Berkeley Lab

NPA Annual Meeting 2017

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory was represented for the first time at the National Postdoc Association Annual Meeting that was held in San Francisco, on March 17-19th, 2017.

Four postdocs, members of the Berkeley Lab Postdoc (co-chairs Tetiana Shalapska, Antoine Wojdyla, Valentine Trotter, and treasurer Hang Deng) presented the results of one year of efforts to build a postdoc association from the ground up.

BLPA poster at the NPA Annual Meeting

All participants had a great time talking with their peers from other labs and university, learning best practices and building collaborations to enhance the experience of their fellow postdocs :

While it is a bit unsettling to find so many attendees with the feeling of uncertainty as post-docs, it is encouraging to see increasing amount of resources and efforts being dedicated to improving post-doc experiences by postdoc associations and/or postdoc offices in different institutions.

says Hang Deng, treasurer of the postdoc association and part of the EESA division.


BLPA career seminar: Insight Data Science

Great crowd at Berkeley Lab to hear former postdocs talk about their transition to data science through the the Insight Data Science Fellows Program:

  • Kathy Copic is the VP of Growth at Insight Data Science, where she works on expanding Insight to new locations. Before that, she worked in Experimental Particle Physics at labs including CERN, Fermilab, SLAC, Lawrence Berkeley, and Brookhaven. She earned her Ph.D. in Physics at the University of Michigan, was a post-doc in the same field at Columbia, and worked as a Staff Scientist at Berkeley National Lab before starting at Insight.
  • Jeffrey Silverman is a Data Scientist at Samba TV where he uses big data to figure exactly how many people are really watching Westworld. He is a graduate of the Insight Data Science Program (class of 16C). Before that, Jeff was an astrophysics postdoc at the University of Texas at Austin where he studied exploding stars. He earned his PhD at UC Berkeley working exploding stars and dark energy with the Filippenko group on campus and the Nugent group at LBNL.
  • Joel Swenson is a Program Director at Insight Data Science, where he leads the Health Data Science Program in San Francisco. Previously he studied nuclear organization and epigenomics. He earned his Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley and was a post-doc at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab before joining Insight.
  • Matt George leads the data science team at Airware, a commercial drone startup in San Francisco. Previously he worked at Square in data science and software engineering roles, and completed a fellowship at Insight Data Science. He earned a Ph.D. in astrophysics at UC Berkeley, working with the cosmology group at LBL.

Joel Swenson, Jeffrey Silverman, Matt George and Kathy Copic presenting Insight Data fellowship program at Berkeley Lab

Photos are available here.

forum@MSD – novel photonic structures

We were thrilled to host the second event of out forum@MSD series, were we talked about novel photonic structures (the first event was about topological insulators).

This event was introduced by Xiang Zhang (, who does a lot of work around very strange and cool interactions between matter and light — like parity-time symmetry breaking and anti-lasers –that got him many awards recently (A.C. Eringen Medal, Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics)

The presenters were postdocs Chad Ropp and Nicolas Bachelard, who presented different aspects of their research in non-equilibrium/dissipative structures for adaptive photonic and acoustic bandgap devices.

They both engaged a really interesting conversation with the attendees, who learned new experimental tricks and were able to give them feedback and ideas to move forward.

Pictures of the event are available here.

Young researchers visit the inside of the ALS

The Advanced Light Source, Berkeley Lab’s synchrotron, is currently under scheduled maintenance, and the core of the facility is accessible, thanks to the absence of harmful radiations when not in operation.

Inside the ALS

A series of Berkeley lab postdocs and young researchers were allowed to tour the inside of the facility, learning about the physics behind the accelerator on the spot, with a close look at the electron gun, the booster ring and the storage ring.

A younger crowd

The careful and illuminating explanations where provided by Banda, ALS’ Operations Deputy, who acknowledged the difficulties and tremendous work of the technicians who are essential to keep the soft X-ray beam running, with an uptime over 98%

The synchrotron, explained by its director of operation Banda

The ALS is staged for a major upgrade, ALS-U which recently received CD-zero approval. This will propel it into the Generation IV category of light sources, dubbed Diffraction-Limited Storage Ring (DLSR), effectively reaching  the very limit of physical optics and enabling whole capabilities of research.

ALS-U will enable new science

Tours will soon be open to the staff at ALS.

Collecting gifts for UCSF Benioff’s Children’s Hospital

We are collecting gifts for UCSF Benioff Children’s hospital. Please deposit your contribution near the holiday tree at the entrance of LBNL cafeteria !

Those kids are in dire need of comfort, and they don’t get very much– anything helps !

