A few changes in leadership took effect on February 14 as described below.
Susan Hubbard, the founding Associate Laboratory Director (ALD) for the Earth and Environmental Sciences Area (EESA), left Berkeley Lab to begin a new role as the Deputy Laboratory Director for Science and Technology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) on March 1. Under her leadership during the six years since EESA was formed and she began as its founding ALD, EESA has grown in size, expertise, and impact, and broadened its involvement in many topics, such as AI for Earth and environment, critical minerals, mountainous hydroclimate, ecotechnologies, wildfire, subsurface energy storage, negative emission technologies, and water-energy. As Deputy for Science and Technology for ORNL, Hubbard’s responsibilities will encompass ORNL’s diverse research portfolio, including computing and computational sciences, materials science, environmental and biological research, energy science and technology, isotope research and development, fission and fusion energy, neutron sciences and national security sciences. Berkeley Lab has already started an international search for the next EESA ALD.
With Susan Hubbard’s departure, Jens Birkholzer has transitioned to the role of interim Associate Laboratory Director for EESA. An internationally recognized expert in subsurface energy applications and environmental impact assessment, Birkholzer served as the Director for the Energy Geosciences Division (EGD) in EESA since 2015, a role that he will resume once a new EESA Associate Laboratory Director has been named. With a staff of about 200, EGD has a significant research portfolio in fundamental and environmental geosciences, and subsurface energy resources. Birkholzer received his Ph.D. in water resources, hydrology, and soil science from Aachen University of Technology in Germany in 1994. He joined Berkeley Lab in 1994, left for a management position in his native Germany in 1999, and eventually returned to Berkeley Lab in 2001. He has over 400 scientific publications, more than 150 of which are in peer-reviewed journals, in addition to numerous research reports.
Peter Nico will assume the role of interim Energy Geosciences Division (EGD) Director during the time that Jens Birkholzer serves as interim ALD. Nico received his Ph.D. in Agriculture and Environmental Chemistry from UC Davis and carried out his postdoc at Stanford. He came to Berkeley Lab in August 2005 from a faculty position in the chemistry department of CSU Stanislaus to lead the laboratory’s portion of BER’s Environmental Synchrotron program. Since then, he has been involved in multiple EESA projects including the BER Belowground Biogeochemistry and Watershed Function SFA, and projects in the Nuclear Energy Program, Geothermal Program, and the Geologic Carbon Storage Program. Nico served as an EESA Geochemistry Department Head and currently serves as the EGD Resilient Energy Water and Infrastructure Program Domain lead. Peter is also an Adjunct in the Department of Environmental, Science Policy, and Management at UCB.