July 25, 2003 Search the Currents Archive

Late-year Budget Woes Lead to “Payroll Burden” for Divisions

Fringe Benefits, Not a Burden

Nogo’s Secret Hint at Cure for Spinal Injuries
Return to Kamchatka
Shank, Officials Visit Oak Ridge to View SNS Progress
Orbach Praises NERSC Achievements
NASA Grant Goes to Lab Scientist
Lab’s Alex Zettl Creates the First Nanomotor
National Academies Holds Workshop on Universities-Laboratories Collaboration
Currents Online
Students and Mentors Explore the World of Science
Faulty Berkeley Lamps Will Be Replaced
Summer Blood Drive
In Memoriam

Currents Takes Brief Summer Hiatus
Stay Cool This Summer
Berkeley Lab Currents
Flea Market Policy

Late-year Budget Woes Lead to “Payroll Burden” for Divisions

By Ron Kolb

Unexpected mid-year University adjustments to worker’s compensation costs and a change in the recording of federal tax payments have conspired to hit Berkeley Lab with a late-year budget dilemma. More than $1.7 million to cover additional costs will have to be collected to offset the shortfall.

Randy Scott, head of Human Resources, discusses the budget dilemma with Bill Wasson, the Lab’s chief financial officer, and principal accountant Jim Norwood.

That translates into a retroactive recovery for FY 2003 of an additional one percent of what is called the “payroll burden” — a term that Chief Financial Officer Bill Wasson says is a mischaracterization (see sidebar on Page 4). This is the money collected to pay for a long list of employee benefits, including paid absences and health plans.

Divisions will handle their assessment in various ways. But Jim Norwood, the Lab’s principal accountant, said it’s important for them to understand that all payroll burden costs are related to employee benefits — up to 43 percent for paid leaves alone. “It’s a true cost of doing business,” he said, “involving a pro rata return of costs to programs in a fair and equitable manner.”
Several factors contributed to the increase. Workers’ compensation premiums are paid to the University of California, which administers its own insurance plan. Each campus, medical center, or lab has its rate based on its individual experience rating. UC’s actuary took a closer look at fund collections across the system, and almost all locations are experiencing rate increases as of July 1.

The increases are due in part to additional benefits mandated by a change in California law. The result for Berkeley Lab was an increase in its rate of contribution, plus an additional charge to replenish a dwindling reserve account.

The Lab was able to defer part of the increase until the start of the FY04 fiscal year in October, but the overall rate will more than double next year.

Never mind that the Lab’s payouts for workers’ comp have been steady over recent years, and that its safety rate has been outstanding. The formula for payment is based on costs incurred over 18 years, encompassing the good and the bad periods. Rates are established based upon actual costs and projected costs from open claims.

Wasson said his hope is that the bump is temporary. He cautions, however, that the trend for the future doesn’t look good.

“Workers’ comp is going up and has continued to go up,” he said. “Health insurance has been climbing 15 to 25 percent a year. Last year, employees started paying a small amount of their health insurance. Annuitant (retiree) health care is also increasing steadily. We don’t know where this is all going to end.”

It’s an answer that Berkeley Lab — and all employers — can’t wait to find out.

Fringe Benefits, Not a Burden

It’s not that Bill Wasson dislikes the words “payroll burden.” It’s just that, as they are applied to the financial systems at Berkeley Lab, he feels they misrepresent what the $70 million fund is all about.

“It sounds so negative, but in reality, what the money is used for is a positive,” said the Lab’s chief financial officer. “Better it should be called ‘fringe benefits.’” Whether or not his new lexicon makes it into the ledgers and spreadsheets, he’d like everyone — especially those who pay the freight — to know what they’re paying for.

Take paid absences, for example, and health insurance. The Laboratory funds these for full-time employees via a supplemental cost assessment on project income. For example, if a project brings in $100,000 to the Lab, and $30,000 of that is used to pay employees, then 37.6 percent of that labor total, or $18,280, will go to the Lab for employer-paid personnel benefits.

The list of those benefits is long. Paid leaves such as holidays, vacation and sick leave account for 43 percent of the total collected for benefits, or roughly $30 million a year. Health plans — medical, dental, vision — amount to another 23 percent. Federal taxes for Medicare and Social Security comprise 18 percent of the total, and retirees’ health care another 10 percent.

That’s not all. In the mix of Lab-provided cost coverage are unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation, the employee referral program ($1,000 per successful referral hired), graduate student fee waivers and health coverage, mental health services through the campus Tang Center, death benefits to surviving spouses, severance pay for terminated workers, and employee tuition reimbursement for college.

Each division has to pay the “payroll burden” for items like the above, and this is applied to the labor charged to the project. In addition, the research divisions apply an “organizational” burden for administration and equipment — things like space charges, materials, supplies, and administrative support. Though this amount varies among divisions, the average assessment is about 16 percent on the combined labor and payroll burden costs. Divisions also pay “G&A” — for general administration and support of the Laboratory. (This institutional overhead pays for the overall management and administration of the Lab, plus site support services from Facilities and EH&S). The composite G&A rate of 45 percent is applied to fully-loaded direct costs except materials.

