|January 12, 2001|
Lab Projects Win Major Energy Awards
By Jeffery Kahn
Like a log in a hearth, Berkeley Lab is lodged within a hillside landscape that repeatedly has been overrun by conflagration. Diablo wind-driven wildland fires burned sections of the East Bay Hills in 1923, 1931, 1933, 1937, 1940, 1946, 1955, 1960, 1961, 1968, 1970, 1980, and 1991.
A decade ago, 25 people died, 3,403 structures were destroyed, and $1.5 billion’s worth of property was vaporized. Only by whim of the wind did the Laboratory escape the 1991 firestorm.
Since then, a little noticed yet intense battle has been waged here to make sure this laboratory survives the next fire and avert its flash metamorphosis into a fire-gutted ruin.
Says Lab emergency manager Don Bell, "What we have done here in the last nine years is unbelievable. It is the difference between night and day."
Adds Rich McClure, the Facilities Department planner who has spearheaded the effort, "One day there will be another fire. There is no question about it. The vegetation will burn. The question is whether it will take out buildings and cost lives. Six years into our project, I can say that wildland fire no longer can cause major damage here, that most of the Lab can survive a wildland fire. And in two years, when the initial hazard reduction effort is completed, we anticipate that the full Lab can survive a fire."
To survive the worst inferno that nature can throw at us, the Lab has deployed an intricately entwined array of defenses: class A roofs, the most fire retardant roofing available, and fire sprinklers installed in all buildings. Two water storage tanks have been added onsite with a third in the works, and water can be pumped by backup electrical generators even if the electrical and water supply to the Lab is shut off. And, of course, the Lab has its own onsite fire department.
Despite all these measures, however, a firestorm would still overrun the Laboratory, transforming it to smoky memory, were it not for an intensive, difficult, and unending vegetation modification effort. Guided by sophisticated computer models, this project shields the Lab against the next firestorm.
To recall the intensity of this threat, consider the observations of a San Francisco firefighter who helped stop the 1991 fire in a stand made behind the Claremont Hotel. "Rising and erratic fire-driven winds in excess of 65 mph preheated structures and foliage, and temperatures approached 2,000 degrees F. Large homes and large trees exploded in flame, and they would then generate firebrands (airborne embers) which were picked up by the fierce, hot winds, which in turn ignited other structures and trees, and soon they too would explode. In some places aluminum engine blocks and parts of burning automobiles melted and ran into the gutter."
With a wind-driven fire likely to attack the Lab from the wildlands to the east or northeast, vegetation management is the foundation of the Lab’s defenses. Reducing fuel loads on an extensive, wooded site is a tough and tiresome undertaking — so daunting that many large institutional landowners in the East Bay Hills have barely begun such an effort. But here at the Lab, the fuel reduction effort was dramatically intensified six years ago, has been systematic and sustained, and is now within two years of completion. After that, vegetation management enters into a perpetual maintenance mode.
Many employees have contributed to the effort, all under the leadership of Deputy Director Klaus Berkner. Among those critical to the success of this effort are Don Bell, Tony Yuen, the Lab’s fire marshall, Fire Chief Stacy Cox, and Bob Berninzoni, who supervises the Lab landscaping staff and who has administered the contracts for tree cutting and the goat herds employed to graze and reduce fuel.
Rich McClure is the Lab’s point man for vegetation management. Any homeowner who has ever contemplated a serious effort to manicure their landscaping to mitigate the threat of fire has an inkling of the magnitude of the mission he has undertaken. Perhaps it’s McClure’s temperament — unassuming, patient, persistent, and resolute — that has made him a model manager of the Lab’s sustained vegetation management effort. But that would overlook his expert knowledge of fire ecology.
A decade ago, says McClure, the effort to protect the Lab from fire relied on firebreaks at the perimeter of the Lab. Since that time, computer modeling has shown that this defense would be a catastrophic failure.
"We modeled using the extreme 1991 firestorm conditions: vegetation is desiccated, high temperatures, strong winds, and low relative humidity. This," said McClure, "is the worst-case scenario. What we learned — both from the 1991 fire and the modeling — is that our existing perimeter firebreaks were not sufficient. The flame front from a firestorm coming at us from the east would be up to 60 feet high and would generate enough heat and wind to overrun the site."
Even a suicidal stand to stop this wall of flames would not have prevented the Lab’s destruction due to the level of fuel throughout the site
"The Laboratory manages the entire site under the assumption that in a firestorm, thousands of firebrands will descend upon the Laboratory," says McClure. "These firebrands will ignite vegetation across the site and fire will consume the vegetation around individual buildings in less than 10 minutes. But because of our vegetation management effort, these fires will be low-temperature and low-flame. This is the keystone of our defenses: we have reduced fuel levels so that these fires cannot penetrate and ignite the buildings."
Throughout the landscape, the fire characteristics of the site have been evaluated. Where the risks are excessive, the Laboratory has modified native plant communities along the spectrum of the natural succession. The goal is to retard and to accelerate successional forces in selective areas so that fire risks are effectively managed using natural plant communities.
Six years into this complex effort, the Lab has expended a very modest $1.1 million, with $600,000 of remaining corrective vegetative work to be done over the next two years. This represents about three-tenths of one percent of the value of just the Lab’s buildings (not counting what’s inside). After this initial work is completed, the annual vegetation management bill to insure the future existence of the Lab will be approximately $100,000.
At the Lab’s flanks, additional firebreaks and enhancement of existing breaks have been engineered using computer models. Within these firebreaks and within selected wooded areas throughout the site, trees have been felled or thinned and had their lower limbs removed.
"You manage in a way to stop an incoming crown fire. You bring it down to the ground," said McClure. "Before, we would have had 60-foot flames burning uphill toward the Laboratory firehouse. Now, with the breaks and vegetation management, we would get three-to-five-foot flames."
Fifty acres of the Lab had been overgrown with French broom, a highly flammable exotic brush. Now, all of the French broom is gone. Every year, a crew comes in and removes any regrowth, a job that must be continued in perpetuity. But every year the job becomes easier.
