Today at Berkeley Lab

Archives for October 2013

Less Toxic Metabolites, More Chemical Product

Jay Keasling, Berkeley Lab’s ALD for Biosciences, led a team of researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute that developed the first dynamic regulatory system that prevents the build-up of toxic metabolites in engineered microbes during the fermentation process. This groundbreaking technique can boost production of an advanced biofuel, a therapeutic drug, or other valuable chemical products. It has already been used to double the production in E. coli of amorphadiene, a precursor to the premier antimalarial drug artemisinin. Other members of the JBEI team were Robert Dahl, Fuzhong Zhang, Jorge Alonso-Gutierrez, Edward Baidoo, Tanveer Batth, Alyssa Redding-Johanson, Christopher Petzold, Aindrila Mukhopadhyay, Taek Soon Lee and Paul Adams. More>

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Sanford Underground Lab Announces First Results from LUX

The Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, South Dakota, announced its first scientific results yesterday. Three months of operation by the LUX dark matter experiment found no WIMPs but achieved three times the sensitivity of any other dark matter detector. The Sanford Lab is owned by the state and supported by DOE but owes much to tireless efforts by Berkeley Lab scientists led by Kevin Lesko, who now oversees operations. Notables at the press conference included Governor Dennis Daugaard, James Siegrist of the Office of Science, Berkeley Lab General Sciences ALD James Symons, and Physics Division Director Natalie Roe, with many others.

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Rediscovering Long-Lost Sounds with MacArthur Genius Carl Haber

Berkeley Lab physicist Carl Haber was a recent guest on KQED radio’s Forum, hosted by Michael Krasny. Haber discussed his research that has enabled the restoration of long-lost sounds, for which he won a MacArthur Genius Award. More>

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DNA Techniques Help Compost Human Waste Into Nutrient-Rich Fertilizer

What does the coastal community of Bolinas, California have in common with the impoverished island nation of Haiti? The surprising answer is a fledgling sanitation strategy whereby human waste is composted into nutrient-rich fertilizer, all supported by research from Berkeley Lab scientist Gary Andersen. “The amount of water and energy needed to treat the combined sanitary and household waste in municipal wastewater treatment plants is simply not sustainable,” says Andersen, head of the Ecology Department in Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division. “By diverting septic waste, that saves 40 percent of the water in an average household.” More>

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ALS Hosts Science Café on Friday at Noon

Staff are invited to this month’s Advanced Light Source Science Café at noon on Friday, Nov. 1, in Bldg. 15-253. Speakers and topics include Marie Jackson (Roman Concrete), Greg Hura (DNA Labeled with Gold), and Dave Robin (Pseudo Single Bunch). The event will be moderated by ALS Director Roger Falcone. Light refreshments will be provided.

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Combining Profiling and Genomics Yields Novel Metabolites

Cyanobacteria’s ability to capture solar energy and fix CO2 holds promise for biotech applications. Joint Genome Institute and Berkeley Lab researchers studied 10 different cyanobacteria to identify their secondary metabolites — compounds produced during normal cellular metabolism not directly involved in cell growth, that may play an important role in interactions outside the cell — and the genes linked to those molecules. More>

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Open Enrollment, Napolitano UC Tour Among Stories in ‘Our University’

This month’s Our University newsletter for faculty and staff includes stories on Open Enrollment, first impressions of new president Janet Napolitano (pictured), people making a difference, and the Promise for Education campaign. Go here to read the latest issue.

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Gene Enhancers That Determine Facial Structure Identified

Axel Visel of the Genomics Division and Catia Attanasio led a study in which thousands of gene enhancers – regulatory sequences of DNA that act to turn-on or amplify the expression of a specific gene – involved in the development of the human face were identified. These craniofacial enhancers fine-tune the genetics and help explain why every human face is as unique as a fingerprint. Also contributing to the work were Alex Nord, Yiwen Zhu, Matthew Blow, Zirong Li, Denise Liberton, Harris Morrison, Ingrid Plajzer-Frick, Amy Holt, Roya Hosseini, Sengthavy Phouanenavong, Jennifer Akiyama, Malak Shoukry, Veena Afzal, Edward Rubin, David FitzPatrick, Bing Ren, Benedikt Hallgrímsson and Len Pennacchio. More>

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Bissell Featured in Trailer of Frederick Wiseman’s Film ‘At Berkeley’

Berkeley Lab Distinguished Scientist Mina Bissell is among those featured in famed documentarian Frederick Wiseman’s new film entitled “At Berkeley.” She is featured at 5:18 in the trailer above, which was filmed during her talk at the Lab’s 2010 Open House. The film will be shown locally at the Roxie Theater in San Francsico and the Elmwood Theater in Berkeley for one-week run starting Dec. 6. Check with the theaters for specific screening times. More>

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EETD’s Walker, Dickerhoff, and Lutz Get DOE Building America Award

The Department of Energy has recognized Berkeley Lab with a 2013 Building America Housing Innovation award in the area of advanced technologies and practices for its development of a high-efficiency furnace blower. The project team consisted of Iain Walker, Darryl Dickerhoff and Jim Lutz of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division. More>

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