It is the fringe benefit accounts that are causing the current concern. A one percent assessment, retroactive to Oct. 1, will be made to recover unexpected workers’ compensation, severance costs, and other payroll burden cost increases. The new rate on payroll will be 38.6 percent, and Human Resour-ces head Randy Scott said he fears it may go higher as health costs sustain double-digit escalation.

Still, he said, the Laboratory will continue to provide a generous package of benefits, thanks to the University of California and to those scientists and administrators who bring in the programs that pay for them.

Nogo’s Secret Hint at Cure for Spinal Injuries

By Dan Krotz

Scientists are inching closer to a cure for spinal cord injuries, thanks to a research team that used Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS) to determine the structure of a protein that prevents neurons from repairing themselves.

The protein is dubbed the Nogo receptor because it binds with several other proteins that block neural growth. It is found on the surface of thin fibers, called axons, which carry information between neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Researchers believe that if they can pharmaceutically block the interaction between the Nogo receptor and these growth-inhibiting proteins, then severed neurons may fuse back together, and paralyzed people could walk again.

Although years away, such drug therapy begins with an atom-by-atom understanding of how the Nogo receptor grabs inhibitory proteins, and this begins with a close-up view of the receptor itself. To kick off this inquiry, researchers from Berkeley Lab, Stanford University School of Medicine, and Harvard Medical School developed a 1.5-angstrom resolution image of the Nogo receptor ectodomain (one angstrom is one ten-billionth of a meter).

“This is an important step,” says Gerry McDermott, a staff scientist in the Physical Biosciences Division. “It’s the first time the Nogo receptor has been structurally determined at this resolution, and it sets the stage for further research that may lead to drug development.”

Unlike most cells, neurons in the spine and brain lose their ability to regenerate shortly after people reach adulthood. Their incapacity to grow seems to appear when axons develop a fatty, insulating layer called myelin.

In addition to improving the flow of nerve impulses between neurons, some scientists theorize that myelin locks an adult’s fully formed neural network in place, preventing the development of new and potentially harmful circuits.

Ordinarily, this is fine. Healthy adults possess all the neurons they will ever need by the time they’ve matured.

Gerry McDermott of Physical Biosciences was part of the team that used the ALS to reveal the molecular structure of the NOGO receptor.

But it also means that neurons can’t repair themselves if they’re damaged by trauma, stroke or diseases such as multiple sclerosis. To learn how to rewire broken neurons, researchers have spent the last several years hunting for proteins that block their growth. In 2000, a team of scientists determined that the Nogo protein, which attaches to myelin, plays a key role in inhibiting axon regeneration. One year later, the same team found its mate — a receptor located on axons that binds with the Nogo protein and enables the protein to do its job. Since then, much more has been learned about the Nogo receptor. Not only does it bind with the Nogo protein, but at least two other growth-inhibiting proteins.

“All three of these proteins can block neuron growth, and they are all structurally different,” McDermott says. “This means we have to understand the binding mechanism of each protein before we can develop ways to hinder their interaction.”

As part of this investigation, Stanford University School of Medicine’s Christopher Garcia and his team crystallized the receptor and turned to Berkeley Lab’s ALS, where they exposed it to extremely bright x-rays that reveal the receptor’s molecular structure.

At a resolution of 1.5 angstroms, the receptor’s strange shape comes into focus — a curving molecule with a spine and a belly. In addition, the concave portion of the molecule appears to harbor a rich binding site capable of grabbing a wide range of proteins. And although the image doesn’t reveal precisely how the receptor binds with so many proteins, it lays the groundwork for further research that could.

“We have the initial structure, and now we have to see how the growth-inhibiting proteins bind to it,” McDermott says. “This work will help determine the pharmaceutical path to restoring neuron growth.”

To do this, the team will next crystallize the receptor in the presence of the three proteins, and again use the ALS to visualize precisely how the receptor interlocks with each one. With this information, researchers can then develop synthetic peptides that bind to the receptor in exactly the same configuration as each growth-inhibiting protein, creating a cap that renders the receptor inert.

Such drug therapy isn’t far-fetched. Last year, a Yale University team developed a peptide that blocks the interaction between the Nogo receptor and the Nogo protein, a feat that sparked the growth of nerve fibers in rats. Similar success in people is perhaps years away, but a growing wave of research, such as the close-up view of the Nogo receptor, is helping scientists zero in on a treatment for the approximately 11,000 Americans who suffer spinal cord injuries each year.

The x-ray crystallography work was conducted at ALS beamline 8.2.1, which is funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In addition to McDermott and Garcia, Xiaolin Li and Fernando Bazan of the Stanford University School of Medicine, Kevin Wang of Harvard Medical School, and Marc Tres-sier-Lavigne of Stanford University contributed to the research. The study was published in the April 24, 2003 issue of Neuron.

Return to Kamchatka

Hunting for useful microbes in Siberia

By Paul Preuss

Weapons of mass destruction present one major challenge rarely mentioned in the headlines: how to encourage the people who make them to take up more productive pursuits. In the summer of 2001, microbiologist Tamas Torok of the Life Sciences Division and Glen Dahlbacka of the Technology Transfer Department found themselves on such an errand in one of the wildest places on Earth.

