Genomic Science Program
U.S. Department of Energy | Office of Science | Biological and Environmental Research Program

Scientific User Research Facilities and Biological and Environmental Research: Review and Recommendations

A Report from the Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee

  • Print Publication: October 2018
  • Report Download: PDF


This report summarizes findings of a subcommittee of the Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee (BERAC) to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), assessing the role of User Facilities in supporting research funded by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) within DOE’s Office of Science. Specifically, the subcommittee evaluated:

  1. Optimal alignment of User Facilities to support the current BER research portfolio,
  2. Optimal alignment of User Facilities to support future research needs identified in the 2017 Grand Challenges Report,
  3. Development of additional User Facility capabilities, and
  4. Opportunities to collaborate between User Facilities (internal to DOE and also external interagency partners).

The subcommittee also evaluated five primary topical areas within the scope of BER research: Biological Systems Science, Earth and Environmental Systems, Microbial to Earth System Pathways, Energy Sustainability and Resilience, and Computation and Data Analysis (see details below). User Facilities are those institutions, installations, and resources that are available to the scientific community to support research by providing access to state-of-the-art analytical tools, field experiments, and computational resources. Overall, BER’s User Facilities—the Joint Genome Institute (JGI), Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL), and Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) research facility—provide essential and unique support well aligned with much of the current BER research portfolio. Better integration between facilities, strategic investments in human resources and equipment, and better communication of the available capabilities to more members of the scientific community will improve how User Facilities are situated to address the 2017 Grand Challenges.