixth meeting of the IBM System Scientific Computing User Group (ScicomP) the week of Aug. 19-23. The event is combined with the summer meeting of SP-XXL, a similar group interested in IBM SP system management.

The ScicomP meeting series enables computational scientists and engineers to learn about tools and techniques for developing applications that achieve maximum performance and scalability on IBM system.

For more information see ScicomP6/.

Tech Transfer Update

Technology Transfer Department
Offers Training Courses

Registration deadline: August 30

The Technology Transfer Department and National Technology Transfer Center (NTTC) are cohosting training in technology assessment and marketing for technology managers, scientists and engineers, technology commercialization specialists, and technology marketers. All those interested to learn more about these fields are invited to attend.

The one-and-a-half day courses will be held in Building 90, Room 1099 on the following dates:

  • Technology Assessment: Sept. 23 – 24
  • Technology Marketing: Sept. 24 – 25

The cost per participant (including lunch and refreshments) is $435 for Technology Assessment, $500 for Technology Marketing, and $905 for both courses.

For more information about the courses, see For registration information call Shanshan Taylor at X5366 by Aug. 30.

Flea Market

Autos / Supplies

‘00 HONDA ACCORD EX V6 coupe, grn/tan leather, at, 30K mi, 6 yr/100K mi ext wrnty, $18,750, Steve, X6793, 763-0639

‘97 JEEP WRANGLER, runs great, am/fm/cass, dual airbags, dk bl,5 spd, 4 cyl, $6,100/ob, Vill, (650) 245-5277

‘96 SUZUKI SIDEKICK, 41K mi, 2 dr/2 wd, at, cute, runs great, hard & soft top incl, $5,200/bo, lsilvers@, 643-2816

‘96 HONDA ODYSSEY LX, orig owner, ac, all pwr, metallic beige w/ dk cream upholstery, well maint, 6 capt’s seats, 97K mi, $10,500/bo, Janice X4943

‘95 BMW 318 ti, 60k mi, 2 dr htcbk, sunrf, ac, 5 spd, new tires, alloy whls, dealer svc recs, exc cond, $10,500, Worley, 527-3869

‘93 SAAB 9000CSE, 115K mi, 5 spd, loaded, leather int, very clean, $5,950, Vlad, X2912, 849-1579

‘82 FORD XLT CLUB wagon van, V8, 5 psngr, rec eng overhaul & smog, at, ac, $2,800, Worley, 527-3869


BERKELEY HILLS, architect-designed older home near Tilden Park, 2 bdrm/ 1 bth, quiet, 5 min drive to Lab/10 min to UC, nr pub trans, all glass walls opens to sunny, priv garden, ki-tchen/liv/din rm, fp, hardwd flrs, fridge, built-in micro, dw, w/d, partly furn option, cats ok, $2,000/ mo, 1st/last/$1,000 dep, Kathie, X5543, 527-0612

BERKELEY room for rent, no kitchen privil, walk to UCB/pub trans, $425/mo, Emma, 841-3117

BERKELEY, unfurn 2 bdrm 1 bth apt, nr Dwight/MLK, 1 off-str pkg space, lndry rm, patio, no pets, $1,580/ mo, avail now for 1 yr lease or sublet for Aug, rent/dep neg for sublet, Leilah, X6532, 883-0758,

EL CERRITO, 1 bdrm apt w/ bay view, quiet area, nr pub trans, kitchen, liv rm, lndry, avail now, $950/mo + $1,250 dep, 232-3414,

EL CERRITO, furn room for gentleman student/ visit scholar, nr pub trans/ shop/tennis, off-str pkg, quiet res area, no smkg/ pets, $600/mo + Internet fee, $650 dep, internet/cable/priv phone line, w&d,

LAFAYETTE cottage/studio, 600 sf, furn, pkg, priv entry, no smkg/pets, $925/ mo incl util, George, (925) 943-2179

MORAGA, house for rent, 3 bdrm/2 bth, liv/dining rm, fp, hardwd flrs, lge yrd, quiet, nr best schools, $2,500/mo, Xinli, (925) 377-0736, xlyang2002@

NORTH BERKELEY B&B for vis scholars, $750/2 wks, $850/mo, avail immed for 2 wks to 8 mos, 1 person/rm only, 2 rms in house; 1 garden cottage, breakfast daily, bike avail, nr Lab, pub trans, Helen, 527-3252

NORTH BERKELEY sm detached studio, not in-law, priv ent, filtered view, priv bth/kitchenette, may be furn w/ futon, no smkg/ pets, w&d, 1 person only, $750/mo incl util, craig@

