Director’s Corner

The future of many endeavors, including the laser-plasma accelerator work at ATAP’s BELLA Center, requires easier access to higher laser power. One approach, being moved forward by Berkeley Lab and our partners, in collaboration with the University of Michigan and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is combining the low-powered pulses from many inexpensive fiber-optic lasers. Preserving certain key characteristics during the combining process is an important and challenging aspect. Now, thanks to an innovative control and stabilization technique, we have spatially coherent combining, an important complement to their earlier demonstration of temporal coherence.

It is a demonstration of the power not only of lasers, but also of collaboration (with other laboratories and our own Engineering Division), and of maintaining leading-edge capabilities in the many disciplines required for these instruments of discovery.

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Further good news comes from different sources of light. The Berkeley Lab injector source for the Linac Coherent Light Source II project at SLAC achieved its formal transition to operations. Meanwhile, a Department of Energy review committee recommended going ahead with Critical Decision 3a for the Advanced Light Source Upgrade. If approved, CD-3a would allow Berkeley Lab to begin procurement of long-lead-time items for the new accumulator ring, helping ensure timely construction of this key part of the nation’s future research infrastructure.

Lawrence’s invention of the cyclotron in the early 1930s proved to be one of the transformative innovations in modern science. Much the same could be said for the workstyle pioneered at his laboratory: a framework for designing, building, and operating these machines of big science with multidisciplinary teams. “Excellence in Accelerators,” a short video by Berkeley Lab Strategic Communications, takes a quick look at this history and at how ATAP is helping to drive the next generation of these engines of discovery.

We hope you’ll think of this video and accompanying story as the school year progresses into the holidays. We’ve all met people, ranging from schoolchildren just catching the science bug to friends and relatives, who wonder what we do; this is a great quick explainer. Other opportunities to reach out to the community, especially the schools, are opening up as well.

Our colleagues in doing these things have received a number of honors recently, including three LBNL Director’s Awards and an election to APS Fellowship.

On a more sobering note: this October brings the 30th anniversary of the Loma Prieta quake. I urge each of you to participate in the Laboratory’s earthquake drill on the morning of October 17, part of the California-wide Great Shakeout. Another quake will occur; we cannot know when or where, but it could be tomorrow, and it could be in a location that will strongly impact the Lab site or the places where we live. Let’s make the most of this opportunity to learn how to “prepare before — survive during — recover after.”

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone in ATAP for their forbearance and perseverance during the recent power interruption at our main site and the ongoing resumption of normal operations. It was a reminder of how the Laboratory’s scientific achievements are made possible by many unsung heroes who keep things running during normal times, and in an event like this, ensure safety and minimize the impact upon the rest of us. Among them were our Deputy Division Director for Operations, Asmita Patel, and EH&S Coordinator, Pat Thomas, who were in the Emergency Operations Center, where key people stayed atop the constantly changing situation and kept everyone informed. All in all we handled the outage with the cooperation, selflessness, and team spirit that make Berkeley Lab what it is.


Phase Control Innovation Leads to Beam Teamwork

Beams being combined

More powerful when working together

A breakthrough in phase control of ultrafast lasers is a milestone for a Berkeley Lab effort to develop a high-power laser based on coherently combining many low-power pulses from fiber-optic lasers. This could evolve into a system for powering the next generation of laser-plasma accelerators, such as those of ATAP’s BELLA Center.

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Lasers have progressed tremendously, but one thing remains the same: their applications always seem to need more power with better control.

As ATAP’s Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator Center (BELLA) looks beyond its current experiments and toward the next generation of its innovative accelerators, it will need a new generation of lasers. They will have to provide significantly more power in shorter pulses at a much higher repetition rate than today’s.

One promising candidate is based on fiber optics. However, the power that can be extracted from each fiber is quite limited: some 10 millijoules. To use fiber technology for a laser suitable for the next generation of laser-plasma accelerators, dubbed “k-BELLA” for its kilohertz/kilowatt performance class, the beams from many fibers would have to be combined, obtaining joule-class output. For a laser-plasma accelerator, they would also have to be combined coherently in space and time so the results are seen by the laser-plasma accelerator as one powerful laser pulse, not as independent pulses in close proximity.

