Increased funding for science programs at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in recent years has meant more jobs and more research projects. But it has also meant less space. With office and laboratory space becoming increasingly tight and some 20 percent of its staff and facilities already off-site in leased facilities, Berkeley Lab has decided to look off-site for a long-term solution to its space crunch.
Under the mentorship of Berkeley Lab nuclear scientist Azriel Goldschmidt, Abdel Bachri and his physics students at Southern Arkansas University are helping in the hunt for the neutrino-less double decay, one of the rarest decays in nature. Many top scientific teams around the world are on the hunt to confirm this phenomenon, which would demonstrate that physicists’ standard model of particles is incomplete and will very likely bring a Nobel Prize to the winning team. They are participants in the Faculty and Student Teams (FaST) program, one of more than a dozen educational and internship programs offered by Berkeley Lab’s Center for Science and Engineering Education.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Director Paul Alivisatos has placed a renewed emphasis on the Lab being a good neighbor in the Berkeley community. As part of this effort, the Lab formed a Community Advisory Group (CAG) earlier this year to provide input on the Lab’s physical planning and development, focusing primarily on community health, safety and the environment.
iCLEM, which stands for Introductory College Level Experience in Microbiology, is a program that provides paid internships to underserved Bay Area high school students, giving them a chance to participate in actual scientific research while gaining experience in numerous college preparation activities and earning money.
Preston Jordan is Berkeley Lab’s resident expert on the site’s geology—and a highly sought-after one, given the nagging concerns in the area over earthquakes and landslides. “Slope stability is a concern at the Lab, though it’s a concern just as it is anywhere in the Berkeley Hills,” he says. “It’s not a unique concern.”
Emily Chen still vividly remembers the lecture on gecko feet. She was an eighth grader attending Berkeley Lab’s Nano*High program to hear materials scientist Arun Majumdar explain how what he was learning about gecko feet might translate into a new adhesive product based on carbon nanotubes. Many students come away from a Berkeley Lab summer internship—or just a weekend lecture—infected by the scientists’ passion for their work and with a sharper focus on their own academic and career path.
Berkeley Lab is partnering with Oakland Technical High School and El Cerrito High School in their Green Academies. Beginning this fall, students and their teachers will be able to take lab tours, hear talks by Berkeley Lab scientists and eventually, some will have eight-week summer internships.