Today at Berkeley Lab

Director’s Message on Advances in Building Next-Gen Science Facilities

Dear colleagues,

It has been my privilege to serve as Director of this great laboratory for two years as of this week. Together we continue to deliver world-class research and scientific solutions that address some of the nation’s most important problems. We also have made significant advances in building the next generation of major scientific facilities here.

For example, the project team has made excellent progress on the Advanced Light Source Upgrade (ALS-U), which will ensure that we are able to operate one of the world’s most capable x-ray facilities for ALS users for another 25 years. The ALS-U team is preparing to submit their Conceptual Design Report and to receive a CD-1 review of the project this summer. The DOE’s FY 19 budget request submitted to Congress last week (https://energy.gov/budget-performance) lists it as one of “the next generation of scientific facilities and tools” within the $5.4 billion request for the Office of Science. Things are going to be moving very quickly on this project over the next year.

I am also very pleased to see the progress on the construction of the Integrative Genomics Building, which you see rising in the center of the Laboratory’s main site. We are very much looking forward to completing that building in FY 19, so that the Joint Genome Institute can move into its new home and join our other national user facilities.

We also are entering a very exciting time for our High Energy Physics programs, as both LZ (dark matter particle search) and DESI (dark energy spectroscopic survey) are passing the peak of construction activity and preparing for assembly and installation. As we saw in a recent Lab press release, the Mayall Telescope in Arizona has already been shut down to remove the old equipment and prepare for DESI installation. And in South Dakota, a renovation of the Sanford Underground Research Facility started four weeks ago to clear the Davis cavern for the installation of LZ, with its 10 tons of liquid xenon.

These are just a few of the most visible examples of our preparations for the future of research at Berkeley Lab. We are accomplishing our mission of doing important science at the highest level. As a result of this high performance, we are being supported to build major new facilities that will be used for great discoveries in the future.

Although we are still operating within the framework of a continuing resolution for FY 18, Congress has agreed on numbers for the total budget for this year and next. You can follow the very complicated evolution of the budget process at the American Institute of Physics’ Federal Science Budget Tracker. It is expected that Congress will soon be able to pass an FY 18 omnibus appropriations bill that reflects the recent budget agreement spending caps and with FY 17 enacted appropriations as a starting place.

For FY 19, the Budget Tracker also shows the numbers from the recently released President’s Budget Request. Here is the DOE FY 19 Budget Request. The House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees will start considering this request along with their bills for FY 19 as soon as they complete work on the FY 18 omnibus appropriations bill. This process will take several months, and we will share updates with you as new information becomes available.

Best regards,
Mike