Today at Berkeley Lab

iCLEM: An Atypical Summer Job for Bay Area High School Students

Eight Bay Area high school students are participating in this summer’s iCLEM program, earning money and gaining “college knowledge” while conducting bioenergy research in the state-of-the-art scientific laboratories of the Joint BioEnergy Institute. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

Lab Wins Three 2014 R&D 100 Awards

Winners include a fast way to analyze the chemical composition of cells, genetic tools to improve crops, and a bioinformatics platform for screening 3-D cell culture models. The technologies could lead to advances in biofuels, food crops, drug screening, and biomaterials, and to a better understanding of microbial communities. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

JBEI GT Collection: A New Resource for Advanced Biofuels Research

Specifically targeted for the study of plant cell wall biosynthesis, collection is expected to better enable manipulation of plant cell walls for biofuel production. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

Jay Keasling Wins 2014 Eni Award’s Renewable Energy Prize

Honor recognizes his achievements in microbial production of hydrocarbon fuels. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

Joint BioEnergy Institute Names New Chief Science and Technology Officer

The Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) CEO Jay Keasling announced that Blake Simmons will be the new Chief Science and Technology Officer (CSTO). “We are thrilled that Blake has agreed to take on this new role,” said Keasling. Simmons, who joined JBEI in 2006 as Vice President of the Deconstruction Division, will continue as Senior Manager of the Biofuels & Biomaterials Science and Technology Department at Sandia National Laboratories. Simmons takes over from Harvey Blanch, who retired after serving as CSTO since 2007. “With my colleagues,” said Simmons, “I look forward to creating an atmosphere that enables innovation and will lead to exciting technology and business opportunities.” More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

Pollan’s Dilemma: Ronald’s Scuba Rice and G.M.O. Papayas

Pam Ronald, a UC Davis plant geneticist who directs the Grass Genetics program for the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), is featured in New Yorker magazine about her participation in a classroom debate with famed author and UC Berkeley journalism professor Michael Pollan about the use of G.M.O.s (genetically modified organisms) as food. Pollan, a highly vocal skeptic, invited Ronald to make the case for G.M.O.s in his Edible Education class. As examples of G.M.O. success, Ronald could point to her own development of “scuba rice” that can grow in the often flooded fields of Bangladesh and India, and a banana resistant to a disease that has decimated crops in East Africa. “I’ll give you the papaya,” Pollan conceded on a G.M.O. papaya that saved Hawaii’s industry. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

JBEI Hosts Students as Part of STEM Career Awareness Day 2014

The Joint BioEnergy Institute was one of several institutions who partnered with the Institute for STEM Education at CSU East Bay to hold the annual STEM Career Awareness Day for 160 local high school students and teachers (Berkeley, Emery, Castlemont, and Skyline High Schools) on April 11. The event provided participants an inside look at East Bay science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. JBEI researchers Emilie Rennie (second from left), Pouya Javidpour (far left), and Sarah Rodriguez (right) were on hand to talk with students and teachers about potential career paths, answer questions about their educational backgrounds as well as showcase JBEI’s innovation and technology. (Pictured second from right is Azure Stewart of CSU East Bay.)

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

What About BOB? Keasling Leads Bid for Berkeley Open Biofoundry

Jay Keasling, ALD for Biosciences, and Mary Maxon, who heads strategic planning and development for Biosciences, are spearheading a proposal to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) called BOB – for Berkeley Open Biofoundry. If successful, this proposal would create a new type of user facility in which industrial, academic, and government stakeholders will have access to engineered biological systems, including microbes, plants and tissues, at all stages of the engineering process, including design, building, testing and learning. BOB recently passed a crucial first test when DARPA awarded the Lab $1.5 million to proceed with a “Task Area 1” (TA1) design and study phase. The Lab submitted the BOB proposal in partnership with four private corporations, Amyris, Agilent, Lockheed Martin and 20n Labs. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

JBEI Researchers Engineer Resistance to Ionic Liquids in Biofuel Microbes

Michael Thelen, Thomas Ruegg and Blake Simmons of the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), led the identification of the genetic origins of a resistance to ionic liquids found in a tropical rainforest microbe. This genetic mechanism was then successfully introduced into a strain of E. coli that’s been engineered to produce advanced biofuels. Ionic liquids are used to make cellulosic biomass digestible for the E.coli but have had to be completely removed prior to fermentation because of toxicity. Ionic liquid resistance eliminates this bottleneck. Also contributing to this research were Eun-Mi Kim, Jay Keasling, Steven Singer and Taek Soon Lee. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

Physical Bioscientist Dominique Loqué Wins ASPB’s Robert Rabson Award

Dominique Loqué — a member of the Physical Biosciences Division who directs the cell wall engineering program for the Joint BioEnergy Institute Feedstocks Division — has been selected as this year’s winner of the Robert Rabson Award by the American Society of Plant Biology. Loqué was recognized for his contributions to bioenergy research through the genetic engineering of healthy plants whose lignocellulosic biomass can more easily be broken down into simple sugars for the production of advanced biofuels. Working with the model plant, Arabidopsis, and using the tools of synthetic biology, Loqué is developing ways to reduce the production of lignin while increasing the yield of fuel sugars in plant cell walls. For more about Loqué’s research, go here.

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.