Diatoms do so much for us already – they’re the base of the oceans’ food chains and take up 20% of the planet’s carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. But biologist Setsuko Wakao thinks they’d be great at another job too: acting as tiny sponges to store toxic or useful metals using the molecule structure of their gorgeous shells.

Bioscientist Anne Villacastin is using genetics to supercharge the growing power of sorghum, a cereal plant that humans have been cultivating for millennia. By adding genes from wheat, Villacastin and her colleagues at the Joint BioEnergy Institute are making sorghum strains that grow tall and robust with very little water, so farmers can produce large quantities of the crop at low cost and low environmental impact. In the near future, this sorghum could bolster global food supplies and serve as a carbon source for the production of affordable biofuels, which can help mitigate fossil-fuel driven climate change.

Elaine Pegoraro is looking underfoot for answers to questions about the atmosphere above. The postdoctoral researcher is studying whether soil organisms in grasslands react to increasing temperatures by storing more carbon or releasing more carbon. This work will help us understand the planet’s future carbon balance.

Ecologist and environmental informatics researcher Joan Damerow is using interdisciplinary data to help accelerate environmental systems science. She’s working with the scientific community to build data management practices and tools needed to integrate and reuse datasets gathered by scientists around the world, to easily share findings and put that information to work.

Chemical engineer Peng Peng is helping develop a 100% renewable energy grid by investigating new materials for storing hydrogen gas, which can be used like a battery to stash power generated from solar and wind farms. Peng uses computer models to study how lab-scale material prototypes would perform at the industrial scale, and how much they would cost – accelerating the green hydrogen movement from discovery to deployment.

Plants may look simple, but there is a complex universe of cellular activity going on inside their roots, shoots, and leaves. And we humans have a lot more to learn. Biologist Benjamin Cole is digging into a new frontier of plant science that combines advanced genetic techniques, computer modeling, and real world experiments to study plant cells’ sophisticated interactions and make new discoveries about the species that we rely on for food, fuel, and health.

Berkeley Lab Research Scientist Marlene Turner shares how plasma wakefield acceleration can help us in our everyday lives.

Berkeley Lab Research Scientist Michael Whittaker develops tools and methods to view mineral resources in new ways, zooming in to the level of atoms to inspire ideas that will help transition towards sustainable extraction of critical elements like lithium.

Berkeley Lab Research Scientist Mariam Kiran uses deep reinforcement learning and innovative multi-objective optimization techniques to train network controllers to predict network traffic and improve traffic engineering.

Research Scientist and Deputy Director of Host Engineering at the Joint BioEnergy Institute Thomas Eng is using the gene editing tool CRISPR to create a more sustainable plastic.

Project Scientist Lauren Lui is using the latest bioinformatics technology to study the genes of these immensely bountiful and diverse microbes so we can learn how they shape the environment — and how we could harness them for agriculture, medicine, and more.

Tess Smidt is a physicist and computer scientist developing machine learning algorithms that can model the complex geometry of the universe, from atomic arrangements to building designs.

Berkeley Lab Research Scientist Jason Cooper talks about the process of artificial photosynthesis and how it’s used to convert sunlight into liquid chemical fuels.

Berkeley Lab Postdoc Researcher Mekena Metcalf is a quantum wrangler who develops computer software and theory to control quantum systems with electromagnetic waves.

Berkeley Lab Postdoc Researcher Jonelle Basso is getting to the root of plant-microbe interactions, which can lead to more efficient and sustainable crops that produce food, plant-based biofuels, and bioproducts.

Berkeley Lab Research Scientist Sean Lubner is studying materials that can help better store renewable energy to power large-scale systems.

Natalia Molchanova, a scientific engineering associate at the Molecular Foundry, works on synthetically produced proteins called peptoids, which have advanced low-cost biotech solutions.

Berkeley Lab Project Scientist Jennifer Pore talks about how research in superheavy elements and isotopes can help us better understand the universe.