Siberia’s Kamchatka Peninsula is an intensely active volcanic region almost as big as California but with only seven percent of the population of the Bay Area — most of it concentrated near the peninsula’s only town, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. To a veteran bioprospector like Torok, this vast realm of hot springs and fumaroles and acid lakes is a trove of undiscovered microbes.

In recent years much of Torok’s work abroad has been done under the auspices of DOE’s Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP), a program that fosters collaboration between national laboratories, former Soviet weapons scientists, and U.S. private companies. Dahlbacka manages IPP programs at Berkeley Lab and chairs IPP’s Inter-Laboratory Advisory Board. One major collaboration has involved the DuPont Company’s agricultural arm and the once-infamous bioweapons facility Vector, today a biotechnology research center no longer connected to the Russian defense establishment.

“DuPont is looking for natural products that may be useful as herbicides, fungicides, or insecticides,” Torok explains. “The Lab’s role is to provide knowledge of how to ‘tweak’ organisms to make them overproduce useful secondary metabolites.” From thousands of samples and distinct microbial strains, over 60 organisms of interest have been selected, resulting in several patent disclosures now being formulated. And, says Torok, “Patents are how IPP measures success.”

Extremophiles and grizzly bears

Torok’s first encounter with Kamchatka came when he spoke at the “Kamchatka 2000” workshop on extremophiles, held in Petropav-lovsk-Kamchatsky in August of that year. As their name suggests, extremophiles live on the edge: at home in boiling water, in strongly acidic or alkaline solutions, and in many other environments that would kill most living things. The enzymes and other natural products that equip them to survive are what make extremophiles potentially valuable.

A two-hour helicopter ride from Kamchatka's only city is the only way in and out of the Valley of Geysers.

It was during the conference that Torok first laid eyes on the Uzon Caldera and the Valley of Geysers, a two-hour helicopter ride from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Soon after his return to the U.S., he was writing to his academic and industrial acquaintances about Kamchatka’s potential microbial riches. “What we have found is exciting,” he wrote, “but investment is crucial.”

A second visit in 2001 overlapped Glen Dahlbacka’s get-acquainted tour of numerous IPP projects. Dahlbacka was in the field to assess logistical challenges, arrange legal matters, and especially to get to know the people on whom the day-to-day success of each project depends.

“In Kamchatka, that means the people in the Institute of Volcanology,” says Dahlbacka. “It’s through them that we arrange everything, park permits, helicopters — and armed rangers to protect us from the bears.”

A scarcity of humans means an abundance of salmon in Kamchatka’s undammed rivers; consequently the local grizzlies thrive. From the mother and cubs Torok and Dahlbacka saw sprinting through the brush when they arrived in the Uzon Calder by helicopter, to the bear Dahlbacka came face to face with a few days later, grizzlies were constant visitors.

This white culture of microorganisms grows at 97 degrees Celsius (207 degrees Fahrenheit), the temperature of boiling water in the Uzon Caldera.

Streams warmed by hot springs and geysers are the bear bait. “They come to the hot spots to warm up,” says Torok. “The dangerous times are in the evenings, when they’re hungry.” And, says Dahlbacka, “Those bears are really big” — reputedly the largest brown bears in the world.

Given Kamchatka’s potential, however, bears are a minor inconvenience. Nothing could dampen Torok and Dahlbacka’s eagerness to return.

Doing the job right

For a new IPP project Torok found a new and eager U.S. industrial partner: the Diversa Corporation of San Diego, a pioneer in applying genomic technologies developing the products of microbial genes.

Once again Vector, now known as the State Research Center for Biotechnology and Virology, will take the lead among the Russian partners. Over the years Torok has built a strong working relationship with Vladimir Repin, director of one of Vector’s six institutes, the Collection of Microbial Cultures.

Avacha, an active volcano 2,741 meters high (8,993 feet), rises just 30 kilometers from Kamchatka’s only city, Petropavlosk.

Another Russian partner is the Center for Ecological Research and Bioresources Development in Puschino, near Moscow, led by executive director Vera Dmitrieva. Torok describes the center as “one of IPP’s success stories. DOE helped start it, and it was one of the first institutions in Russia to obtain nonprofit status.”

The final, vital partner is the Institute of Volcanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. “Gennadii Karpov, the Institute’s deputy director, has studied the volcanoes there for 35 years,” says Torok. “Nobody knows the region better.”

One challenge facing the new project is providing laboratory facilities in the field. Torok explains:

“If you have organisms in a hot spring that can’t exist below 85 degrees C, you can’t move them far before they die. You have to have a lab for basic microbiology activities on the spot.” His hope is to upgrade some of the Institute of Volcanology’s dilapidated, weather-struck old buildings.

The new project’s first trip is scheduled for early next year, spending a week in the Valley of Geysers and another in Uzon Caldera. Diversa will apply unique methods of extracting genetic material from samples in the field and train the Vector team members in these proprietary techniques. They will be joined by microbiologist Dmitrieva and volcanologist Karpov. DOE and Berkeley Lab will again be represented by Torok and Dahlbacka. As usual, armed rangers will be on hand to ward off the bears.