Coherent beam combining concept could be key to unprecedented beam power

This has been an active area of research here and elsewhere. A milestone in the Berkeley Lab effort last year — coherent temporal beam combining — has now been complemented by an innovative beam control technique that holds the key to adding coherent spatial combining. The effort is being led by Qiang Du of the BACI Program and the Engineering Division. Their results were recently published in the journal Optics Letters.

“We’re adding a second dimension to our capabilities,” said Du. The key innovation was realizing that side beams rejected in the diffractive beam-combining elements contain information on phase errors, and that this information can be fed back to the combiner in a system of reasonable performance and complexity.

The researchers are now scaling from a proof-of-principle experiment involving a few beams to an unprecedented 81 channels. The usable information increases along with the number of channels, allowing scaling to the hundreds of beams for joule-class combined output without slowing down the response time of the feedback loop.

The overall beam-combining effort is performed in close collaboration with the University of Michigan, home of a seminal idea and key expertise for coherent beam combining, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

To learn more…
Qiang Du, Tong Zhou, Lawrence R. Doolittle, Gang Huang, Derun Li, and Russell Wilcox, “Deterministic stabilization of eight-way 2D diffractive beam combining using pattern recognition,” Optics Letters 44, 18 (15 September 2019), pp. 4554-7 (11 September 2019),

It is the third in a series of Optics Letters that the Berkeley Lab researchers have published, following Tong Zhou et al., “Two-dimensional combination of eight ultrashort pulsed beams using a diffractive optic pair,” Optics Letters 43, 14 (11 Jule 2018), pp. 3269-72,, and Tong Zhou et al., “Coherent combination of ultrashort pulse beams using two diffractive optics,” Optics Letters 42, 21 (2 October 2017), pp. 4422-5,

TTO for LCLS-II Injector Source

Assembling Berkeley Lab injector source for LCLS-II

Based upon materials by Glenn Roberts, Jr., Berkeley Lab Strategic Communications

The Berkeley Lab injector source for Linac Coherent Light Source-II has been formally accepted through a Transition To Operations (TTO) memorandum. The event marks the end of a highly successful multi-year effort to build this extremely challenging part of LCLS-II.

The electron gun fired its first electrons May 29, 2019. Since then, Berkeley Lab personnel have been working with their SLAC counterparts to commission the full injector source, an effort that continues so that it reaches its full performance expectations. The TTO required that it meet a set of threshold parameters en route to the final goals.

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The injector source is the first stage of an accelerator for a next-generation free electron laser. This FEL will produce powerful hard-X-ray beams at a pulse rate 8,000 times faster than the 120 pulses per second typical of the original LCLS.

Building a Better Electron Gun

APEX gun

The successful test of the LCLS-II electron gun marks the culmination of an R&D effort spanning more than a decade at Berkeley Lab.
   The gun’s design was conceived in 2006 by two ATAP researchers: now-retired physicist John W. Staples and senior scientist Fernando Sannibale. The resulting prototype, the Advanced Photoinjector EXperiment, would later become the prototype for the LCLS-II electron gun.
   The development of the APEX prototype gun was led by Sannibale, who now serves as deputy for accelerator operations for Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS). A multidisciplinary team brought the gun from the drawing board through its testing phase and to its present operational readiness.
   APEX is being used for a spinoff application in high-resolution, ultrafast electron diffraction. Staples is now assisting with conceptual work on a next-generation electron gun proposed by Sannibale and known as APEX-2.
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“This is a critical milestone for LCLS-II, and for the Berkeley Lab team that designed and built the gun and low-energy beam transport for the project,” said John Corlett, who serves as Berkeley Lab’s interim project management officer and has also served as the senior team lead for Berkeley Lab’s contributions to the multi-institutional LCLS-II project.

Other Berkeley Lab contributions include the “undulators” (magnetic insertion devices) at the heart of the FEL, as well as work on the accelerator’s low-level RF control systems.

Making X-rays with electrons

X-ray lasers use pulsed beams of electrons to generate their X-ray light. These beams gain tremendous energy in massive linear particle accelerators and then give some of that energy off in the form of extremely bright X-ray flashes when they fly through special magnets known as undulators.

The injector’s role is to produce an electron beam with high intensity, a small cross-section and minimal divergence, the right pulse rate, and other properties required to achieve the best possible X-ray laser performance.