To sustain the fire-safe landscape that has been created by this project, the principles are relatively simple, says McClure. "Grasses we cut. Bushes or brush we thin. Trees we limb up. The end result is a wooded, park-like setting for a complex of buildings that is able to survive a wildland fire."
Computer modeling consistently indicated that the eucalyptus trees above Bldg. 74 on the Lab’s critical eastern flank would shower the Lab and Berkeley neighborhoods with firebrands.
Now, says McClure, those trees are gone and there is not going to be a storm of firebrands streaming out of the Lab into neighboring residential areas.
Bell spelled out the benefit to the community: "Because the Lab is here, the neighboring community is safer for it. If a fire ignites to the east of the Lab under Diablo wind conditions, then that fire could travel through the Lab to burn into downtown Berkeley. Because of our fire management effort, the fire would not have fuel to continue. There is so little fuel here, the fire would be extinguished before reaching the city."
The Laboratory cannot escape its environment. Surrounded by the wildlands of Tilden Park, Strawberry and Claremont canyons, its spectacular hillside location is a mixed blessing. Thirteen times in the 20th century, Diablo winds ignited the East Bay Hills, and one day, fire will ignite upwind of the Laboratory once again.
"We know there are going to be spot fires all over Lab," said McClure. "Even if we can’t get them all out right away, if we sustain the ongoing effort, we should not lose any buildings. We should not suffer major damage.
Four energy-efficiency projects conducted by scientists in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division were honored last month with the prestigious Energy@23 awards, chosen by a Department of Energy citizen judges panel from among DOE’s Energy 100 list, which already includes 12 Berkeley Lab projects.
Honoring the department’s best scientific and technological accomplishments since the awards’ origin in 1977, the Energy@23 technologies were selected based on "demonstrated benefits to the American public, a contribution to U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace, and the potential for significant future growth." Many of these have already saved consumers billions of dollars in energy costs and have the potential to save much more as their market penetration increases.
"These awards speak to the tremendous influence that Berkeley Lab researchers have had on our society in the area of energy and the environment," said Laboratory Director Charles V. Shank. "They also illustrate in tangible ways how our national laboratories make a difference in all of our lives."
The citizen’s panel consisted of experts from private industry, academia and the non-profit sector.
Berkeley Lab’s four Energy@ 23 honorees are:
Said EETD Director Mark Levine, "We are deeply honored that the judges have chosen to recognize our work in energy efficiency, environmental research and air quality. We are continuing to conduct high-risk, high-payoff research in a number of new areas such as information technology, commercial building design, and electric grid reliability that will benefit American consumers with lower energy costs, a cleaner environment, more productive workplaces, and improved energy security."
The other eight Berkeley Lab projects on the Energy 100 list are: DOE-2: Energy and Cost-Calculation Software, which estimates a proposed building’s energy consumption and environmental conditions; a study on Residential Radon Entry and Mitigation; the Carbon Monoxide Dosimeter, a lightweight device that accurately measures exposure to carbon monoxide; the safe, energy-efficient tor-chiere lighting fixture, an alternative to halogen torchieres; the Diesel Particle Scatterometer, an instrument to monitor diesel particulates and air quality and guide engine designers to minimize pollution; the Efficient Low-Emissions Burner for Heating and Power, a simple, lightweight, low-emissions technology that can be used both by small domestic water heaters and industrial boilers and gas turbines; a Lab-private sector collaboration on reducing urban heat islands to save electricity and reduce smog through cool roofs and shade trees; and the Home Energy Saver, the first web-based energy tool for consumers (homeenergysaver.lbl.gov), which calculates users’ average energy bills and recommends improvements.
Spencer Abraham, 48, a one-term Republican senator from Michigan who lost his bid for reelection this past November, has been nominated by President-elect George W. Bush to be the next Secretary of Energy.
Prior to his six years in the Senate, Abraham served as Republican party chair in the State of Michigan and deputy chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle.
As a senator, Abraham cosponsored legislation to abolish the Department of Energy. The Bush transition team has told reporters that Abraham no longer holds this view in light of the current energy challenges facing the country.
Abraham also showed interest just this fall in increasing funds for the DOE’s Office of Science, from which much of Berkeley Lab’s budget originates.
In accepting the nomination, he described himself as "proud and eager" to take up the challenge of addressing the nation’s energy needs. "Many significant Energy Department-related issues face us at this time," Abraham said, "ranging from the adequacy of supply, to affordability, to the development of new technologies, to the issues of security at our facilities, and more. Fortunately, this administration is comprised of many individuals with incredible expertise in these areas."
Said Bush in announcing the nomination, "Senator Abraham knows the issues of energy policy, and he understands the opportunities and challenges before us. He’s ready to join me in seeking energy security for the United States."
Born in East Lansing, Michigan on June 12, 1952, Abraham is the son of an autoworker and the grandson of Lebanese Christian immigrants. After staying in his hometown to earn his B.S. degree from Michigan State University, he went on to earn his law degree from Harvard, where he founded the Federalist Society, a conservative law journal.
In 1994, he successfully campaigned to become the first Michigan Republican elected to the U.S. Senate in 22 years.
Bush closed his announcement by stating, "We understand our national security depends upon energy security. In Michigan during the campaign, I pledged a comprehensive energy policy for our country. I look forward to working with Senator Abraham to make sure that energy is available and affordable for all Americans."
OST Looking for More Applied Research
DOE’s Office of Science and Technology is looking to spend more money on applied research projects that are aimed at helping the department solve its environmental cleanup problems. OST recently issued two solicitation notices for proposals of this nature and plans a third in February. Congress appropriated $254.6 million for OST in FY 2001, an increase from the $238.1 million in FY 2000.
Most of these funds were targeted at technology deployments and basic science.
"For the last few years, we have not had an adequate amount of applied research," said Gerald Boyd, a deputy assistant secretary for environmental management. According to Boyd, for the FY 2001 and FY 2002 budget cycles, OST is identifying applied research activities based on long-term needs at DOE sites and the office’s analyses of technology gaps.
