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Berkeley Lab Scientists Receive Prestigious Five-Year Research Grant

The Department of Energy awards support early career scientists with plans for innovative research

Early Career Research Program 2022 awards

From left: Benjamin Nachman, Marlene Turner, and Antoine Wojdyla are among 83 scientists from across the nation to receive significant funding for research through the DOE Office of Science Early Career Research Program.

Three scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science to receive funding through the Early Career Research Program (ECRP). In addition, three faculty scientists with joint appointments at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley will receive ECRP funding through their UC Berkeley affiliations.

“Supporting talented researchers early in their career is key to fostering scientific creativity and ingenuity within the national research community,” said DOE Office of Science Director Asmeret Asefaw Berhe. “Dedicating resources to these focused projects led by well-deserved investigators helps maintain and grow America’s scientific skill set for generations to come.”

The Office of Science selected 83 scientists from across the nation to receive significant funding for research as part of DOE’s Early Career Research Program (27 from labs and 56 from universities).

The program, now in its 13th year, is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the first 10 years following their Ph.D., when many scientists do their most formative work.

Under the program, researchers based at DOE national laboratories will receive grants for $500,000 per year, and university-based researchers will receive grants for $150,000 per year. The research grants are planned for five years and will cover salary and research expenses.

This year’s Berkeley Lab awardees and their projects are listed below:

Benjamin Nachman – a staff scientist in the Physics Division and a member of the ATLAS Collaboration at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) – specializes in developing machine learning algorithms to enhance data analysis in high energy physics. His ECRP project, “Allowing Collider Data to Tell Their Own Story with Deep Learning,” will design and deploy novel artificial intelligence and machine learning methods to automatically identify anomalies in collider data which could point to new evidence for dark matter and other new particles.

Marlene Turner is a research scientist in the Accelerator Technology & Applied Physics Division working on high-energy electron acceleration in laser-driven plasma wakefields and the next generation of particle colliders. High-energy physics particle colliders enable scientific discoveries and allow us to probe the fundamental building blocks of the universe. However, one of the limits on their scientific reach is the tremendous electrical power needed to operate them. Turner’s ECRP project, “Energy Recycling for a Green Plasma Based Collider,” develops a path toward significantly decreasing the energy consumption of future colliders, which would also reduce their operation costs.

Antoine Wojdyla is a research scientist at the Advanced Light Source who led the design of future beamlines for the Advanced Light Source Upgrade (ALS-U) project. He has also developed novel coherent imaging techniques for EUV lithography. His ECRP project, “DREAM beam: Diffraction-limited Radiation Enhancement with Adaptive Mirrors for X-ray coherent beamlines,” aims to enable high-speed, real-time X-ray studies to enrich our understanding of physical phenomena in new materials for microelectronics, quantum devices, or batteries.

Additionally, faculty scientists Matt Pyle, Physics Division; Daniel Stolper, Earth & Environmental Sciences Area; and Michael Zaletel, Materials Sciences Division, received Early Career awards through their UC Berkeley affiliations:

  • Pyle, an assistant professor of physics, received the award for his project, “Developing TES with Sensitivity to meV Scale Excitations for Light Mass Dark Matter Searches and other Applications.”
  • Stolper, an assistant professor of earth and planetary science, received the award for work in “Stable hydrogen isotopes as tracers of H2 reactivity during geological storage.”
  • And Zaletel, an assistant professor of physics, received the award for research on “Quantum simulation and state preparation for two-dimensional materials.”

complete list of this year’s ECRP awardees is available on the Office of Science website.

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Founded in 1931 on the belief that the biggest scientific challenges are best addressed by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its scientists have been recognized with 13 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable energy and environmental solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists from around the world rely on the Lab’s facilities for their own discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multiprogram national laboratory, managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit energy.gov/science.