The electrons fired by the injector come from the electron gun. It consists of a hollow metal cavity where flashes of laser light hit a photocathode that responds by releasing electrons. The cavity is filled with a radiofrequency (RF) field that boosts the energy of the freed electrons and accelerates them in bunches toward the gun’s exit.

Magnets and another RF cavity inside the injector squeeze the electrons into smaller, shorter bunches, and an accelerator section, being installed, will increase the energy of the bunches to allow them to enter the main stretch of the X-ray laser’s linear accelerator. Spanning almost a kilometer in length, this superconducting accelerator will increase the speed of the electron bunches to almost the speed of light.

The million-pulse challenge

The most delicate injector component is the electron gun, and for LCLS-II the technical demands are bigger than ever, said John Schmerge, deputy director of SLAC’s Accelerator Directorate.

“The first generation of LCLS produced 120 X-ray flashes per second, which means the injector laser and RF power only had to operate at that rate,” he said. “LCLS-II, on the other hand, will also have the capability of firing up to a million times per second, so the RF power needs to be switched on all the time and the laser has to work at the much higher rate.”

This creates major challenges in areas that include electron gun cooling and the laser that drives the photocathode, as described in the full story from the July 2019 issue of ATAP News.

“The LCLS-II project got a flying start, profiting from Berkeley Lab’s experience designing and running this unique electron source,” said John Galayda, then leader of the LCLS-II project. (He is now director of a project at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.) “It continues to be a great collaboration that is crucial in building the next-generation X-ray laser.”


DOE Committee Recommends CD-3a for ALS-U

A DOE committee reviewing the ALS-U Project has unanimously recommended that it receive CD-3A status — an important milestone in construction funding. If approved, ALS-U could proceed with $55.2M in long-lead procurements of the “accumulator ring,” a critical component of the enhanced accelerator.

ALS-U replaces the present ALS storage ring with a multibend achromat (outer multicolored circle) and introduces an accumulator ring (inner)

ALS-U, a major upgrade to Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source, has the goal of “diffraction limited” performance, which requires a storage ring and oher accelerator systems at the edge of what is achievable. ATAP will play key roles in the multi-divisional effort, managed from the Laboratory Directorate, to meet these challenges. The ALS-U Project Director, David Robin, and the interim head of the Laboratory’s Project Management Office, John Corlett, were both ATAP program heads before moving on to their present roles.

The committee recommendation comes one year after ALS-U received Critical Decision 1 approval — a milestone in the DOE project management process that signified the beginning of the preliminary design and engineering phase.

VIDEO: Particle Accelerators Drive Decades of Discoveries at Berkeley Lab and Beyond

— Lab’s expertise in accelerator technologies has spiraled out from Ernest Lawrence’s earliest cyclotron to advanced compact accelerators

Accelerators have been at the heart of Berkeley Lab since its inception, and are still a driving force in the Laboratory’s mission and its R&D program. Join us for this short video by Berkeley Lab Strategic Communications, “Excellence in Accelerators,” that takes a quick look at some highlights of this rich history and of what the future may hold.

To Learn More… click here for the accompanying background story

Quantum Information, Accelerators and Fusion at the 63rd IAEA General Meeting

Quantum information systems and their nexus with ion beam technology was the topic of a September 18 side event at the 63rd annual General Meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The meeting was held September 16-20, 2019, in Vienna, Austria. ATAP Interim Director Thomas Schenkel was one of the featured speakers at the side event.

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“Quantum’s ability to process extremely complex information faster and in greater detail than current technology would open the door for more effectively simulating processes such as fusion,” said Schenkel, quoted in an article about the side event by Nicole Jawerth of the IAEA Office of Public Information and Communication.

“These simulations can help scientists test and understand how fusion could work with different conditions and materials,” he added. “This understanding can provide valuable insights into how to engineer and build machines capable of achieving, harnessing and sustaining a fusion reaction — a challenge toward which there has been steady progress internationally.”


ATAP’S Eric Esarey, Ian Pong, Martha Condon To Receive Director’s Awards

At the upcoming annual Berkeley Lab Director’s Awards ceremony, three ATAP people will be recognized with the Director’s Award for Exceptional Achievement: Eric Esarey for scientific achievement, Ian Pong for scientific achievement (early career category), and Martha Condon for service. The ceremony will be livestreamed 3-5 pm Pacific time Friday, November 15.