"We want to fill the void between basic research and technology development by having an adequately funded applied research program," he said.
One of the two solicitations that have already been issued seeks applied research to help develop and deploy technologies for treating and removing or immobilizing mercury in soil. The other calls for technologies that can be used to characterize, validate and verify long-term monitoring of subsurface contaminates. The upcoming notice will seek technologies that can destroy organics in transuranic waste.
Boyd estimated that each of the applied research contracts awarded under the current and pending OST solicitations will receive $200,000 to $500,000.
"There’s considerably more money in applied research than in previous years," he said. "We expect to award multiple grants before the end of this fiscal year."
FESAC: Fusion Needs Greater Funding
Insufficient funding for DOE’s civilian fusion energy research programs threatens technological progress, according to a report by the department’s Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee. The report, which was prepared in response to a request from DOE Science Director Mildred Dresselhaus, says that if Congress fails to appropriate at least $300 million annually, DOE will be unable to meet its program goals for developing fusion as a viable energy source. DOE received $255 million for fusion research in FY01.
"Completion of the goals leading to a decision on new facilities, such as an Integrated Research Experiment for Inertial Fusion Energy, are also likely to be delayed," the report said.
DOE’s expenditures for the Office of Fusion Energy Science account for about 16% of the world’s total investment in civilian fusion R&D.
"The United States does not aim to be the undisputed world leader in all technical areas. Rather it strives to be among the leaders in selective areas, while working in a mutually supportive manner with other world programs," the FESAC report said. While the U.S. is focused on the science behind fusion, the Europeans, Japanese and Russians have devoted much of their time to developing a burning plasma facility known as the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor. DOE, in response to Congressional concerns about ITER’s projected construction costs, dropped out of the program in 1999. — Lynn Yarris
It may not be unusual for students and scientists to work together. But something special is in the works when elementary school students join some of the nation’s top energy scientists and engineers to build energy-saving ideas generated by the youngsters themselves. This outstanding event will be held today, Jan. 12, at Berkeley Lab as the winners of the EnergySmart Schools contest will meet Lab and other researchers during a special "Inventors’ Summit."
Sponsored by Owens Corning and the U.S. Department of Energy, the contest had elementary school students draw original, energy-saving devices for a chance to be appointed "EnergySmart Schools Inventor" and participate in today’s event.
Members of Berkeley Lab’s Engineering Division have worked on this project as volunteers since the winners were announced in December to make it possible for the youngsters to turn their inventions into reality. The engineers’ tasks involved sketching out more detailed designs, ordering the parts, and assembling (and then disassembling) the inventions in advance to make sure they would work.
A VIP ceremony will be held today at 2 p.m. with Berkeley Lab Director Charles Shank, Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean, Dave Brown, president of Owens Corning’s Insulation Products Division, and officials of the Department of Energy.
Some of the engineers who volunteered their time spent long hours working on the project over the holiday break.
"A number of us are doing this because we have children of our own and we’d like to contribute something to education, " says Bill Edwards, assistant director of the Engineering Division "For us this is a chance to help get kids interested in science and technology."
The young inventors will each receive a $250 savings bond and an all-expense paid trip to Berkeley Lab to build their inventions. The will continue to New York City on a press tour in February.
More information on the project and the event can be found at http://eetd.lbl.gov/inventors/. Watch for complete coverage in the next issue of Currents.
By Lynn Yarris
To raise public support and boost funding, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science should undergo one of two changes: either the head of DOE Science should be elevated to the rank of under secretary, or DOE Science programs should be combined with those at the Department of Commerce into the National Institutes of Science and Advanced Technology, an independent subcabinet agency similar to NIH or NASA.
That was the conclusion of a discussion paper recently prepared by a prestigious 11-member panel that included former Clinton White House science advisor Jack Gibbons, former DOE Science chiefs Martha Krebs and Will Happer, and Berkeley Lab physicist George Trilling, president-elect of the American Physical Society.
For the past decade, DOE Science budgets have been declining in purchasing power and have fared significantly less well than those of other science agencies, the panel concluded. The situation has been exacerbated by an "overall weakness in support for the physical sciences (compared to biology and medicine)," and represents a "serious under-investment" in the research necessary to sustain national economic prosperity in the 21st century.
"We believe that this situation has reached crisis proportions, and that future U.S. leadership in many essential areas of science is in jeopardy," the panelists said. "Our purpose (in this paper) is to suggest actions to strengthen DOE Science that might be taken jointly by the new administration and Congress."
Of the two recommendations made by the panel, the first was based on the assumption that DOE will remain essentially intact under the next administration. In this case, the panel said, elevating the director of DOE Science to the rank of Under Secretary for Science and Energy with additional responsibilities as Science Advisor to the Secretary would improve the visibility and influence of science at DOE and would place the person in charge of science at a level above the large number of DOE staff offices.
"A primary objective would be to have a widely respected and influential scientist in a position where he or she can be an effective leader and spokesperson for DOE science and energy," the panelists said.
The second recommendation was based on a scenario in which DOE would be abolished or have at least some of its responsibilities shifted to other departments. In that case, the panelists said that combining the programs of DOE Science with those of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and possibly the U.S. Geological Survey would create one agency responsible for the management of large-scale and/or multidisciplinary research.
"The new agency would be a visible recognition by the U.S. government that long-term research drives economic progress," they said.
Two other alternatives were rejected by the panel. One calls for DOE Science to be moved into the National Science Foundation, and the other calls for the creation of a Department of Science that would oversee all federal R&D programs.
Published twice a month by the Public Information Department for the employees and retirees of Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Ron Kolb, PID department head.
EDITOR: Monica Friedlander, (510) 495-2248, email@example.com
STAFF WRITERS: Lisa Gonzales, 486-4698; Paul Preuss, 486-6249; Lynn Yarris, 486-5375
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Jon Bashor, X5849; Allan Chen, X4210, Jeffery Kahn, X4019
FLEA MARKET / CALENDAR: 486-5771
Public Information Department, Berkeley Lab, MS 65A
Berkeley Lab is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy.