Into the future

Kamchatka has been open to Western visitors only a dozen years; bioprospecting initiatives are still gathering steam. Nobel-Prize-winning chemist Roald Hoffmann of Cornell University is among the leading scientists who have spearheaded the movement to insure that Kamchatka remains a prime bioprospecting site.

Beyond Russia and the vast expanses of Siberia, other former republics of the USSR are actively seeking IPP partnerships to prospect for microbes in spectacular pristine environments — and plenty of spectacularly contaminated ones as well.

The undiscovered microbes that lurk in these places are the kind Torok finds most fascinating: hardy and resilient beyond imagining but potentially useful as well. Their fragile versatility offers a bridge between old enemies now struggling to find ways to be partners and friends.

Learn more about microbe hunting in Kamchatka in the forthcoming issue of Science Beat online.

Shank, Officials Visit Oak Ridge to View SNS Progress

Berkeley Lab Director Charles Shank joined DOE Secretary Abraham (left) and other dignitaries, including Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory on Friday to hear first hand about the progress of the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) construction. Berkeley Lab is part of the project team, having designed and built the SNS front-end systems.

The previous day the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the FY 2004 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, providing critical funding for the SNS.

"I am pleased the Appropriations Committee is fully funding the Spallation Neutron Source," Senator Alexander said. "It will be the premier neutron science facility in the world."

The officials took part in a groundbreaking ceremony for the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS) at ORNL, a facility dedicated to the study of nanoscale research. The facility will be built adjacent to the SNS, providing researchers ready access to the world's most powerful neutron source for samples analysis and characterization.

Orbach Praises NERSC Achievements

In his testimony before the House Committee on Science on July 16, Ray Orbach, the director of DOE's Office of Science, addressed “a subject of central importance to this nation: our need for advanced supercomputing capability.”

Orbach singled out the scientific achievements by users of NERSC for special praise. He also described a new program, INCITE (for Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment), which will allocate 4.5 million processor hours at NERSC to advance research on "four or five scientific problems of major importance." INCITE will be rolled out over the next month.

His testimony included the following remarks:

“Physicists in Berkeley, California, trying to determine whether our universe will continue to expand or eventually collapse, gather data from dozens of distant supernovae. By analyzing the data and simulating another 10,000 supernovae on supercomputers (at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, or NERSC) the scientists conclude that the universe is expanding — and at an accelerating rate.”

“I just returned from Vienna, where I was privileged to lead the U.S. delegation in negotiations on the future direction for ITER, an international collaboration that hopes to build a burning plasma fusion reactor, which holds out promise for the realization of fusion power. The United States pulled out of ITER in 1998. We're back in it in this year. What changed? What changed were simulations that showed that the new ITER design will in fact be capable of achieving and sustaining burning plasma. … In 1998 one of our computer models predicted that the ITER design would produce a burning plasma while another, based on a different approach, predicted failure. The discrepancy between the models could not be resolved with the computing power available at the time, and the uncertainty was a major reason for U.S. withdrawal. After a more powerful computer at the NERSC was installed in 2002, we were able to run the model that had predicted failure through enough iterations to demonstrate that the predicted instabilities that caused the concern in the earlier calculations stabilized over time. The resulting convergence of predictions from the two models was a major part of the scientific basis for the recent U.S. decision to join the ITER negotiations.”

“We cannot survive as the scientific, industrial, and economic development leader of the world if our scientists have to go abroad to realize the opportunities of high-end computations.

Recognizing this, the Office of Science has announced that ten percent of our National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory— now at ten teraFLOP peak speed — is going to be made available for grand challenge calculations. We are literally going to carve out 4.5 million processor hours and 100 terabytes of disk space for perhaps four or five scientific problems of major importance. We are calling this initiative INCITE — the Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment — and we expect to be ready to proceed with it around Aug. 1, 2003.”

“We will open our computational facilities to everyone. Ten percent of NERSC's capability will be available to the entire world. Prospective users do not have to have a DOE contract, or grant, or connection. Anyone will be eligible to apply. The applications will be peer reviewed, and will be judged solely on their scientific merit.

"We want to develop the community of researchers within the United States, and frankly around the world, that can take advantage of these machines and produce the results that will invigorate and revolutionize their fields of study.”
— Jon Bashor

NASA Grant Goes to Lab Scientist

Life Scientist Eleanor Blakely is among the 28 researchers selected by NASA to conduct ground-based research into space radiation biology and space radiation shielding materials. Blakely will research the early markers of space radiation-induced human cataractogenesis.
Sponsored by NASA's Office of Biological and Physical Res-earch, these projects will use the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory and the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron at Brookhaven National Laboratory. The facilities provide beams of radiation that are the same type and energy as found in space. They will be used for studies in radiation physics and biology in order to accurately predict and manage radiation risk in space.

Lab’s Alex Zettl Creates the First Nanomotor

300 Times Smaller Than the Diameter of a Human Hair

By Robert Sanders

Figure a shows a conceptual drawing of the Berkeley nanomotor, where a gold rotor (R) is attached to a multi-walled carbon nanotube which acts as a support shaft and is anchored to pads (A1, A2). Three stator electrodes, two on the SiO2 surface (S1, S2) and one buried beneath the surface (S3), provide additional voltage control elements. Figure b is a scanning electron microscope image of the nanomotor.

