Five scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science to receive significant funding for research through its Early Career Research Program.

The program, now in its eighth year, is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work. The five Berkeley Lab recipients are among a total of 59 recipients selected this year, including 21 from DOE’s national laboratories, chosen from a competitive review of about 700 proposals.

The scientists are each expected to receive grants of up to $2.5 million over five years to cover year-round salary plus research expenses.

This year’s Berkeley Lab awardees and their projects and nominating program offices are listed below.

(Credit: Berkeley Lab)

Nick Bouskill is a Research Scientist and environmental microbiologist in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Area. His award is for “microbial environmental feedbacks and the evolution of soil organic matter,” selected by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research.

Bouskill will conduct field and laboratory experiments and computational modeling to understand the role of microbial communities in stabilizing soil organic matter under different water availability conditions in tropical soils. The results of this project will increase our understanding of the effects that microbes have on the global geochemical and nutrient cycles. For more on his work go here.

Qiang Du is an electronics research scientist in the Engineering Division. His award is for “Scalable control of multidimensional coherent pulse addition for high average power ultrafast lasers,” selected by the Office of High Energy Physics.

Working with the Accelerator Technology and Applied Physics Division of Berkeley Lab, Du will design, build, and demonstrate a scalable distributed digital stabilization control system for robust multidimensional coherent combining of ultrafast fiber lasers, and make it available as a general toolbox in ultrafast optics control. High average power ultrafast lasers are essential tools that support fundamental science and applications.

Mariam Kiran is a Network Engineer for the Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), a DOE Office of Science user facility managed by Berkeley Lab. Her award is for “large-scale deep learning for intelligent networks” selected by the Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research.

Kiran is exploring algorithms from computer science, particularly machine learning and parallelization, to investigate how these can be coupled with networks to automate optimization and healing. She will develop a new family of techniques that can optimize traffic paths for diverse science workflows dynamically. For more on her work go here, and for a recent interview with her go here.

Charlie Koven is a Research Scientist in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Area who focuses on Earth systems. His award is for “Vegetation dynamical responses to multivariate extremes in the Western US,” selected by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research.

Koven seeks to better understand the role of climate extremes, particularly high temperature and reduced precipitation, on shaping ecosystem-level responses and feedbacks to climate change via changes to vegetation, such as forest mortality. For more on his work go here.

Neslihan Taş Baas is a Research Scientist and environmental microbial ecologist in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Area. Her award is for “Awakening the sleeping giant: Multi-omics enabled quantification of the microbial controls on biogeochemical cycles in permafrost ecosystems,” selected by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research.

Taş Baas will use field experiments, laboratory manipulations, and multi‐ omics approaches to examine how microbial processes, biogeochemical transformations, and hydrology interact during permafrost thaw in different sites in Alaska in order to determine how these factors drive biogeochemical cycles in different Arctic soils. For more on her work go here.

Additionally, Lin Lin, a Faculty Scientist in the Computational Research Division of Berkeley Lab, and Eric Neuscamman, a scientist in the Lab’s Chemical Sciences Division, received Early Career awards through UC Berkeley.

To be eligible, no more than 10 years can have passed between the year the researcher’s PhD was awarded and the year of the deadline for the proposal. They must also be full-time, permanent, or non-postdoc employees.

For more information on all the winners and the award, go here.