Eric Esarey
Eric Esarey, Scientific
“In recognition of outstanding contributions to the science and technology of advanced accelerator concepts, and for his pioneering theoretical research in the physics of laser-plasma accelerators that has helped to enable the success of the BELLA Center.”

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Senior Staff Scientist Eric Esarey, director of ATAP’s Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator Center (BELLA), was honored in the Scientific category.

His focus is on understanding the fundamental principles of intense laser interactions with beams and plasmas, and on developing practical accelerators and radiation sources that rely on these principles. The laser-plasma accelerator (LPA) work at BELLA is among the most exciting frontiers of accelerator science; with the ability to generate gigavolts-in-centimeters accelerating gradients, LPAs offer the potential to reduce the size of future colliders for high-energy physics by orders of magnitude.

Nearer-term applications for these compact machines are already being explored, including compact accelerators for basic science, medicine, and defense, as well as drivers for future light sources, such as x-ray free-electron lasers.

Eric was one of the principal founders of this world-leading center. One of BELLA’s strengths is its integration of theory and computer modeling with experiment, and Eric has led the understanding of LPA physics and adjacent phenomena.

“We have had a big impact on each other’s careers,” writes Gérard Mourou, 2018 Nobel laureate in physics as co-developer of a revolutionary laser technique called chirped-pulse amplification or CPA. Mourou describes Eric as “a true pioneer in the field of laser-plasma accelerators” and goes on to call him “the world’s leading theorist on intense laser interactions with underdense plasmas {…} responsible for many of the key concepts and developments for laser-plasma accelerators and their applications.”

This expertise has been expressed in more than 220 refereed papers, including some considered landmarks in their field, and more than 100 invited and plenary talks at major international conferences. Eric is serving as general chair of the upcoming LBNL-hosted 2020 Advanced Accelerator Concepts Workshop.

Eric is also known as a mentor of colleagues at all levels from graduate students and postdocs through senior scientific staff. Virtually every member of the BELLA Center since 1998 has benefitted from his guidance, including over two dozen students, several who went on to full-time staff positions here.

Ian Pong

Ian Pong, Scientific (Early Career)
“For technical and managerial excellence in pushing Nb3Sn superconductors and cables toward their performance limits in support of high-energy physics colliders and fusion-energy facilities through the U.S. Magnet Development Program and U.S. High-Luminosity LHC Accelerator Upgrade Project.”

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Research scientist Ian Pong was recognized in the Scientific (Early Career) category.

The entire history of particle accelerators has been interwoven with the history of stronger, better, and more cost-effective magnets. Both as a technical expert in designing and applying an advanced superconductor called niobium-three-tin (Nb3Sn) and as a team and collaboration leader, Ian has helped achieve Berkeley Lab and DOE priorities at the frontier of magnet technology.

Among these priorities is the ongoing luminosity upgrade of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, the first significant use of Nb3Sn in an accelerator. Another is the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), the fusion-energy community’s flagship project, which will include the largest single Nb3Sn procurement in history.

In addition to his work as the Control Account Manager for Cable Winding and Magnet Testing in the High-Luminosity LHC Accelerator Upgrade Project, Ian represented the Physical Sciences Area — the LBNL associate laboratory directorate that includes the ATAP Division — on the LBNL Project Management Advisory Board.

Not only technical excellence but also interpersonal and leadership skills are crucial for today’s interdisciplinary, multi-institutional, and international team science. In a Critical Decision 2/3b review of the HL-LHC AUP, Ian was singled out for the exemplary quality of his management and delivery of his scope of work, and a reviewer described him as the best example for other subsystem managers.

Ian’s expertise is regularly sought by other institutions, helping maintain LBNL’s leadership as a center for superconducting magnet technology. He has a wide network of collaborators, having co-authored peer-reviewed papers with over 110 colleagues from more than 40 institutes.

Ian has also attracted high quality young researchers to join his team. Serving as both a leader and a role model for younger scientists, he has mentored an entry-level scientist, a postdoctoral fellow, two mechanical technicians, 1 QA/QC technician and 16 students.

Martha Condon, Service
“In honor of exceptional and versatile service to the Laboratory over her four decade career as the lead administrator at the startup of multiple new and ongoing research programs in support of the DOE mission.”