A team led by Berkeley Lab physicist Alex Zettl has created the first nano-sized motor — a gold rotor on a nanotube shaft that is the smallest synthetic motor ever reported.

“It’s the first nano-sized device where you can put external wires on it and have something rotating, something you can control,” says Zettl, who holds a joint appointment with Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division and the UC Berkeley Physics Department. “Nature is still a little bit ahead of us — there are biological motors that are equal or slightly smaller in size — but we are catching up.”

The nanomotor measures about 500 nanometers across, which is about 300 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. Its paddle-shaped rotor blade is about 300 nanometers in length and the carbon nanotube shaft to which the rotor blade is attached runs about 5-10 nanometers thick. All of the nanomotor’s components are integrated onto a silicon chip. The blade rotates in response to an applied voltage.

Unlike nature’s nanoscale biomotors, the nanomotor devised by Zettl and his team can operate in a vacuum and over wide frequency and temperature ranges. Possible applications for this device include optical switching, microwave oscillation, and the mixing of fluids and liquids in microfluidic devices.

“The most exciting developments may not have even been thought of, says Zettl. “Like projections in the early days of lasers and integrated circuits, no matter how visionary we try to be, we will no doubt misjudge where the most successful applications will arise.”

The Berkeley nanomotor was reported in this week’s issue (July 24, 2003) of the journal Nature. Coauthoring the paper with Zettl were Adam Fennimore, Thomas Yuzvinsky, and John Cumings, plus post-docs Wei-Qiang Han and Michael Fuhrer. Fuhrer is now with the Department of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park. Cumings is now with the Department of Physics at Stanford University.

Zettl and his team made their nanomotor from multiwalled nanotubes (MWNTs) they deposited on the flat silicon oxide surface of a silicon wafer. The best MWNTs were identified and selected from the pile with an atomic force microscope, a device capable of picking up single atoms. A gold rotor, nanotube anchors and opposing stators (stationary parts of the motor) were then simultaneously patterned around the chosen nanotubes using electron beam lithography. A third stator was already buried under the silicon oxide surface. The rotor was annealed to the nanotubes and then the surface selectively etched to provide sufficient clearance for the rotor.

With a strong electrical jolt to the stators, Zettl and his team were able to jerk the rotor and break the outer wall of the nested nanotubes, allowing the rotor to spin freely on the nested nanotube bearings. When the stators were charged with up to 50 volts of direct current, the gold rotor deflected up to 20 degrees, which was visible in a scanning electron microscope (SEM).
With alternating voltage, the rotor rocked back and forth, acting as a torsional oscillator. Such an oscillator, probably capable of microwave frequency oscillations from hundreds of megahertz to gigahertz, could be useful in many types of devices — in particular, communications devices such as cell phones or computers.

“We’ve got this incredibly neat little motor that’s smaller than any other electric motor,” says Zettl. “Let’s try to integrate it into some larger architecture where people are making microelectromechanical devices or nanoelectromechnical devices.”
Measuring the speed of the motor has proven difficult. The SEM can take pictures every 33 milliseconds, so Zettl and his team know the rotor spins or flips faster than 30 times per second.

“We assume you could go much, much faster than that, probably to the microwave frequencies common in communication networks,” Zettl said. “There’s no way we can detect that right now, but in principle the motor should be able to run that fast.”

Zettl expects to be able to reduce the size of the nanomotor even further, perhaps by a factor of five. For the moment, though, he and his team are trying to make basic quantum measurements, such as the conductance through the nanotubes and the amount of friction in the bearings.

“There are many very fundamental questions we are trying to answer,” he says.

National Academies Holds Workshop on Universities-Laboratories Collaboration

By Paul Pruess

On July 10, in the Building 66 auditorium, chairman Jerry Grossman, M.D., kicked off a National Academies workshop to explore better collaboration between universities and the national laboratories. Grossman characterized the national laboratories as “increasingly important by virtue of their wide-ranging facilities, which bring together universities, industry, and the government. You have these facilities. Others do not.”

“Berkeley Lab is UC Berkeley’s ace in the hole.”
UC Berkeley Chancellor
Robert Berdahl

For the next two days scores of managers, scientists, engineers, and other experts came together for a look at the problems faced by academic and government researchers working together, and in some cases shared workable solutions (or “best practices,” in the current jargon).

“The cyclotron was the first ‘user facility,’” said Berkeley Lab director Charles Shank, who chaired the lively opening session. “It was Ernest Lawrence’s new way of doing science, one that required teams, which caused the Radiation Laboratory on the Berkeley campus to spread into the hills” — incidentally creating the archetype and progenitor of the national laboratory system.

To illustrate that “national laboratories attack problems of scale,” Shank cited the growth of the cyclotron, from something that fit in the palm of Lawrence’s hand to the huge 184-Inch under its own dome. Such problems, said Shank, “often last longer than the life of a graduate student” — or at least longer than it takes to write a dissertation. “These facilities will often be built because of inspiration from the universities. We are deeply coupled with academia, although our roles may be different.”

