Today at Berkeley Lab

Archives for February 2011

Chemistry ‘Genius’ Named Head of Scripps Research

[San Diego Union-Tribune] A chemistry “genius” whose work led to better ways of preventing people from dying of low blood pressure will be the next president of The Scripps Research Institute, one of the pillars of the county’s biomedical industry. Michael Marletta, chair of chemistry at UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab physical bioscientist, will replace Richard Lerner, who has led the institute for 25 years. Scripps Research has tripled in size during that time and pulls in more than $330 million a year for research. More>

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Help Raise Awareness of Lab and Its Research at Cal Day

Scientists who’d like to share information about their research, or support staff who want to help raise awareness of Berkeley Lab, are invited to participate in Cal Day — UC Berkeley’s open house — on Saturday, April 16. The Lab’s booth will showcase the global reach of our research, from weighing neutrinos in Hong Kong to testing wind turbines in Russia. We’ll have Darfur and Ethiopian stoves on hand, as well as PhyloChips, which helped researchers assess the damage of the Gulf oil spill. We’ll also promote Lab scientists presenting Cal Day talks. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with shifts running about one to two hours. Send e-mail here to sign up.

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Situational Awareness During an Emergency May Save a Life

Do you know what you are expected to do during an emergency, who has first aid or CPR training on your floor, or where emergency supplies are stored? To help answer these questions, consider taking the All Hazards Awareness online course (EHS-135) or registering for a First Aid (EHS-116) and Adult CPR (EHS-123) class. Staff should also be aware that 22 rescue boxes are located throughout the Lab containing essential emergency supplies. Building Emergency Teams are trained in the use of these boxes. Visit the EH&S Emergency Services website for more information on these and other services, or contact your Building Manager. And mark your calendars for Emergency Preparedness Week, May 16-20. Additional details will appear in TABL as the date nears.

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Deadline for 2010 Flexible Spending Account Purchases is March 15

The HR Benefits Group would like to remind employees that they must make purchases using their 2010 Flexible Spending Account funds by March 15. Reimbursement requests and supporting documentation must be received by April 15. The FSA is a use-it-or -lose it account, so act quickly, or you will forfeit your money. To obtain detailed account information, participants should log in to their accounts at, or call CONEXIS (800-482-4120).

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Ombuds Service Helps Employees With Work-Related Conflict

Employees who face work-related conflict — such as disputes, interpersonal difficulties with colleagues, subordinates or supervisors, preparing for a difficult conversation, harassment, cultural misunderstandings, bureaucratic frustrations, or incivility — can utilize the Lab’s Ombuds Service. The ombuds provides assistance that is confidential, informal, neutral and independent of the Lab’s administrative structure. The video features Lab Ombuds Sara Thacker.

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An Intimate Portrait of Jay Keasling on NOVA’s scienceNOW

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Berkeley Lab’s Jay Keasling is profiled in a segment on NOVA’s “scienceNOW” program for the episode titled “What’s The Next Big Thing?” Keasling explains to program host Neil deGrasse Tyson how the tools of synthetic biology that helped him create an inexpensive microbial-based means of producing the antimalarial drug artemisinin are now being used at the Joint BioEnergy Institute to create new advanced biofuels for replacing gasoline. The interview is an intimate and highly informative look at Keasling and his work. The video will start after a brief promotion for a PBS program.

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Lab Scientist’s Gulf Oil Spill Research Spotlighted at AAAS

Earth scientist Terry Hazen led a headline-grabbing study last summer of microbial activity within the oil plume that formed after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. He was in the media spotlight again at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In addition to giving a scientific talk, Hazen participated in a press conference during which he explained that his findings, which showed that microbes degraded the oil plume to virtually undetectable levels within a few weeks after the damaged wellhead was sealed, do not necessarily contradict the findings by others that oil from the spill persists on the bottom of the Gulf.

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Fighting Cancer Across the Disciplines

[Science Matters] Berkeley Lab biophysicist and UC Berkeley professor Jan Liphardt believes that a new, multidisciplinary approach to understanding fundamental aspects of cancer is key to making progress in the ongoing war against this disease. As director of the new $15 million Bay Area Physical Sciences-Oncology Center, one of 12 such centers funded by the National Cancer Institute, Liphardt is in position to have a significant impact on this national effort. More>

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Lab Expert Comments on Dangers of Cell Phones on NBC Nightly News

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NBC News science reporter Robert Bazell interviewed Robert Cahn of the Physics Division about a recent claim, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, that cell phone use causes an increase in the brain’s uptake of glucose. Cahn is a well-known skeptic of such claims, noting in a well-known Op-Ed piece for the San Francisco Chronicle published in 2000 that the “feeble photons” from cell phones not only can’t disrupt an atom’s electrons, as for example a sunburn does, but what’s more, “the only label they need is: Do not use when operating a moving vehicle.”

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In Memoriam: Stu Loken (1943-2011)

Go here to read a full obituary for Stewart (Stu) Loken, who passed away last Saturday at age 68 after battling cancer. The Canadian native and former deputy director of the Physics Division worked for Berkeley Lab for 37 years.

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