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An exemplar among the “hidden figures” who support our scientific excellence, ATAP Division Administrator Martha Condon has had a distinguished 39-year career in administrative support. Her achievements run the gamut from conference planning to property management, publications management, preparation of Building 71 for the BELLA Laser, facilitating complicated subcontracts with multiple institutions and businesses, assisting with the proposal process, and supervising/mentoring administrative staff.

She has supported the Division during several directorship transitions while also managing ongoing routine administrative functions, ensuring stewardship of resources and people. She has also been the startup administrator for multiple program and project launches.

Arranging and running events of all kinds and sizes, from small meetings to conferences, is another highlight among Martha’s diverse talents. Presently she is helping organize the 2020 Advanced Accelerator Concepts Workshop. She has also been an integral part of the logistical, planning, organization, and execution of our Safety Days, helping make them a success that in recent years has been joined and emulated by other Physical Sciences Divisions.

Deeply respected by scientific and operations staff within the Division and collaborating business partners across the laboratory, Martha’s award nomination elicited comments like “a treasure” with “superpowers”; “we just could not have done it without Martha’s tireless persistence and leadership
{…} everything worked without a hitch”; “I can’t begin to estimate the amount of administrative effort she has saved me and the Division staff by proactively solving a problem”; and “I knew we could rely on her for anything.”

Ji Qiang Named as APS Fellow

Ji Qiang, senior scientist and deputy program head with ATAP’s Accelerator Modeling Program, has joined the ranks of Fellows of the American Physical Society “for extensive contributions and leadership in theoretical and computational beam and accelerator physics, and for pioneering application of high-performance computing in the field.”

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After earning his doctorate in 1997 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Ji worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory, then came to Berkeley Lab in 2002. His interests include novel computational methods and advanced multi-physics computer tools for high intensity/high brightness beam dynamics studies; beam dynamics of high brightness electron beams in x-ray FEL light source accelerators; space-charge effects in high-intensity beams; and beam-beam effects in high energy colliders. Ji has proposed new accelerator concepts such as the recirculating superconducting proton linac, a novel two-stage modulation compression scheme to generate short wavelength and multi-color attosecond FEL x-ray radiation, and a method to improve streak camera resolution using the time-dependent RF field.

He joins 28 present and former members of ATAP and its predecessor organizations who have received this honor.

Another researcher identifying primarily with Berkeley Lab, Robert Kaindl of the Materials Sciences Division, also received the distinction this year, as did four scholars with the University of California, Berkeley, three of whom have Laboratory appointments.


K-12 Opportunities Leaf Out This Fall

An important part of Berkeley Lab’s mission involves kindergarten through high school. Opportunities to reach out to the scientists and engineers of tomorrow are coming up in the near future, including TechWomen, Berkeley Lab Speakers, and STEM Night with Scout Leaders.

The Visit the Berkeley Lab K-12 website has in-depth information on these and other opportunities. Ina Reichel, x4341, ATAP Outreach and Education Coordinator, and Faith Dukes, x6378, Berkeley Lab Manager of K-12 STEM Education Programs, would be glad to answer any questions.

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TechWomen and Girl Scouts Day at Berkeley Lab
Saturday, October 26, 2019 8:30 am – 1:00 pm

ATAP’s Patricia Thomas and Diana Amorin demonstrate the spectral properties of light at a Girl Scouts event in San Carlos, CA

Berkeley Lab will be hosting TechWomen mentors and young women from the Girl Scouts of Northern California during a day of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) explorations. Volunteers will be able to learn more about the TechWomen mentoring program from current staff and help with logistics, facilitate hands-on activities, and participate in one-on-one talks with students interested in STEM. The program will be attended by young women in middle school. To volunteer, please complete the Google Form.

Berkeley Lab K-12 Speakers
Are you interested in discussing your research and/or career with students? If so, consider signing up to be on our list of Berkeley Lab Speakers. Throughout the year, students visit the Lab, and many classrooms are in need of your science and engineering expertise. As a side benefit, you’ll become a better science communicator. The K-12 Program staff will work with local schools to identify needs, craft questions that will lead to meaningful engagement, and match speakers with organizations/school groups. Speakers will mostly present here at Berkeley Lab or over video links. To volunteer, sign up via Google Form.

