Scientific Collaborations, Anyone?

During a Recent Visit, National Lab Directors Urged Berkeley Faculty to Think About It

by Marie Felde

To explain the work of the UC-managed national laboratories and how Berkeley faculty and researchers can collaborate with them, directors of all three labs visited the campus Feb. 6.

"We're here not just to hand out money, but to build relationships with UC campuses. We need the help of some the smartest people in the world," said Siegfried Hecker, director of Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Director Bruce Tarter of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Charles Shank, director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, joined Hecker at the Faculty Club.

Chancellor Tien said he has long sought the visit by the three directors. "With research contracts and grants hard to get," it benefits the campus "to learn more about national laboratory opportunities," said Tien.

The labs are funded by the Department of Energy and managed by UC. It was clear the directors eagerly welcome collaboration between their labs and UC faculty. Although they were quick to note that they are not a source of research funding, there are opportunities to work together, they said.

"We value and find it absolutely essential to have partnerships with the campuses," said Shank, who also holds an appointment as a Berkeley faculty member.

Both Hecker at Los Alamos and Tarter at Livermore said their facilities are increasingly "multi-program" laboratories working on everything from astronomy to the human genome project.

Shank too said that while high energy physics will remain important at the Berkeley lab, by the end of the century a full one-third of its efforts will be in the biological sciences, particularly in genomics and structure. Materials science and computing are also major fields of interest, he said.

Shank encouraged faculty and researchers to explore the work being done and what's available for joint efforts at all the labs by looking at a new web page on collaborative opportunities. Operated by the Office of the President, it is located at

During a question session following the directors' presentation, several issues involving roadblocks to collaboration arose. Among them are issues of joint appointments for researchers who are not faculty members, and access to lab facilities if campus-based projects are not funded by the Department of Energy.

The directors agreed that these and other obstacles need to be resolved and pledged to work on them. Tien said he would seek solutions from the systemwide level as well.

This was the first UC Lab Day at a campus, but similar visits are planned at all the UC campuses.


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