By Paul Preuss
A "torrent of genome data" was named the Breakthrough of the Year by the editors of Science magazine, as featured on the cover of the 22 December issue of that prestigious journal. Berkeley Lab researchers were major participants in the breakthrough and in the editors’ choice for "first runner-up," atomic-scale revelations of ribosome structure, as well as another of the 10 breakthroughs, balloon-borne studies of the cosmic microwave background.
According to Science, the coming of age of genomics "might well be the breakthrough of the decade, perhaps even the century, for all its potential to alter our view of the world we live in." In a single year the rough draft of the human genome was announced, along with sequences of the fruit fly, the "benchmark weed" Arabidopsis thaliana, and numerous microbes. Before 2000, the only complete sequence of a relatively complex organism was the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.
The genome of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, announced in Science in March, resulted from a collaboration of the private Celera Genomics company with the Berkeley Drosophila Genome Project (BDGP) headed by then UC Berkeley professor of genetics Gerald Rubin. Susan Celniker is codirector of BDGP’s major facility, the Drosophila Genome Sequencing Laboratory in Berkeley Lab’s Life Sciences Division, and Roger Hoskins is leader of the physical mapping project there. (For more see http://www.lbl. gov/Science-Articles/Research-Review/ Highlights/2000/stories/bioscience/whole_fly.html.)
Meanwhile, the Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute (JGI), a multilab consortium headed by Trevor Hawkins, director of Berkeley Lab’s new Genomics Division, provided megabases of sequence this year for humans and microbes both: drafts of human chromosomes 5, 16, and 19 were announced in April, the sequence of the "supergerm" Enterococcus faecium just a month later, and in October, draft sequences of 15 other bacteria were completed in less than a month.
Also in October, JGI announced its intention to sequence the genomically remarkable fugu, or puffer fish. (For more see http://www.jgi.doe.gov/tempweb/.)
The Advanced Light Source helped unlock the mystery of the ribosome, Science’s runner-up breakthrough, when Harry Noller of UC Santa Cruz used the Macromolecular Crystallography Facility designed and constructed by Thomas Earnest of the Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division to resolve the crystal structure of the ribosome of a heat-loving bacterium at a resolution of 7.8 angstroms. The ribosome is the nucleic acid structure in all cells that takes genetic information encoded by RNA from the gene in the cell’s DNA and cranks out the corresponding protein. (For more see http://www.lbl.gov/Science-Articles/Research-Review/Highlights/2000/stories/bioscience/ribosomal.html.)
Last April, the international BOOMERANG consortium announced the results of its circumpolar balloon flight in Antarctica (which took place the previous year) to map the cosmic microwave background. Less than two weeks later MAXIMA, another balloon-borne CMB experiment that covered less of the sky but at higher resolution, confirmed the results: the universe is flat. The result underlines the conclusion reached by the Supernova Cosmology Project, headquartered at Berkeley Lab, that the expansion of the universe is accelerating — the discovery that Science named its Breakthrough of the Year just two years ago.
Paul Richards of the Lab’s Materials Sciences Division led the MAXIMA team, in which many other Lab researchers participated, including George Smoot of the Physics Division. Julian Borrill of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) was a member of both teams and used NERSC’s parallel-processing supercomputers to analyze their enormous sets of data. (See http://www.lbl.gov/Science-Articles/Archive/ boomerang-flat.html and http://www.lbl.gov/Science-Articles/Archive/maxima-results.html.)
That researchers from seven of Berkeley Lab’s divisions were crucial participants in three of the ten breakthroughs of the year named by Science is a remarkable testament to the range and depth of scientific research conducted at this laboratory.
Scientific American's January issue features an article by Jeremiah P. Ostriker and Paul J. Steinhardt telling how to choose between the cosmological constant and quintessence, two theories of the dark energy that drives the accelerating universe: "Existing telescopes cannot tell the two cases apart, but the proposed Supernova Acceleration Probe should be able to."
Saul Perlmutter and Michael Levi of the Physics Division are coprincipal investigators of the SuperNova/Acceleration Probe (SNAP), which was previewed at a special session — nine theoretical and experimental talks — at the American Astronomical Society meeting in San Diego this Tuesday.
For more information see http://snap.lbl.gov/.
On Dec. 21, President Bill Clinton signed the last of 13 annual spending bills for the U.S. government’s $1.8 trillion FY 2001 budget. Only a third of that money is available for discretionary spending, but nearly $91 billion of this amount went to research and development — a record total that is more than nine percent higher than last year’s record.
DOE’s Office of Science saw a 13.2 percent increase, from $2.8 billion to $3.1 billion. NIH and NSF also saw healthy increases of 14.2 and 13.6 percent, respectively. Non-defense R&D spending reached an all-time high of $45.4 billion, almost equal to the amount spent on military-related research. According to a survey by AAAS, President Clinton, who was once perceived to be ambivalent about science, is now widely credited with having successfully steered the federal R&D enterprise through "one of its most perilous and productive decades."
In a recent interview with Science editor Ellis Rubinstein, Clinton, when asked to evaluate his administration’s performance for science, said: "I think we did do a great deal of good with basic research. There was enormous support in the Congress, among the Republicans as well as the Democrats, for more funding for the National Institutes of Health [NIH] and all related health research. I think there were some politics in that, because it’s easier to sell that to voters back home because we all want to live forever. But our Administration kept fighting for overall increases. We got the biggest increase in history for the National Science Foundation this year. So, I think we got research back on the national agenda, and big." — Lynn Yarris
In the review of The Transuranium People (Currents, Dec. 22, 2000), the last sentence and the picture caption on Page 5 were incomplete. The last sentence should have ended ". . . anyone with an interest in the history and promise of the ‘artificial’ elements heavier than uranium." The caption with the story should have read "Helen Seaborg with Darleane Hoffman at Berkeley Lab’s memorial service for Glenn Seaborg, March 1999."
