A contingent of Berkeley Lab user facility staff and collaborators led by Head of Federal Government Relations Don Medley and Molecular Foundry Senior Communications & Outreach Specialist Branden Brough met with Congressional Representatives and their staff and participated in the 4th Annual National User Facility Organization (NUFO) Science Expo. The other members of the Berkeley Lab group included the UC Davis-based USDA researcher and ALS user Andrew McElrone, the DOE Joint Genome Institute’s David Gilbert and Sarah Richardson; Molecular Foundry’s Promita Chakraborty, NERSC’s David Skinner; and NCEM’s Peter Ercius. The Congressional office visits included discussions with Representatives John Garamendi (California’s 3rd District), Jared Huffman (California’s 2nd District) and Jerry McNerney (California’s 9th District), as well as meeting with staff from the offices of Senator Dianne Feinstein (California) and Representatives Ken Calvert (California’s 42nd District), Darrell Issa (California’s 49th District), Zoe Lofgren (California’s 19th District), Nancy Pelosi (California’s 12th District) and Eric Swalwell (California’s 15th District).
Hosted by the U.S. House of Representatives’ Science and National Labs Caucus, the Expo was held June 10 in the Rayburn House Office Building where the group led participants in hands-on science demonstrations of the capabilities found at Berkeley Lab’s user facilities. These included high-resolution computed tomography to gain a better understanding of a grapevine’s water transport system (ALS), sourcing novel enzymes from fungi to expedite biomass breakdown for biofuels (JGI in collaboration with the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory at PNNL), exploring protein folding and unfolding with precision physical models of polypeptides (The Molecular Foundry), harnessing supercomputing to improve lithium-ion batteries (NERSC), and electron tomography for three-dimensional analysis of nano-structures (NCEM). The National User Facility (NUFO) represents the interests of all users who conduct research at U.S. national scientific user facilities, as well as scientists from U.S. universities, laboratories, and industry who use similar facilities outside the United States. Its primary mission is to facilitate communication among users, user organizations, facility administrators, and other stakeholders on topics of importance to the facilities. NUFO is comprised of 48 facilities (six from Berkeley Lab), of which more than 40 were represented at the Capitol Hill event.