Historian Robert Berdahl, UC Berkeley chancellor, noted that not only did Lawrence launch what became Berkeley Lab, his people staffed the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Rad Lab — now Lincoln Laboratory, sponsored by the Department of Defense.

Both campuses have benefited dramatically from these associations; indeed, said Berdahl, “Berkeley Lab is UC Berkeley’s ace in the hole.” Does this suggest a way to improve collaborations? Only half joking, Berdahl said, “The simple answer is to build national laboratories next to campuses.”

Michael Holland, on the staff of the White House Office of Science, Technology, and Policy staff and a late replacement for the President’s science advisor John Marburger, argued what he called Marburger’s “talking points,” namely that laboratories should clearly distinguish between “what can only be done by you” and should avoid overlapping efforts with industry and academia. “Moreover, to get a maximum return on investment, we need to facilitate the nonexperts,” Holland said. “The availability of facilities is a key argument for funding them at the federal budget level.”

Jeffrey Wadsworth, newly appointed director of Oak Ridge, said that in his experience “lab employees do seek university interactions.” Wads-worth holds a Stanford professorship, was a department manager at Lockheed Missiles and Space, and was deputy director for science and technology at Lawrence Livermore.

“When I went to Lawrence Livermore, I was surprised at its extensive university connections,” he said. “The fact that there was no university campus nearby didn’t stop Edward [Teller] from trying to build a university at the lab.”

Wadsworth named a number of collaboration problems that nevertheless need solutions. These include the difficulty university scientists sometimes have getting access to national labs; a shortage of critical skills due to uncoordinated government funding of graduate students; and the awkwardly different ways that costs, including salaries, are accounted for in government and academia.

A shortage of minority scientists and engineers and related security issues are also problems — specifically the hold on student visas imposed since 9/11, which is “starting to show a negative impact.” Wadsworth said that “50 percent of the students we’re interested in at both labs and universities are noncitizens.”

During questions and answers following this session, OSTP’s Holland was critiqued for his characterization of the national laboratories. Berkeley Lab’s deputy director for science, Pier Oddone, suggested that “saying that labs have the facilities but universities do the research is very unhealthy. Collaborations must be based on scientists talking to scientists, not somebody showing somebody how to turn a knob.”

Other pointed objections to Holland’s remarks came from university researchers. One University of Michigan scientist affirmed that “the best collaborations I have experienced have involved intellectual participation and respect on both sides.”

Holland replied that “when I’m selling a budget to my politicals, they don’t have time for intellectual arguments. A simple argument works better in D.C.”

To which Wadsworth remarked, “There’s a disconnect between how you sell stuff and the way work really gets done.” Judging by the rueful laughter, most in the audience agreed.

In subsequent presentations, panels addressed topics including incentives and structures for collaboration, research in a classified environment, and assuring a source of qualified people.

On its second day, the workshop moved to UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, concluding with reports from individual study groups. Analysis did not go deep in the short time allotted for discussion, but certain themes emerged. One was the serious effects of security regulations on foreign collaborators and students and, as one participant put it bluntly, “the need to get more of them in.”

Another was the need to think of national labs not just in terms of gigantic facilities but as partners in research with universities on all scales. And finally, as workshop chairman Grossman put it, the need to “do away with obstacles and get more money.” The committee’s written report is due in the fall.

A description of the workshop, including many PowerPoint presentations, can be found online at http:// www.lbl.gov/DIR/ULabs/index.html.

Currents Online

Each edition of Currents is published online at http://www. lbl.gov/Publications/Currents/.
The site allows users to do searches of past articles going back to 1994.

Students and Mentors Explore the World of Science

Both undergraduate and high school students come together with Lab mentors to explore the world of science thanks to a variety of programs offered by the Lab’s Center for Science and Engineering Education (CSEE)

Several research fellowships are available to undergraduates as part of the Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program: the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship program, which places students in paid science and engineering internships, the Community College Initiative program, and the Pre-Service Teacher program.

For more information on these fellowships or the High School Student Participation Program, see the CSEE website in the Lab A-Z index.

Faulty Berkeley Lamps Will Be Replaced

The manufacturer of the innovative Berkeley Lamp, developed at Berkeley Lab, has acknowledged a production flaw in the first-generation lights and has offered to replace them at no charge. Lamp inventor Michael Siminovitch of Environmental Energy Technologies said that Light Corporation has replaced an unreliable ballast with a better unit.

Lab employees who have faulty lamps may call the Work Request Center at X6274 to request a new Berkeley Lamp.

Summer Blood Drive

You can make a big difference — maybe even save a life — by taking just one hour out of your day to donate blood. And you can do it right here at Berkeley Lab.

On Aug. 6-7, the Laboratory will hold another onsite blood drive to help the American Red Cross meet its blood supply needs to serve community hospitals.

The two-day event is part of an ongoing partnership between Berkeley Lab and the American Red Cross Blood Services. Through their generous support, Lab employees have already donated 308 units of blood in FY 2002-2003, but more is needed.

The blood drive will be held in Building 70A-3377 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 6, and from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 7. The American Red Cross asks that donors make an appointment online at www.BeADonor.com. The BeADonor website has a new look. To make an appointment, start with “registration” and follow the prompts. The sponsor code is “LBL.”