We regret any inconvenience caused by these omissions.
By Monica Friedlander
Three long-time Lab employees were recognized last month with the J. Michael Nitschke Award for Technical Excellence for their contributions to science at Berkeley Lab. The ceremony was held on Dec. 18 in Perseverance Hall.
Established by nuclear chemist Albert Ghiorso in 1997, the award honors individuals who may not be household names but whose accomplishments make major scientific discoveries possible. The award is made through the East Bay Community Foundation with funds from the estate of the late Michael Nitschke, a Berkeley Lab nuclear scientist who died in 1995.
The awards, which include a citation and a $3,000 prize, were presented by Klaus Berkner, Eric Norman, Claude Lyneis, and Hans-Jorg Ritter.
"It was especially gratifying to see how much the awards meant to each of the recipients," said Norman. "I know that Mike Nitschke really valued technical people and this is a great way to recognize their contribution."
The recipients are:
The awards ceremony was followed by a well-attended reception.
By David Gilbert
When she was freshman at Oakland’s Fremont High School, Jessica Castaneda was close to giving up and dropping out. "I really hated school," she recalls. "I cut classes. I just wanted to have fun and hang out with my friends."
Then, through her biology teacher, Castaneda heard about Berkeley Biotechnology Education, Inc. (BBEI). She stayed in school, and now — thanks to a novel school-to-career biotechnology training program — she plays an integral role in the hunt for a better way to detect and treat breast cancer.
Organized nearly a decade ago, BBEI has enabled Castaneda and at least a half dozen other Berkeley Lab colleagues to begin to realize dream careers in biotechnology. In 1992, Bayer Corporation (then Miles, Inc.) sought to make Berkeley its worldwide center of biotechnology operations. The West Berkeley community, reluctant to embrace the massive development, fearing that little benefit would trickle down to them as neighbors, established a dialog with Bayer, the City of Berkeley, and the local schools. What emerged was a unique independent, non-profit, school-to-career program: BBEI. The organization was designed as a high school and community college training program targeting the lower income neighborhood population of mostly Hispanics and African Americans for career positions at Bayer. The company committed more than $1.4 million in start-up and implementation funds. Equally critical to the program’s success, Bayer scientists and technicians committed to opening their labs and working with teachers from Berkeley High School and the local community college district. In partnership with BBEI, a curriculum was developed that would emphasize hands-on learning and train students in the skills necessary for career employment in the biotech industry.
BBEI has grown and now receives support from several foundations and partners with some 40 biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and such non-profit/governmental laboratories as the East Bay Municipal Water District, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and, over the last three years, Berkeley Lab.
"At first, I was not interested at all," admits Castaneda. "It sounded like just a lot of work. But what was I going to do? Go to college?" Now, with a few years of hard work behind her and a couple of biotech internships, Castaneda was offered a full-time job in the laboratory of Life Sciences investigator Ruth Lupu.
"My project is really interesting," says Castaneda, who studies normal and "immortalized" cells (those that don’t die) and has developed a retrovirus with which she infects cell lines to determine how tumors develop. Castaneda seems nearly breathless with excitement while discussing her research — a long way from the precipice of dropping out.
Says Castaneda’s mentor, Miaw-Sheue Tsai, "Jessica has made tremendous progress since she first joined the lab in June 1999, from knowing very little biology to now being in charge of an independent project. She is a great help to the lab."
"BBEI acts as an intermediary between industry and schools to create a skilled workforce by providing opportunities to students underrepresented in the biosciences who are not on such a career path," says Cheryl Franklin-Golden, BBEI’s executive director. She says that BBEI students are afforded support in school through tutoring and on the job through an established mentoring infrastructure. "Students learn early on that they can achieve success when they feel they are not alone," she says. "BBEI is a catalyst providing a community of caring adults who stand at the ready to assist students with life’s challenges."
BBEI has established Biotech Academies for juniors and seniors at Berkeley High School and Fremont High School in Oakland. Students enter the program in the 11th grade and get paid on-the-job experience in actual industry settings during the summer before entering 12th grade. The program continues with the Biotech Career Institute at Laney College, where students work 20 hours a week (40 hours during the summer). Teachers in the Biotech Academies are likewise offered training in the latest techniques at the partner institutions.
Bldg. 74 has become a hotbed of intern activity. Just down the corridor from Castanda is the lab of G. Shyamala, where Keturah Spikes, a BBEI student from Laney College, is using transgenic mice to study breast cancer. Shyamala has employed a team approach for Spikes’ apprenticeship, which includes three postdocs. Just next door, in the laboratory of Mary Helen Barcellos-Hoff, Shraddha Ravani mentors Rosie Chau, and BBEI alum Nate Areceneaux helps out downstairs in the Animal Facility.
"They trust me with a lot of different tasks," says Spikes, who works on genotype screening and maintaining the animal colony — all this while also working at a veterinary hospital in Oakland and taking chemistry and biology classes at Laney. Her goal is to become a virologist. "It is challenging, but there’s no turning back. I’m going from a science class to actually doing science. I can apply what I learn in my class to my job."
Spikes’ words confirm the views of many who contend that students need to establish connections between the classroom and how the academic concepts relate to the workplace and to society as a whole. Teachers report that student interest and achievement improve dramatically when connections are made between new information and real world experiences.
"If people see these students only as a pair of hands, they’re missing the point," Shyamala says. "We must be conscientious educators if the program is to amount to something. As we are not necessarily driven by the bottom line, we can develop a learning environment that allows them to see the possibilities. It’s about discovery. Students keep me young. They bring the world to me."
Harry Reed, head of the Lab’s Office of Workforce Diversity, has lent the support of his office to the program. "Since diversity is the product of access, I think the BBEI program represents a model for recruiting traditionally underrepresented minorities in the sciences who might not otherwise have access to training."
