Today at Berkeley Lab

How Sweet It is: New Tool for Sugar Transport Developed

JBEI researchers have developed a powerful new assay that enables scientists to identify and characterize the function of nucleotide sugar transporters, critical components in the biosynthesis of plant cell walls. More>

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JBEI Hosts National Student Leadership Conference

Select group of high school students chosen to participate in fast-paced, high-level, interactive summer session. JBEI hosted 76 of these kids on July 22. More>

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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>

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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>

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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>

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Jay Keasling Wins 2014 Eni Award’s Renewable Energy Prize

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

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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>

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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>

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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.)

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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>

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