Two EESA scientists were honored with Berkeley Lab Director’s Awards at a ceremony on November 15 in Building 50. Romy Chakraborty, Ecology Department head, and EESA Staff Scientist Boris Faybishenko, are among 15 individuals who received this year’s awards from Lab Director Mike Witherell.
The Director’s Awards program recognizes Lab employees each year for exemplary accomplishments in areas of leadership, collaboration, multi-disciplinary science, cross-divisional projects, and commitment to excellence in support of the Lab’s mission and strategic goals.
Learn more about Romy and Boris below.
Romy Chakraborty, Ecology Department Head, 2019 Laureate, Berkeley Lab Director’s Award for Outreach
From training undergraduate students in scientific techniques as a Ph.D. student in the early 2000s to igniting scientific curiosity among middle and high schoolers now as head of the Ecology Department at Berkeley Lab, Romy Chakraborty admits to her long-standing passion for making science accessible.
“I love talking about science in a way that helps people understand complex concepts,” she says. “I really want them to relate to scientific research in a way that they can connect to and that is tangible for them.”
As an environmental microbiologist, Chakraborty has pioneered techniques to identify unique microbes and microbial interactions taking place in diverse ecosystems.
In recognition of her enduring fervor for outreach and mentorship, Chakraborty received the Berkeley Lab Director’s Award for Exceptional Achievement in the area of Outreach.
Through her roles at Berkeley Lab and across the scientific community, Chakraborty has mentored various California community college students, served on national selection committees awarding fellowships to underrepresented students pursuing graduate education in science and engineering, mentored several undergraduate, graduate, and Postdoctoral scholars, and talked to local school students about what it’s like being a scientist through Berkeley Lab’s ‘Meet With a Scientist’ program.
With a mission to make science more inclusive, Chakraborty has chaired a Berkeley Lab committee focused on empowering women scientists, and serves on Lab-wide and Area committees on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability.
In spite of being a full-time scientist, these engagements “reinstate in my mind my passion for making science more accessible and inclusive,” she said. “This award just chases more responsibility to continue to do that.”
Boris Faybishenko, EESA Staff Scientist, 2019 Laureate, Berkeley Lab Director’s Award for Societal Impact
Boris Faybishenko has immersed over more than 25 years of his life in understanding radioactive contamination, nuclear waste disposal challenges, and providing bioremediation solutions.
Boris served as a Technical Expert for the International Atomic Energy Agency, and his expert advice was sought during a feasibility study for remediation and decommissioning the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant cooling pond, which was heavily contaminated with radioactive materials. At the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford nuclear facility in Washington State, he led field studies conducted by the team of scientists from Berkeley Lab and other DOE national labs working to identify ways for limiting chromium contamination of groundwater and its transport to the Columbia River.
He also led preparation of the Fifth Worldwide Review of nuclear waste disposal programs in geological formations across the world.
These efforts have led to the development of several environmental clean-up methods which have served to benefit societal health and safety.
In recognition of his leadership and expertise lent to national and international panels tackling grave contamination challenges, Faybishenko received the Director’s Award for Exceptional Achievement in the area of Societal Impact this November.
“I believe teamwork and collaboration are important for achieving societal impact,” he said. “This award is a token of motivation and encouragement for other scientists to continue their work to achieve a clearer cleaner planet Earth and a better environment for everyone.”