NORTH BERKELEY, furn lge sunny 1 bdrm apt, perfect for sabbatical, Victorian complex, walk to campus/shuttle, many amenities, all comfort, priv garden, gated carport, avail now, Geoffrey, gfchew@, 848-1830

ROCKRIDGE AREA, room in priv house, $600, walk dist to College Ave, BART, Lab shuttle, 655-2534

SAN FRANCISCO, Duboce Triangle/Castro, huge 2 bdrm furn apt, nr BART/ MUNI & park, sunny area, avail 9/7-10/3, very flex, $1,800 stay obo, Christie/ Zach, (415) 252-5658,, X5137

SOUTH BERKELEY, rental avail 9/1 for 8 mos, 2 bdrm house, totally remod lge kitchen, garden, walk to campus/LBNL bus, nr major shop, $2,000/mo,

SOUTH BERKELEY, 2 sunny rooms avail now: $700 & $650/mo, adrescher@ , Anushka, 486-8153

SOUTH BERKELEY, sunny room avail now, House of International Scholars, room B, $670/mo,

Housing Wanted

LBNL RA seeks 1 bdrm apt in Berkeley/No Oak, Steve X6966

LBNL STAFFER, mature female seeks 1 bdrm apt or rm, pref Oak, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond, Deborah, 222-7383, X7544


18' SEA RAY, 165 hp I/O merc fish finder, life jackets, air boom for wake boarding, 2 spare props, very gd cond, $4,850, Frank, X4552, (707) 745-1436 aft 4:30 pm (REPEAT)

APRICA BABY STROLLER, reverse handle/ajust ht, full 170 ∞ recl seat, stands when folded, wht/navy bl, good cond, w/ manuals, $50, Alex, X2290

BASKETBALL RIM/backboard, $25, Tom, X7387

BIKE & SKI RACK with locks, Thule, ’95 model for small car, $100; bed frame, no matt, dbl, lt color hardwd, $80; fitness machines, AB-Doer, $20; bun/thigh mach, $35, Worley, 527-3869

HAMILTON BEACH electric stand mixer, 1940s vintage, w/ swivel bowl control, incl 2 orig bowls, 1 lg/ 1sm, works fine, $25, Kathy,

LANCE 11.5' cab over camper, fully self contained, fridge/frzr, shower/ toilet, $2,500, Frank, X4552, (707) 745-1436

PROFLEX MTN BIKE, 14" frame, fits 4'10"-5'5" pilot, world cup race frame, XT equip, metallic blue, solid alum swing arm, full susp, $450; whiet water raft, 10', $125, Bob, (925) 432-2383, 520-1369

OAK 6-DRWR chest, $50; oak 2-drwr bedside chest, $20; teal upholstered easy chair, $40; oak coffee table, $25; rainbow hypoallergenic vac cleaner, $300; Scott hand lawn mower, $30, Rosemary, X2426, (925) 229-4275

TREK 19" women's 12-spd bike, $150; weight bench & free weights, $125/bo; dw, $50; MGA 23" color TV w/ rabbit ears, $125; AIWA dubbing tape deck, $25; white fridge, $75; 60s style leather/chrome chair, $25; also toaster, blender, coff mkr, thermos, teapot, Susan: X5437, SAberg@

WORK TABLE/DESK, Mission style, 58"x30", $250/ bo; oval din table, extends 72"x45", +5 chrs, $120/bo, Duo, X6878, 528-3408


EAST COAST vacation rental, Friendship, ME, 2 bdrm/2 bth, 9 acres overlooking w/ 900’ frontage, tidal pond runs into Meduncook River, fully equipped, central heat, fireplce, dw, mw, cable/ VCR, w&d, sauna, sleeps 4 comfortably, no smkg, avail 8/12-9/5, $1,800,, Jennifer X6186, 527-2669, JAMcWilliams@


DOUBLE PEDESTAL DESK, solid wood, cherry-colored, very gd cond, p/up in Orinda, Janice X4943

GUINEA PIG, blk & white, 4-mo-old to good home, shavings & food incl, no cage, Janice, X4943

SOFABED w/ foldout queen matt, upholst chair, you p/up, Steve, X5064, 655-8379

Flea Market Policy

Ads are accepted only from LBNL employees, retirees, and onsite DOE personnel. Only items of your own personal property may be offered for sale.

Submissions must include name, affiliation, extension, and home phone number. Ads must be submitted in writing via e-mail (, fax (X6641), or delivered/mailed to Bldg. 65B.

Ads run one issue only unless resubmitted, and are repeated only as space permits. They may not be retracted once submitted for publication.

The deadline for the Sept. 6, 2002 issue is Thursday, Aug. 29.