The skills that the BBEI students develop cut across a broad range of disciplines in biology and health-related science. Tamas Torok, for instance, a Life Sciences Division microbiologist, has served as mentor to numerous students at the Lab’s Center for Environmental Biotechnology, where he screens microbes he has isolated from the extreme environments of Russia’s Kronotsky Preserve in Kamchatka.
Meanwhile, Spikes has her gaze set on the future and her dream of one day working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. "My mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer and I don’t want to see anybody suffer like that anymore. Because of the connections I’ve established here at the Lab, I’ll probably get into Davis and in 10 years I’ll be working at the CDC."
BBEI will soon be filling slots for internships for the coming summer. Researchers interested in participating may contact Jonghui "J" Lee at 705-4830. Additional information can be found on the BBEI website at http://www.bbei.org.
Memorial Service for James Harris
A memorial service will be held for James Harris on Friday, Jan. 26 at 5:30 p.m. in the Richmond Auditorium in Richmond.
Harris, the first black scientist to participate in major programs to identify new elements, died on Tuesday, Dec. 12.
The next issue of Currents will present a closer look at Harris’ life and his contributions to science and the Lab.
Scientist Dario Boffelli of the Life Sciences Division and his wife Tomoko Asagami, a post doctoral fellow at Stanford, announce the arrival of Mayuko Giuletta Boffelli, born on Jan. 5 and weighing in at 5 lbs., 9 oz. Mother, father and baby are all doing just great.
And Morris George Flynn, 9 lbs., 12 oz, was born on Dec. 28 to proud parents Mike and Michelle Flynn. Michelle works in EH&S's Waste Management Group.
Congratulations to the new parents and newborns.
New Program to Enhance Recruitment
The Human Resources Department has developed a new award program recently approved for implementation by the DOE. The Employee Referral Incentive Program (ERIP) is designed as an integral part of the Lab’s overall recruiting strategy by encouraging employees to utilize their existing contacts and networks as potential sources for qualified candidates.
ERIP offers a $1,000 award to employees whose referral of an external applicant leads to a successful hire. While most posted positions are eligible for award consideration, some are not. These include contract labor, student positions, postdocs, GSRA’s, temporary/limited positions, and rehired retirees. The award payment will be made within two weeks from the date the new hire reports to work.
All full and part-time employees are eligible to participate as long as they are on payroll or authorized leave at the time of payment. Contract labor, guests, members of the senior management group and employees whose primary job duties include recruiting for the Laboratory are excluded from the program. Managers and supervisors are not eligible to receive awards for referrals within their own chain of command.
The program will be coordinated by HR, which will process the referral application and issue the award payment through the payroll office. It goes into effect on Feb. 1 and will be in effect for one year, at which time HR and the DOE will evaluate its success.
New Financial & Retirement Planning Series
Fidelity Investments returns to Berkeley Lab with a new series of workshops as well as one-on-one consultations with one of their representatives.
The individual sessions start on Jan. 10 and are held between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the Bldg. 65A conference room.
Four workshops on different topics will be held from 12 to 1 p.m. in the Bldg. 66 auditorium according to the following schedule:
March 29: Getting Started
Appointments for both the one-on-one sessions and the workshops may be made by calling Fidelity at 1-800-642-7231.
New financial management series
Meanwhile, a series of onsite financial presentations will be provided by Merrill Lynch, and will kick off on Jan. 23. One of their certified financial managers will come here to present a wide range of topics, from educational and estate planning to portfolio management. The Jan. 23 presentation will be held from 12 to 1 p.m. in the Bldg. 66 auditorium.
CUE Ratifies New Labor Agreement
On Dec. 20, 2000, the University of California and representatives of the 18,000-member Coalition of University Employees (CUE) signed their first-ever agreement after ratification of a new union contract was voted by CUE members. The contract became effective immediately.
This ratification officially signals the implementation of the separate Lab agreement, approved last fall by CUE on behalf of approximately 235 clerical workers at the Laboratory. The Berkeley Lab agreement also committed to skills training for bargaining unit employees to enhance current job skills and for increased promotional opportunities. For more information on the Lab part of the contract, see the Oct. 20 issue of Currents, available on the Lab website under "Publications."
The new UC contract provides for wage increases through 2001, including retroactive payments, with salary adjustments broken down by year.
The contract expires Sept. 30, 2001. UC will resume negotiations with CUE for the next contract in early spring 2001.
A copy of the new contract is available at http://www.ucop.edu/humres/contracts/cx.
Make a Difference Donate Blood
Onsite Blood Drive on Jan. 30
The American Red Cross furnishes nearly half of the nation’s blood, supplying 6.3 million units to those in need. Crucial to maintaining this supply, however, is continued blood donations from volunteers. Currently only five percent of eligible Americans donate blood, making it difficult for the Red Cross to insure the safety margin of a three-day blood supply. You can help.
The next two-day, onsite blood drive, part of an ongoing partnership between Berkeley Lab and the American Red Cross Blood Services, is scheduled for Jan. 30 (7 a.m – 1 p.m.) and Jan. 31 (8 a.m. – 1 p.m.) in Bldg. 70A-3377.
Donors can schedule appointments online at the BeADonor website (http://www.beadonor.com) to help organizers plan the event. Use group code "LBL" on the web form.
Detailed donor information can be found on the BeADonor website.
For additional information contact Charlotte Bochra at X4268.
New Postal Rates
The Mail Room reminds employees that starting Jan.7 the cost of mailing a first class letter increased from 33 to 34 cents. The new stamps bear the inscription "USA First Class" and may be purchased at the post office, participating groceries, drug stores, ATMs, online at http://www.usps.com or by calling 800-STAMP-24. The cost of mailing a postcard remains 20 cents. International postage rates also changed.
