I enjoyed the chance to talk with many of you on Tuesday about the State of the Lab. The primary message I wanted to convey is that the success of Berkeley Lab – past, present, and future – is due to the remarkably talented people who work here.
At the start of the talk I said that we work closely with the Department of Energy to plan and carry out our scientific mission. I would like to talk a little bit more about what that means, specifically about all of the discussions we have had with the Department just over the last three weeks.
On July 15, I presented the Annual Laboratory Plan to the Undersecretary of Energy for Science and Energy Franklin Orr, the Director and Deputy Director of the Office of Science Cherry Murray and Patricia Dehmer, and the broad leadership of the Office of Science. I was joined by our Deputy Director, Horst Simon, and the Laboratories’ Associate Lab Directors, Susan Hubbard, Jay Keasling, Glenn Kubiak, Ramamoorthy Ramesh, Horst Simon, James Symons and Kathy Yelick, in addition to Kim Budil, the University of California Vice President for Lab Management. Paul Golan, DOE’s Berkeley Site Office manager, also participated. This represents a unique opportunity to have a full discussion of the Lab’s future opportunities and challenges with all of the senior stakeholders. As I said during my talk last week, the DOE gave us very positive feedback on our programs, rating many of our research activities as world-leading or best-in-class and offering strong support for our Lab-wide initiatives.
Then on July 26-27, I attended two meetings at the DOE’s Forrestal Building with all of the other Lab directors in the DOE system. For the first day, Cherry Murray and Pat Dehmer met with the directors of the ten labs managed by the Office of Science. On July 27, all 17 lab directors across the department met all day with the Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and the Deputy Director Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall. The primary topic at these meetings was how to integrate the laboratories more closely into a network of laboratories working together to carry out the research and development that is central to the department’s mission. We also discussed how the laboratories could serve to integrate the separate parts of the DOE’s research mission, from basic to applied research, and transitioning technologies to industry. We, the DOE laboratories, talked about what helps us to carry out more effectively our unique role in the government-university-industry research enterprise.
Finally, Cherry Murray visited the Lab on Aug. 3, the day after I talked to all of you about the state of the lab. Scientific leaders from across the lab engaged her in detailed discussions of key research initiatives, including exascale computing, biomanufacturing, subsurface science, novel accelerators, and the M2B initiative. Murray also toured the Advanced Light Source and Molecular Foundry as part of a deep dive into the research programs here. It was a terrific opportunity to discuss with her the full range of research opportunities we are pursuing, and Murray had very lively exchanges with all of the scientists throughout the day.
As you can see from the number and depth of these discussions, the Department of Energy is working very closely with us and the other laboratories as we plan and carry out our research. This represents an even closer conversation between the Department and the labs than when I was director of Fermilab about 15 years ago. The DOE leadership represents our research programs to the federal government, so it is essential that they have a deep understanding of our present research and our plans for the future. This stronger connection makes us more effective at bringing science solutions to the world.