If you cannot make an appointment but decide to donate the day of the blood drive, walk-ins are welcome after 10 a.m. both days.

Eligibility requirements can be found on the website. For more information, call Charlotte Bochra at X4268.

In Memoriam

Michael Goldstein

Michael Goldstein, who worked as a human resources specialist at Berkeley Lab for 11 years before leaving in 1999, died in a bicycling accident in Larkspur on July 4. He was 54.

In addition to his formal position, Goldstein was active in numerous employees’ activities at the Lab. For instance, he helped organize the Berkeley Lab Runaround, and served as judge for its annual T-shirt design contest.

An avid cyclist, he was known to ride up to 200 miles a week, and shared his biking passion with others. He was active with a group called “Trips for Kids,” where he helped lead mountain bike trips for inner city children.

Goldstein is survived by his wife Linda and daughter Sarah. A memorial service was held on July 7. Donations in his memory may be sent to Trips for Kids in San Rafael or to the Hospice of Marin.

David Ruiz

A mechanical technologist in the Engineering Division, David Ruiz passed away on May 29. He had more than 25 years of service at the Laboratory.

A memorial services was held on June 3 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Pinole.

Ruiz is survived by his parents, Rachel and Guadelupe, brother, Alberto, and sisters Theresa, Elena, Molly, and Trina.

Currents Takes Brief Summer Hiatus

Once a year the Currents staff takes a short break to regroup, plan for the next fiscal year, and consider better ways to serve our readers. As a result, the paper will take a hiatus, skipping the last issue in August.

Please consider this scheduling adjustment in case you would like to advertise an event, place an ad in the Flea Market, or contribute material for publication.

The next issue of Currents will come out as scheduled on Aug. 8. Following the hiatus, we will resume publication on Sept. 5.

Stay Cool This Summer

Indoor and outdoor temperatures at the Lab can become warm during brief periods throughout the summer and early fall months. To help stay cool during this time of year, the EH&S Division has several tips for employees

  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose clothing that allows free movement of air over the skin’s surface
  • Drink plenty of fluids and eat a light lunch
  • If you feels the onset of a heat-related condition, contact Health Services at X6266. In emergency situations, call the Fire Department at X7911.

More information on heat stress can be found in PUB 3000 and in OSHA’s fact sheet on working outdoors. You may also contact Rob Connelly in the EH&S Division at X4028 or rjconnelly@lbl.gov.

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, msfriedlander@lbl.gov

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

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

fleamarket@lbl.gov / currents_calendar@lbl.gov

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

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



‘02 HONDA ACCORD LX, white, 4 dr, 8K mi, auto, pwr win, pwr steer, remote entry, cruise, radio/cass/cd, ac, exc cond, $17,000, Yang, X2782, (925) 944-2459

‘01 HONDA CIVIC EX Sedan, 4 dr, auto, 27K mi, ac, all pwr, cruise, am/fm/ cd, dual fr airbags, fr side airbags, ABS, sliding sunrf, moonrf, $13,500/bo, Xing-jiang, X7634, XJZhou@lbl. gov, 357-2123

‘96 PLYMOUTH VOYA-GER MINIVAN, 7 pass, V6 3.0 L, at, ABS, dual air-bags, pwr lock/win, tinted glass, exc cond, 75K mi, $6,200/bo, Raz, X6595, 549-2466

‘64 FORD F-100, shortbed, auto, 292 cid eng, carb is off, rebuilt heads, can be made to run with new carb/valve adjust, $2,000/ bo, lots of parts & accessories come w /truck, 495-2280 (lv msg)


‘00 SUZUKI SV650, 12K mi, blue, exc cond, extras, tank bra, gel seat, full size bike cover w/ lock, wheel lock, riding gear, used joe rocket pants & gloves, 2 hjc helmets color-matched, ramp & tie down hooks, $4,000 incl extras, Eric, 569-2313, X6198

‘87 KAWASAKI EX 500, 30K mi, 1 owner, two crashes, forks straight, compression good, engine good, all stock, white full fairing cracked, new blk seat, age worn but good ride, good starter bike, $1,200, Kymba, X8671, 303-0379

‘86 YAMAHA RADIAN 600cc, 10K mi, always garaged, runs well, $650/bo, Sherry, X6972


ALBANY HILLS, 2 bdrm + lg downstairs rm, 1 bth, sunny, fully furn, nr Solano Ave, EC Plaza, BART, Albany Hill Park, quiet neighb, Albany schools a big plus, new stove & refrig, 1-yr lease beg 08/1, nonsmok/pets, Rick, Louise, 559-9785

ALBANY, studio inlaw cottage, $925/mo + utils, unfurn/furn if needed, 425 sq ft, sep ent & bth, 10 min walk to El Cerrito BART, bus to Berkeley, no smok, cats ok, water & garbage paid, Martin, mtremblay1@yahoo.com, Jennifer, X6186, 527-2669