STEM Night with Scout Leaders

As Nuclear Science Day for Scouts prepares for its 10th anniversary, we are planning to invite Girl Scout troop leaders to the Lab for a night of science activities that will help them engage their Scouts (especially those of the East Bay) regarding the importance and opportunity of STEM. This is shaping up as an evening event in January, perhaps 6-8 pm Thursday, January 23rd. A Google Form lets you indicate your interest.

Accelerator is Simulated, Succcess is Real for ATAP Summer Student

Ji Qiang (left), Elaine Jutamulia, and postdoc David Bizzozero discuss a simulation code

ATAP and Berkeley Lab are highly committed to training the scientists of the future, and some show their promise early. Just after finishing her junior year in high school, Elaine Jutamulia spent the summer of 2019 with the Accelerator Modeling Program.

Working with AMP senior scientist Ji Qiang and postdoctoral scholar David Bizzozero, she helped port the IMPACT Suite and BeamBeam3D — popular “codes” or programs in the Berkeley Lab Accelerator Simulation Toolkit (BLAST) — to the distribution and management site GitHub. She also developed Web-based documentation of the structure and function of these codes.

Now a senior at Oakland’s Head-Royce School, Ms. Jutamulia participates in softball and volleyball — and as a sophomore had been on the robotics team. The latest in what seems sure to be a career-long list of achievements: she was among the two dozen Oakland students recently named as National Merit Scholarship semifinalists.


IDEA Brown Bag Discussions Bolster Team Effectiveness

Matt Sakaguchi and Michelle Elrod

Google’s Matt Sakaguchi (l.) and Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo’s Michelle Elrod speak at the Berkeley Lab talk about Project Aristotle

Berkeley Lab’s emphasis on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accountability (IDEA) is something we can all put to work for more-effective team science. Two series of lunch-hour brown-bag discussions — one for all employees, the other for supervisors and managers — will emphasize the role of IDEA values in making teams stronger and more effective. A key element of team effectiveness — psychological safety — is getting special attention as we begin this journey of personal and professional growth.

Berkeley Lab’s Chief DEI Officer, Lady Idos, is leading these series of IDEA Brown Bag sessions.

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The sessions are safe places to bring questions and feedback on IDEA at the Lab and how we can share the conversation. No reservations are required, and you can join remotely via Zoom. Bring a lunch!

Evidence-Driven Building Blocks of IDEA

The approach stems from a 2012 Google study, Project Aristotle, that looked at the Google teams considered most successful. (This research was shared during a talk at the Lab in June.) Drawing upon their own findings as well as the broader context of teamwork research, Google’s study concluded that successful teams shared these five traits:

•  Psychological Safety — team members feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of one another
•  Dependability — team members get things done on time and meet a high bar for excellence
•  Structure and Clarity — team members have clear roles, plans, and goals
•  Meaning — work is personally important to team members
•  Impact — team members think their work matters and creates change

All ATAP employees are encouraged to watch the YouTube video about Project Aristotle and participate in these brown-bag sessions. IDEA is the right thing to do with respect to our colleagues, and has practical benefits as well. What better way to honor Berkeley Lab’s heritage as the birthplace of team science than learning how to build stronger and more-effective teams?

To Learn More…
•  Visit the Lab’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website for a wide variety of resources.
•  Additional resources tailored to the needs of work leads, supervisors and managers are available at IDEAs In Action.
•  Stay tuned for future brown-baggers that will be announced via Elements.
•  This TEDx talk by Amy Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School, discusses how to build psychological safety in teams.

ATAP’s Ina Reichel Recognized for ERG Leadership

Ina Reichel

Ina Reichel

At the August meeting of the leadership teams of all Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), the leaders received a Certificate of Appreciation signed by the Lab’s Chief Diversity Equity & Inclusion Officer Lady Idos and by Lab Director Mike Witherell.

Among the recipients were ATAP’s Ina Reichel, together with Sandra Ciocio from the Physics Division, co-chairs of the Policy Subcommittee of the Women Scientists and Engineers Council. Reichel is also serving as interim WSEC Chair, pending election of a new Chair by the members.

