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Home > Press > Molecular science research critical to DOE

Allison A. Campbell, director of EMSL, the Department of Energy's Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory
Allison A. Campbell, director of EMSL, the Department of Energy's Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory

Abstract:
Allison A. Campbell, director of EMSL, the Department of Energy's Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, testified today before the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment of the House Committee on Science and Technology about how EMSL's unique facilities and instruments help DOE meet its mission goals through biological research.

Molecular science research critical to DOE

Richland, WA | Posted on September 23rd, 2009

She testified before an open hearing titled "Biological Research for Energy and Medical Applications at the Department of Energy Office of Science."

Campbell's testimony discussed how EMSL projects that focus on the events occurring at the level of molecules contribute to the DOE's missions in developing biologically inspired fuels, understanding the climate, and cleaning up or repairing Earth's ecosystems. These explorations include:

* Uncovering new genes involved in photosynthesis, nature's method of converting the sun's energy into more useful forms,
* Examining how bacterial communities in the ocean contribute to the cycling of nutrients through the Earth's air, water and soil,
* Studying the molecular steps that proteins in the eye take to transform light into sight,
* Developing tools to study the physiology of living cells in real time,
* Investigating how bacteria slow or stop radioactive contaminant migration in the soil.

"New understanding in the biological sciences is driven by transformational approaches that allow scientists to view chemical and biological systems — from single molecules or organisms to complex structures or communities, from static to dynamic processes, and from laboratory test tubes to the internal world of living organisms," said Campbell. "EMSL brings together theoreticians with expertise in computer modeling of molecular processes and experimentalists from the physical and life sciences to work side-by-side on these problems."

Campbell discussed how more than 10,000 researchers from around the world have used EMSL. She discussed who these users are and what kind of scientific results they have produced. In addition, Campbell described how EMSL is able to develop technologies in-house, such as in creating DOE's premiere computational chemistry software known as NWChem, which runs on EMSL's high-performance supercomputer called Chinook, and EMSL's world-class mass spectrometry capability for the study of proteins. EMSL is located on PNNL's campus in Richland, Wash.

Other witnesses included Anna Palmisano, DOE Associate Director of Science for Biological and Environmental Research; Jehanne Simon-Gillo, Director of Facilities and Project Management of the Office of Science's Office of Nuclear Physics; Jay D. Keasling, Acting Deputy Laboratory Director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and CEO of the DOE Joint BioEnergy Institute; and Aristides A. N. Patrinos, President of Synthetic Genomics.

About Allison A. Campbell

Trained as a physical chemist, Campbell joined PNNL in 1990 as a postdoctoral researcher. Her research interests in such topics as bioactive coatings and bone substitutes reveal a passion for structures and surfaces - for example, how to promote or inhibit mineral growth, or how a surface's chemistry affect how molecules rest there. She has been EMSL's director since May 2005.

Read Campbell's full testimony here www.pnl.gov/news/release.aspx?id=400. A PDF version of the testimony is available upon request.

####

About Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is a Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory where interdisciplinary teams advance science and technology and deliver solutions to America's most intractable problems in energy, national security and the environment. PNNL employs 4,250 staff, has a $918 million annual budget, and has been managed by Ohio-based Battelle since the lab's inception in 1965.

EMSL, the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, is a national scientific user facility sponsored by the Department of Energy's Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research program that is located at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. EMSL offers an open, collaborative environment for scientific discovery to researchers around the world. EMSL's technical experts and suite of custom and advanced instruments are unmatched. Its integrated computational and experimental capabilities enable researchers to realize fundamental scientific insights and create new technologies.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Mary Beckman
PNNL
(509) 375-3688

Copyright © Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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