BERKELEY HILLS, bay view, furn rm, 17 x15, priv bth/entr, quiet neighb nr UC/pub trans/shops, cooking facil in adj rm, pool table, workout mach, w&d, $850/mo incl linens, dishes, util, phone, DSL, TV, use of garden/BBQ, no smoking/pets, short stays, $300/wk, Carol, 524-6692

BERKELEY, furn home, gourmet ghetto area, 2 bdrm + 2 fin attic rms, 2.5 bth, priv patio, sec gate syst, skylights, hardwd flrs, 5 min walk to Lab shuttle, avail 8/9, $2,150/ mo, incl some util, 1st + sec dep to move in, nonsmok, no pets, Jampa91@ aol.com, 665-4870 eve

BERKELEY, lge house nr Claremont Hotel, porch, yard, roses & fig tree, avail Sept 7-30, close to shops, transit, UCB, 3 bdrm, 2.5 bths, no pets/no smokers, $600/wk, $550/wk for longer stay incl housekeeper, 548-2159, lrbrumer@sbcglobal.net

BERKELEY, nr UCB, lge furn 2 bdrm apt, hardwd flrs, $1,775 incl PC, DSL & some utilities, 845-5959, jin.young@ juno.com, Paul, X7363

EL CERRITO, 1 yr starting 8/1, 2 bdrm/1 bth, $500 rent, dep $3,000, nr BART & bus, walk dist to El Cerrito Plaza, Jane, X2404, 527-5516

NORTH BERKELEY fully furn 1 bdrm/1 bth, 3 blks from Lab shuttle/UCB, by week, month or semester, gfchew@mindspring.com, 848-1830

NORTH BERKELEY HILLS fully furn suite in modern house, walk to UCB, kitch-enette, amenities, can sleep 3 by week/mo, (800) 455-3863

NORTH BERKELY, avail late 8/03, 10-mo lease, fully furn, 2+ bdrms/1.5 bths, exc loc nr Solano, fp, yard, hardwd flrs, bright & charming, $2,000/mo, Prof Ryan, 527-0741

OAKLAND, rm in 3 bdrm/ 1 bth house, craftsman, nr Lake Merritt, lge liv/din rm, lge windows, harwd flr, bkfst rm w/view, nice kitchen, vintage gas oven, dishwasher, renov bth w/ dbl sinks, free w/d storage & twin bed avail, nr shopping/rest & pub trans, $750/mo, neg + ut, avail 9/1, 8/1 move in neg, ellialex@hotmail.com, 832-2624


CAR SEAT for kids under 4, clean & in good cond, $15, Yu, X7286

COUCH, 7x3 ft, off-white, corduroy-like fabic, just cleaned, $70/bo Margo, X6280

DOUBLE CHEST BED w/ six drawers, no mattress, exc cond, $25, Nancy, 525-1652
GRAND PIANO, 5'2", ebony, $4,500/bo, Duo, X6878, 528-3408,

LOVESEAT, upholstered in designer fabric, floral abstr pattern, soft rust/cream col, matching throw pillows, $200; whiteboard/ flipchart easel, $50; Danish modern student desk, somewhat marred but pretty, $30; Sansui liv rm speakers, pair, 13x23 x8, $15; airless paint sprayer, $20; RotorZip, $20, Duo Wang, X6878

OAK SOFA TABLE, $15; round dining table w/ 4 comf chairs, $150; BBQ set $10; baby back pack carrier, $20; stroller, $20; toddler car seat, $20; booster car seat, $20, Fafy, 526-5495

MASSAGE CHAIR, reclining, leather, taupe color, $1,000, Randy, X7026

TIVO DVR w/ lifetime subscription, Sony SVR 200 digital video recorder, can provide up to 30 hrs of tape free, dig recording, incl all cables, remotes, manuals, subscrip to the Tivo service, $400, Erik, X6435


HOUSESITTING by vis teacher/librarian/caregiver, will care for home, garden, pets except cats (due to allergy) for any period betw 7/25 - 9/30, local refs avail, Jeanne, X5074, 548-5829, jmmiller@lbl.gov


VANPOOL RIDERS, Fairfield/Vallejo to Berkeley, Mary, X6462


PARIS, France, near Eiffel Tower, fully furn 2 bdrm, 1bth flat in modern bldg by week or mo, 848-1830
NORTH LAKE TAHOE, Kings Beach, 3 bdrm/2bth, sleeps 6, quiet location, mile from the beach, $125/ night +$75 cleaning fee, 2 nights min, weekly rate $675, Vlad & Linda 849-1579


ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITTANICA, 1954 edition, near mint, free for the hauling; set John Galsworthy, 6 volumes incl Forsyth Saga, Tony, 6149, 531-8203

VINTAGE COMPUTER MAGAZINES Byte, 6/95 – 8/97, PC magazine 3/95 – 4/01, Dr. Dobbs, 11/01 – 7/03, pick up at north Berkeley location, John, X7732


EARRING, silver horseshoe shaped hoop earring by N3 parking lot, contact Security, X4855

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. Ads must be submitted in writing (e-mail: fleamarket@lbl.gov, fax: X6641, or mailed/delivered to Bldg. 65.

Ads run one issue only unless resubmitted, and are repeated only as space permits.

The deadline for the Aug. 8 issue is Thursday, July 31.