To learn more about the WSEC and the other ERGs (and perhaps get involved), visit their pages on the Lab’s IDEA website,

Lab’s Spirit of Teamwork Was Beacon in the Darkness During Power Outage

Emergency lights at the Lab’s main substation against the backdrop of a darkened city

With a severe windstorm in the forecast at what is always a dry, high-fire-danger time of year in northern California, Pacific Gas & Electric chose to shut down high-voltage transmission lines serving much of the Bay Area. Fortunately they gave us a day’s advance notice of the likelihood, atop existing general awareness of the possibility. Disconnected from the grid for what is believed to be the first time ever, the main Berkeley Lab site was methodically shut down and would remain closed to all but essential personnel for several days. The adjacent University of California campus and surrounding cities were also affected by this wide-area service interruption.

Gracefully handling an unexpected several-day shutdown of a major laboratory is no small feat… and neither is safely re-energizing its nearly 100 individual buildings and the complex technical equipment within them. The response and recovery efforts involved some 300 staffers whose functions and home departments spanned the breadth of the Laboratory.

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At the heart of this team effort was a group of essential personnel who staffed the Emergency Operations Center and put our response plans into action. Here are some scenes from their week of double workdays to keep the Laboratory safe and secure and its more than 4000 employees, students, guest researchers, and facility users well informed.

For more scenes from the Lab’s response, visit “We Went To Work When The Power Went Out,” a photostory by Berkeley Lab Strategic Communications.

They are also running an ongoing series on the unsung heroes of preparation, response and recovery, including Mission Support Officers (one of whom is our own Pat Thomas), and have a video from lights-out through re-energization.


Honoring the Top Achievers of Safety Day

Engineering Division Director Henrik von der Lippe (l.) congratulates Chavez

Thomas Schenkel presents Safety Day team award to team leader Tobias Ostermayr

Tobias Ostermayr (r.) accepts award on behalf of his team from ATAP Interim Director Thomas Schenkel

The success of our annual Safety Day is built on an all-hands effort, but some stand out for exceptional dedication and the quality of their contributions.

This year, to promote ongoing safety-culture awareness, we honored an outstanding individual worker and the top-performing self-assessment team for their Safety Day efforts. Engineering Division machinist Pete Chavez took the “people’s choice” individual award, while team honors went to the assessment team for the BELLA Center hundred-terawatt area.

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Individual award nominations were solicited from all participants as part of a Safety Day follow-up survey. The winning self-assessment team was selected by divisional officials who performed final walkthroughs and received reports from all the teams.

Team Honors: BELLA 100-TW Area Assessment Team

BELLA Workplace Assessment QUEST Team that won the 2019 Safety Day award
Among the 18 Workplace Self-Assessment QUEST Teams, top honors went to the team that inspected BELLA Center’s hundred-terawatt laser area. Shown here are the winners and the Lab officials who honored the occasion at an August 23 ceremony. From left: Engineering Division EH&S Coordinator Marshall Granados; Environment, Safety, and Health Division safety specialist Herb Toor; ATAP Division EH&S Coordinator Pat Thomas; Engineering Division Director Henrik von der Lippe; ATAP Deputy Division Director for Operations Asmita Patel; BELLA postdoctoral researcher Hai-En Tsai; ATAP Interim Division Director Thomas Schenkel; BELLA postdoctoral researcher Jeroen van Tilborg; BELLA Deputy Director Cameron Geddes; BELLA staff scientist Kei Nakamura; BELLA postdoctoral researchers Sam Barber, Tong Zhou, and Tobias Ostermayr (leader of the winning QUEST team); and BELLA graduate student Fumika Isono. Not shown: BELLA research assistants Manfred Ambat and Max Wallace.

Individual Contributor: Pete Chavez

Chavez, in dark blue (second from right), receives award from von der Lippe

A close race for this “people’s choice” honor, bestowed after voting that was part of the post-event survey, went to Engineering Division machinist Pete Chavez. He was praised by fellow Safety Day participants as a “most organized and patient co-worker” who strives to “improve all work areas he occupies” and “perform difficult tasks in a safe manner” — qualities he displays all year, but especially on Safety Day, where he went “above and beyond” to the point of coming back the next day to put the finishing touches on his contributions.

From left to right, Engineering Division Safety Coordinator Marshall Granados, ATAP Division Safety Coordinator Pat Thomas, and ATAP Deputy Division Director for Operations Asmita Patel join Chavez as he receives the Safety Day individual award from Engineering Division Director Henrik von der Lippe.

