More than three billion people burn wood, charcoal, animal dung, or crop residue to cook their food and heat their homes, often using open fires or rudimentary stoves that release toxic pollutants, leading to an estimated two million premature deaths each year. The problem primarily affects women and children. A team at Berkeley Lab led by Dr. Ashok Gadgil (pictured above) is designing fuel-efficient, low-emission cook stoves that require less than half the fuel of traditional cooking methods, preserving forests. The stoves also decrease the risk of violence many women face while collecting firewood. Private giving has funded this important research.
Meeting the Challenge of Parasitic Disease
Parasites are a danger to human health, affecting billions of people throughout the world. Understanding parasites' function at a molecular level can lead to new treatment options for a range of diseases, such as malaria, toxoplasmosis, and childhood diarrhea. With the support of a Chan Zuckerberg grant, a team of scientists from Stanford, UC San Francisco, Berkeley Lab, and CWI Amsterdam is applying a spectrum of imaging methods, including fluorescence light microscopy (FLM), soft X-ray tomography, and cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) and -microscopy (cryo-EM), to obtain precise images of parasites. Key to these investigations are the "Mixed-Scale Dense" machine learning algorithms, introduced by Berkeley Lab's Center for Advanced Mathematics for Energy Research Applications (CAMERA). These algorithms are used to derive and interpret the 3D structures obtained through these combined image sources.
Developing Breakthrough Technologies
A grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is supporting Berkeley Lab to develop compact, free-electron lasers that will serve as powerful and affordable X-ray sources for scientific discovery. Unlike conventional accelerators, which use radio waves, laser-plasma accelerators use optical lasers to accelerate electrons across short distances—only centimeters—enabling scientists to observe chemical reactions, visualize the flow of electrons, or watch biological processes unfold. This work has important implications for medical diagnostics. But access to this new technology is extremely limited. The grant supports Berkeley Lab’s efforts to significantly reduce the size and cost of these accelerators, thereby expanding access to this technology.
Seeing Into the Universe
Private donations can often leverage public funds by supporting complex, long-term scientific research. The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) requires specialized optics to capture spectra of the expanding universe. The lenses used for the telescopes are large and can take months to grind and polish. A bridge loan from the Heising-Simons Foundation allowed Berkeley Lab to get a head start. When federal funding is awarded, the project will be ready to go. By capturing the light of 30 million galaxies, DESI will provide a 3D map of the universe going back 10 billion years.
Nurturing the Next Generation of Scientists
Diverse teams create better science. We know that a more diverse and inclusive lab will help us build a stronger future. Berkeley Bridge Fellowships make it possible for UC Berkeley graduate students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds to gain valuable experience working shoulder-to-shoulder with leading scientists at Berkeley Lab. Many go on to science careers. Donors make these fellowships possible.