JANUARY 12, Friday
ENERGYSMART INVENTORS SUMMIT
JANUARY 18, Thursday
FIDELITY ONE-ON-ONE SESSION
JANUARY 22, Monday
MERYLL LYNCH FINANCIAL PRESENTATION
JANUARY 30, Tuesday
ONSITE BLOOD DRIVE
JANUARY 31, Wednesday
ONSITE BLOOD DRIVE
8 – 1 p.m., Bldg. 70A-3377
Send us your announcements
Announcements for the General Calendar and Bulletin Board page may be sent to MSFriedlander@lbl.gov. Seminar & Lectures items may be mailed to currents_ firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also fax items to X6641 or mail them to Bldg. 65B. The deadline for the Jan. 26 issue is 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 22.
Seminars & Lectures
JANUARY 16, Tuesday
PHYSICS DIVISON RESEARCH PROGRESS MEETING
JANUARY 19, Friday
LIFE SCIENCES DIVISION SEMINAR
JANUARY 22, Monday
PHYSICS DEPARTMENT COLLOQUIUM
JANUARY 25, Thursday
PHYSICS DIVISON RESEARCH PROGRESS MEETING
JANUARY 26, Friday
ENVIRONMENTAL ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES DIVISION SEMINAR
JANUARY 30, Tuesday
LIFE SCIENCES DIVISION SEMINAR
AIM, a Walnut Creek-based computer software training firm, provides onsite PC computer courses to Lab employees.
Classes are held in Bldg. 51L from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Class descriptions and registration procedure are available at http://www.lbl.gov/Workplace/EDT/computers/PC_Classes.html.
All in-house courses are taught on PCs with Windows 98®. The 97 series programs are used by the newest version of Microsoft Office for Windows 98®. Series 6.x progra ms for the Mac are nearly identical to the Windows 98® versions. For users of a Mac 6.x series or an older Mac or PC version, the material covered in these courses will be applicable.
For more information or to provide feedback about the program, contact Heather Pinto at email@example.com.
Thursday, Jan. 25, 12 p.m., Bldg. 90-3148
This timely presentation, part of Environmental Energy Technologies Division’s Building Energy Seminar series, will review the complexities underlying the current electricity crisis in the state.
Joe Eto and Chris Marnay of EETD will talk about the many different factors contributing to the present situation, including the reasons wholesale electricity prices are high, the structure of California’s electrical system, the history of restructuring, reliability management, Stage I and Stage II emergency notices, and strategies to deal with the difficulties we are experiencing.
2000 HONDA ACCORD SE, auto, 11K mi, gold, showroom cond, $17,000, John, (925) 681-1581 before 9 p.m.
‘98 TOYOTA AVALON XLS, V6, auto,white w/ grey leather int, all pwr, cd, moonrf, alloys, abs, premium sound, 33K mi, garaged, like new, $23,000, Kevin, X4319, (925) 833-1668
‘95 FORD ESCORT Wagon LX, red, 55K mi, at, ac, 2 airbags, CD/ radio, exc cond, $5,400/bo, Uwe, X5119, 528-2674
‘93 TOYOTA 4-RUNNER, 5-spd, 123K mi, metallic silver, pwr win, ac, cruise, new tires & wheels, exc cond, passed AAA 120K diagnostics, $11,000, John, (925) 681-1581 before 9 p.m.
‘89 CHEVY BERETTA GT V6, 5 spd, loaded, new engine, clutch, clean, well manit, 116K mi, pics http://xse.com/beretta/, see it at buggy bank, 2821 Shattuck, $2,500, Craig, 769-6224
‘87 MITSUBISHI GALANT luxury sedan, 4 dr, bronze, auto, climate control, pwr win/drs, radio on steer wheel, very clean, gd cond, orig owner, records avail, 95K mi, $2,250, John, (925) 376-4132
‘87 ACURA INTERGRA LS, 4 dr, 5 spd, dark grey ext, 1 owner, new tires, alpine stereo, cruise, ac, 180K mi, very good cond, $2,500, Amy, X5044, 848-5267
‘85 BMW 325E COUPE, sunrf, pwr win, 5 spd, good cond, $2,500/bo, Sue, X6395
‘77 VOLVO 245DL Wagon, runs but needs clutch & other work, $700/bo, Marion, X6415, Jesse 848-2757
ANTIOCH, furn room in new house for 1 person, no pets/no smok, off Hwy 4, Hillscrest Ave, util incl, w/d, bart/van pool avail, $400/mo, Eva, firstname.lastname@example.org, (925) 778-6077 eves
BERKELEY 2 bdrm house, 15 min walk west of downtown, furn, share yard/laundry, $2,000/ mo, non-smok, Chris, C_Marnay@lbl.gov, X7028, 589-5202 mobile
BERKELEY HILLS, room w/ view of Tilden Park, well-furn in contemp home; lovely location for walking, bike to LBNL or take 65 bus to campus/downtown; share 1.5 bath, kitchen, laundry, deck w/ owner, 2 cats/1 dog, non-smok, $500/mo+util, Kathie, X5543, ksmilano@ lbl.gov, 527-0612
BERKELEY, furn apt, Oxford/ Cedar; 2 bdrm/2 ba, 1,000 sq ft, avail now to 7/31, min 6 week stay, $1,800 to $2,000/mo, depending on duration & number of residents, Tony, 524-8122, email@example.com
BERKELEY, furn room, nice area near Walnut Square, $875/mo, avail now, Helen, 527-3252
BERKELEY room avail 2/1, unfurn, 1st floor, approx 10'x11', wood flrs, priv ba, share kitchen, no living rm in unit, share w/ single female Lab employee (I have own rm/bath), south of campus near College/Channing, approx 1 min from shuttle stop, street parking, pd parking avail in May for $55, no pets/smoking inside bldg, $640/mo, pref female, will consider male, firstname.lastname@example.org
