Berkeley Lab researchers win 7 awards for research, development

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Researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory won seven of 100 annual awards for their contributions to the field of research and development, the lab announced Tuesday.

The R&D 100 Awards recognize 100 technology projects by research labs, universities and companies that have made major impacts, such as when the projects are adapted by companies, widely used in public or used by a specific group to accomplish a project.

Berkeley Lab deputy director Horst Simon said the seven awards won this year, bringing the lab’s total to 80 R&D 100 Awards, is an excellent result for the lab, which usually averages between two and four awards per year. Seven awards “speaks highly of the creativeness” of the researchers, Simon said.

“It really shows we’re always at the forefront of technological development,” said Berkeley Lab researcher Gao Liu, who led the development of high-energy-density rechargeable batteries with Bay Area technology company Zeptor Corporation — a project that won one of the seven awards.

Simon attributed Berkeley Lab’s success to the scientists’ submission rate. Submissions involve substantial effort and a collaboration between scientists and technical writers, he added.

The value of the R&D 100 Award lies in the publicity and recognition it gains for the researchers, Simon said. The awards can legitimize the researchers’ work to sponsors and stakeholders, potentially gaining them funding opportunities. It can also help with recruiting researchers for the lab.

The R&D 100 Awards differ from other scientific awards because of an extra entertainment factor, Liu said.

“It’s really fun and the award is like the Oscars of science,” Liu said. “You go there and walk on red carpet. You get on stage. You feel like you’re a celebrity.”

Led by Samveg Saxena, one of the award-winning projects is a vehicle-to-grid simulator. It is downloadable as an app and can recommend types of electric vehicles based on users’ driving patterns. The technology analyzes electric vehicles in the context of the power system and looks at macro-level analyses and impacts of electric vehicles.

“It definitely gives us a little more recognition and it’s well thought of in industry as well as academia, so I imagine it’ll allow us to get our V2G Sim and this technology in the hands of more people as a result,” said Berkeley Lab researcher Jason MacDonald, who was involved in the development of the technology. “There’s more buzz around it and it’s been vetted that it’s a quality piece of tech.”

Other recognized projects include a technology for exploring subsurfaces, a way to analyze and visualize mass spectroscopy data, and a tool for the higher precision calibration of a broad range of optical instruments.

“We’re doing work that is relevant and has immediate impact,” Simon said.

Contact Michelle Leung at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @michellesleung.