Postdocs are ice-skating for children !

Postdocs are ice-skating for children !

[Read more…]

Open Access – additional resources

This a follow-up of the Open Access event we had at the lab (the pictures of the event are here.), and a continuation of our previous article : Open Access publishing at Berkeley Lab.

Laurence Bianchini, from MyScienceWork

Laurence Bianchini, from MyScienceWork

Here is the supporting material (from the speakers at the event):
Open Access impact on scientific career.
LBNL publication requirements.

In a nutshell :

When submitting a paper, make sure the acknowledgement reflects

This work was supported by the Director, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, of the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231.

It is the same contract — and acknowledgements– for everyone at the lab. You can mention “partially supported by” or equivalent when needed. The statement might vary based on which specific office funded the research, but the contract number should always be acknowledged.

Please also make available the accepted manuscript on (the actual paper submission link is here.)

You can check the copyright status of your publications on SHERPA/RoMEO. It is good practice to make sure that all your publications can be found on the internet (either through Google scholar, PubMED and others.) You can also use your own website to make your publications available (the worst things that can happen is a take-down notice, if the copyright situation is tricky.)

Regarding intellectual property – please submit a record of invention to the Berkeley Lab Innovation and Partnerships Office ( for new processes, devices, or compositions of matter described in a paper when you have completed a draft of the paper. The record of invention form can be found here. You can find more information here.

Series X : Paul Alivisatos

For the lastest BLPA seminar : Series X, We were pleased to host Paul Alivisatos, Vice-Chancellor for research at University of California, Berkeley, and former director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory !

Paul Alivisatos speaking to postdocs at Berkeley Lab

Paul Alivisatos speaking to postdocs at Berkeley Lab

Here are the pictures of the events, and some of units of wisdom :

“I have learned to create a new unit of failure through abject failures !”

“Every time I start a new project, I hope this the the thing I wanted to do my whole life”

[Read more…]

Open Access and Berkeley Lab publication policies

Come and join us to learn about the history and current status of the Open Access, and how the DOE publishing policies wants you to help in that effort. We will also give a refresher of the good practices regarding acknowledgement, particularly critical in times where there is a change in the composition of the federal government.

Laurence Bianchini from MyScienceWork will and Peter Palath from Berkeley Lab will give an information session on Open Access and publication policy specific to the lab, on Thursday, December 1st at 11am in Aud50.open_access_slide
The talk is open to anyone at the lab.

Here is some information : Open Access publishing at Berkeley Lab.


The forum@MSD series is a new format we’re experimenting in collaboration with the Material Science Division at Berkeley Lab, where we bring a top scientist to introduce a scientific subject, and we let two or three postdocs presenting their research.

The forum is aimed at cultivating collaboration across MSD among early- career scientists. Postdocs, introduced by their PIs, discuss your work in a manner accessible to non-experts. The talks are not be limited to published results, rather the ongoing day-to-day nature of gathering results; topics for discussion include :

  • Nuts and bolts of gathering results
  • Obstacles you encountered – technical or otherwise
  • Dealing with ‘negative results’
  • Topic change from previous work

Our first event on November 9th, 2016 featured Topological Insulators, the topic related to the Nobel Prize this year. Joel Moore gave a theoretical introduction to the subject; young scientists Kenny Gotlieb and Liang Wu shared their research, followed by a hearty discussion !

Kenny Gotlieb presenting his latest results on Topological Insulators

Kenny Gotlieb presenting his latest results on Topological Insulators

This effort follows a desire to build upon the tremendous MSD successes over the past few years (here’s the Energy Sciences strategic plan for 2016 if you want to learn more about the research performed at the lab)

Visit of MSRI

The Berkeley Lab postdocs were delighted to be given a tour of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute by its director David Eisenbud! All the pictures are available here.

We’ve learned many things about how Mathematical science works, and the many differences in how it is conducted. Most postdocs come here for 6 months only, covering a specific topic of mathematics and sharing their thoughts during seminars.

David Eisenbud giving a tour Berkeley Lab postdocs

David Eisenbud giving a tour Berkeley Lab postdocs

The address of MSRI (17 Gauss way) has to do with polygon construction, and is a recurrent theme in the institution, as an exemplification that math and physical science are just two sides of the same coin.

The Institute was so kind they got us a chance to meet our mathematician counterparts and talk about exotic theories around a few beers and snacks !


We hope to create deeper connections between MSRI and LBNL in the future, and we will be thrilled to have them over anytime, to compare the respective merits of theory and experiment !

MSRI postdocs visiting Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source

MSRI postdocs visiting Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source