DOWNTOWN BERKELEY, Oxford St, lge unfurn condo in 12 unit bldg, 2 bdrm/2bth, balcony, bayview, 1 car parking in gated garage, $1,975/mo incl util, 12 mo lease, avail 2/1, wbkunkel@ lbl.gov, Keith Carroll, 236-1850
EL CERRITO, priv room in home for 1 person, pref female, furn, full bath, patio door to yrd, kitchen/laundry privil, avail 1/28-5/31, $700/mo incl util, $100 phone dep, short walk to BART, Dorothea, 527-6271
NORTH BERKELEY, comf study-bdrm in large house, easy access to buses, BART & shops, ideal for short-term visiting scholar, avail now, $675/mo, util (except phone) incl, Paul or Mimy, 524-3739, email@example.com
NORTH BERKELEY, share 3-bdrm/1 bath home on bus route, Jan-May w/ possible extension, furn rm, non-smoking, must enjoy pets (dog/cat), $800/mo + util, Marion, X6415, 526-4528
OAKLAND, Lake Merritt, 1 bdrm apt avail 2/1, close to BART, new fridge/stove, $1,250/mo incl gas/ water/trash, $2,000 sec dep, open house 1/27, 12-5 pm., 343-A Lenox Ave, Jin, 530-3760
RICHMOND MARINA, rm w/ bath avail to female employee/ student, $620/mo, share kitchen & living rm w/ 2 adults, no smoking, Shanshan, 234-4873
RICHMOND/EL SOBRANTE, 3+ bdrm/2 bath home, cul de sac in quiet neighborhd, pool, landsc backyrd, 6-mo lease, maint of pool & patio incl, $2,600/mo, Nancee, (415) 243-0711
NEW LAB EMPLOYEE, male, non-smoker, seeks room from 3/1 for 3-6 months, firstname.lastname@example.org
STAFF ASTROPHYSICIST seeks housing in Berkeley near Lab or on Lab bus line, $700 or less per bdrm, shared household, grad students ok, Bruce, bruce@singu. lbl.gov, X5489, 704-0559
VISITING FEMALE RESEARCHER grad student from the Netherlands seeks a furn rm w/ kitchen & other facilities in a house w/ room mates, 1/15-6/15, pref close to Lab shuttle or publ transp, Armande van Duin, armande9@hotmail, or Ernst Worrell, EWorrell@ lbl.gov, X6794
VISITING PROFESSOR from Russia seeks studio/1 bdrm apt, up to $1,000, mid-Jan- early Sept, Andrei, X6634, 525-5886 eves
VISITING RESEARCHER from Canada seeks shared living arrangement or studio close to LBNL or near BART, for 1 yr, up to $900/mo, single, non-smoker, Ivo, X7521, IKoprinarov@lbl.gov
VISITING RESEARCHER from France seeks accomodations for 3 mos starting 2/01, Artur, X7257, email@example.com
VISITING RESEARCHER from Japan w/ family seeks 2 bdrm house/apt, 3/1-9/30, Yoshiyuki Shimoda, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: ++81-727-82-3223, or Mary Ann, X7437
VISITING SCIENTIST from Germany w/ wife & son seeks furn 2-3 bdrm house or apt w/ yard, 3/1-4/15, email@example.com, tel: +49 8202 2387 or Greg X4051
Misc For Sale
10" SKILL TABLE SAW, $120/bo; comp desk w/ hutch, $85/bo; bookcase, $30/bo, Duo, X6878
4 PASSENGER COUPONS valued $200/ea on Hawaiian Airlines; valid until 11/18; sell for $150/ea; Alexander, X7533, (925)937-2318
BABY EXERCISE SAUCER used only a few mos, exc cond, paid $50, Lisa, X5314, (925) 906-9786
CD SHELF, holds 40 CDs, never used, black plastic, $10, Melissa, 665-5572, leave msg
CHESTBED, double w/ Simmons matt, 6 lge storage drawers, attached nightstands w/ small drawers, natural oak finish, $200, John, X6008.
CLASSIC SHEEPSKIN full-length coat, perf cond, warm, size 38, good for avge height men or tall women, $65; parka, wilderness experience, size M, goretex quallofill, insulated hood, snow skirt, $65; Simac Pastamatic X700 electric kneading, many disks for diff shapes, $45, Bruce, X5489, 704-0559
ETHERNET CARD 10/100base-tx (rj45) 3 Com/Dell model 575, built by 3 Com for Dell notebooks, supposedly equivalent to original 575, does not work w/ Linux, ok for Windows, like new, $50, GianLuca, X2250
KIRKLAND FILM, 10-pk of 400 spd 24 exp, pics develop clear & sharp, comparable to Kodak or Fuji, 6-10-pks, $12/ea, Deborah, X5372
OAK DINING TABLE, rectangular w/ 4 upholstered chairs, low use, $200; Danish white mela-mine desk w/ 3 drawers, $50; Mitsubishi 27" color TV, $200; Serta queen mattress, good cond, $50, Dave, X4506
SOFA, 6', 2 lge seat cushions, back cushions, rounded arms, terra cotta color, from Whole Earth Access, 5 yrs old, good shape, $150 if pick it up; 2 lamps, ceylon style from Pottery Barn, ivory shades, 22" tall, $60/pr, Janet, X5973
STAIR STEPPER, $50/bo, Norm or Lisa, X6724, 533-8765
WINDOW COVERINGS, elegant pull down shades (4), victorian style/trim, antique white, 2 shades 35-1/16" W, 2 shades 27-9/16" W, $180 for all, Jean, X5678
BETA VCR, any cond as long as it plays tapes, Rich, X6192
DOG SITTING EXCHANGE, overnight, I have safe fenced-in yrd w/ access to protected back porch, Luanne, X5853, 261-1712
DOT-MATRIX PRINTER for PC, inexpensive, Joe, X7631
MOTORIZED TREADMILL in good cond, Maureen, X4595, (925) 372-6707
STUDY PARTNER or group to practice ASL, Chip, X7882, (925) 682-2349
ZENITH 4-HEAD VCR; has a tape adj problem, Kathy, X4931
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org), fax (X6641), or delivered/mailed to Bldg. 65B.
Ads run one week only unless resubmitted, and are repeated only as space permits. They may not be retracted once submitted for publication.
The deadline for the Dec. 1 issue Thursday, Nov. 23.