BER science continues to have broad benefits for society and for science. BER supports DOE's mission of world-class scientific research capacity by providing world-class, peer reviewed scientific results in biology and environmental science. Basic biological and environmental research has broad impacts on our health, our environment, and our energy future.
Today, with its Genomic Sciences Program and the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) now sequencing over four trillion genome base pairs per year, BER-supported researchers are using the powerful tools of contemporary systems biology to pursue the scientific breakthroughs needed for the development of cost-effective cellulosic biofuels. They are probing the role that microbes can play in environmental remediation and gaining critical insight into the terrestrial carbon cycle. Indeed, BER-sponsored researchers lead the world in the sequencing, study, and reengineering of microorganisms and plants with direct relevance to energy, climate, and environment
The three DOE Bioenergy Research Centers lead the world in fundamental biofuels research. This research is laying the foundation for a revolution in the technologies of biofuels production and contributing to unprecedented deepening of our fundamental knowledge of microbial and plant systems.
From the molecular to the field scale, BER’s Subsurface Biogeochemical Research program couples field site observation and experimentation with modeling in an iterative cycle to provide both a fundamental and a predictive understanding of the microbiological, geochemical and hydrologic processes that affect contaminant movement, nutrient availability for plants, and carbon cycling through the terrestrial environment.
BER is a major supporter of the Community Climate System Model, a leading U.S. climate model. Improvement of today’s climate models will depend heavily on gaining a more accurate understanding of climate processes, and BER’s program addresses two of the most critical and challenging areas of uncertainty in contemporary climate science: the impact of clouds and aerosols. BER supports the world’s leading facility for the study of clouds and aerosols, the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility, used by hundreds of scientists worldwide. The ARM instrumentation provide data and insights needed to model these key climate processes more accurately. At the same time, through its research program, BER is spearheading greater and more rapid integration of climate data into climate models. The Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison project at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, supported by BER, remains the gold standard in climate model evaluation and validation. In addition, BER is supporting cutting-edge research into the terrestrial carbon cycle, another major piece of the climate puzzle where there are many unknowns.
To provide a molecular-level understanding of the critical reactions that occur at solid, liquid and gaseous interfaces in the atmosphere through the subsurface, DOE’s Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) provides users with a wide range of world-class experimental instruments and a high performance computer to conduct iterative theoretical and experimental research. Used collectively, these resources enable the scientific community to design, create, analyze and simulate aerosol particle reactions; biochemical processes in microbes, plants and animal cells; contaminant, mineral and microbial interactions; biomarkers for environmental contaminants and disease; and new catalytic materials for microelectronics, fuel cells and hydrogen storage.