On the Anniversary of Loma Prieta, Let’s Shake Out Our Quake Preparedness

This month is the 30th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake. On the very date — Thursday, October 17 — the Lab will participate in the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill, beginning at 10:17 a.m.

Editor’s Note: Due to the ongoing efforts to get back up and running after the power outage — and the fortunately mild natural reminder of seismic hazards that we got on October 14 — the Laboratory drill was postponed. Watch Elements for more information.

Beyond the in-the-moment essentials of “duck, cover, and hold on,” it’s a great opportunity to review all our measures to prepare before, survive during, and recover after.

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Earthquakes: Not If — When

The Hayward Fault runs between the Lab and campus (it actually goes through Memorial Stadium). Seismologists estimate that there is more than a 60% chance of a damaging earthquake striking our region in the next 30 years. The Lab takes extensive quake-preparedness measures, and prudent employees may choose to keep individual supplies in their work areas and cars as well as at home.

In the event of a quake, drop, cover, and hold on. When the shaking stops, grab essential personal items and find a safe route to the evacuation area outside your building. Do not re-enter the building until cleared to do so by safety officials. Hazardous conditions might exist, and there could be aftershocks.

Please take a moment to view this new LBNL video about how to prepare for and respond to a real earthquake.

To help you be prepared at work, at home, and in the car, resources are available from the Earthquake Country Alliance (a suggested first thing to read is Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country, which they repost from the US Geological Survey).

Another useful source of readiness tips for all kinds of disasters and setbacks is 72 Hours, named after the bare minimum amount of time you should be prepared to survive any form of widespread disaster, anywhere, before help arrives — a full week would be even better.

Observing how people coped with the recent precautionary power outage is an excellent guide as well. A way to charge cell phones, a full tank of gas in the car, a stash of nonperishable food and potable water… this is a good basis for any emergency.

Wildlands Fire: Be Aware and Prepared

helicopter over a forest fire

This month also brings another anniversary that needs no reminder to those of us who lived or worked in this area in 1991 (or 1970): the Oakland/Berkeley Hills wildfire.

Although October is the heart of the classic California fire season, Lab Fire Marshall Todd LaBerge, PE, points out that the risk is tantamount to year-round now. LaBerge’s planned talk on October 10 had to be postponed due to the power outage at the main Lab site, but you can watch a video of a recent presentation.

The LBNL site is in a vulnerable area (in 1923, a conflagration swept down what was then an empty hillside where the Lab now stands, and was stopped just short of the campus — not by the puny hand of man so much as by the Diablo winds’ giving way to onshore flow). Many of us also live in or commute through the urban/wildlands interface and have to be aware and prepared for the risk of wildfire.

More …

Know Where You’ll Be SAFE

SAFE Buildings shown in dark blue offer best wildfire shelter

In a call that experts will make depending on circumstances, our Protective Action in case of wildfire might be to shelter in place (as opposed to a managed zone-by-zone or complete evacuation).

Certain structures (at least one in each zone) have been analyzed and designated as Safety Areas For Emergencies (SAFE) buildings. Shown in blue on this map, they are preferred locations for hunkering down until wildfire danger has passed.

Learn to Prepare and Survive

homewildfire_150x143yIf you live in a vulnerable area, clear defensible space and remove light fuels.

Cal Fire’s Ready, Set Go program is an excellent resource, as is the National Fire Protection Associations Firewise USA. The University of California has peer-reviewed advice on how to design and maintain landscape for greater fire safety.

See also the Association of Bay Area Governments website and the Diablo FireSafe Council.

Be Aware of Food Safety After Extended Power Outage

Even if breakroom refrigerators at the main Laboratory site were cold when you returned after the shutdown, keep in mind that the power was out for days and that the re-energization of the entire Lab site took most of the weekend after main service was restored. Perishable food was likely in the bacterial-growth danger zone for a substantial period.

Treat all perishable food as suspect., a joint effort by the US Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offers these guidelines for exercising judgment.

If in doubt, throw it out.

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Something has happened — should you attempt to come to the Lab? You can call, toll free, 1.800.445.5830 (1-800-HILL-830) for information about the status of LBNL, and check