Science and Technology Making Headlines

Sept. 1, 2023

CRISPR for Cows

The IGI intend to develop and apply precision microbiome editing to address two key areas of need that are linked by a root cause, problem-causing microbes; these are childhood asthma and agricultural methane emissions. (Image: iStock)


CRISPR for Cows

In 2006, two University of California (UC) Berkeley scientists – Professors Jillian Banfield and Jennifer Doudna – met for coffee at the Free Speech Café, located on campus. In the years since, their individual research contributions have shaped the fields of genomics and microbiology, transforming our understanding of how life functions on our planet.

As a collective, they’re now embarking on an adventurous $70 million project at the Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI), part of UC Berkeley. The collaborative project combines two cutting-edge technologies, developed in Doudna and Banfield’s respective labs, to address our world’s greatest challenges using its smallest inhabitants.

The IGI is a joint research effort comprising institutions such as UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco, with affiliates at UC Davis, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Gladstone Institutes and other institutions. It was founded by Doudna in 2014 on the UC Berkeley campus.

Seismometers detect bombs

A school building damaged from shelling in the city of Chernihiv, Ukraine. Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images

Seismometers detect bombs in real-time

Existing seismometers in Ukraine – normally used to monitor nuclear weapons tests or detect earthquakes – have been repurposed to detect the times and locations of more than 1200 explosions in provinces near Kyiv. The explosive power registered by the seismometers also provides clues about the ammunition or weapons behind each blast.

“We’re automatically processing data and seeing explosions almost as they happen,” says Ben Dando at NORSAR, a seismic research foundation in Norway. “That has never been done in an active conflict in real-time before.”

Dando and his colleagues started out by looking for unusual explosions near Ukraine’s nuclear power plants in February 2022. They soon realized that they were picking up a wide variety of explosions as battles raged and Russian airstrikes targeted Ukrainian cities.

Daniel McCoy

Daniel McCoy, a UW assistant professor of atmospheric science, received a two-year $998,587 DOE grant to study Earth system models as the foundation of how to predict what the global environment on Earth will look like in future decades. Credit: UW.

Modeling future Earth

Understanding and predicting the global environment are critical to inform decisions across infrastructure, energy and agriculture. To understand and predict the global environment, global models are needed.

To better tackle this issue, Daniel McCoy, a University of Wyoming assistant professor of atmospheric science, is looking at Earth system models (ESMs) as the foundation of how to predict what Earth will look like in future decades.

McCoy received a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant worth $998,587 over two years for his project titled “Creating the Framework for the Next-Generation Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) at PROCEED (Perturbed Physics Ensemble Regression Optimization Center for ESM Evaluation and Development).” The grant starts Sept. 1 and ends Aug. 31, 2025.

The group will work with scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Additionally, the grant will have an external advisory panel, including scientists at the U.K. Meteorological Office, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Delft University of Technology.

Jose Hernandez

NASA Astronaut and former LLNL engineer Jose Hernandez is the subject of a new biopic coming out in September. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

LLNL Astronaut José Hernández on silver screen

From the fields to space and now to the silver screen, a new movie chronicling the life of Stockton astronaut José Hernández is set for a September release date.

In an announcement Tuesday, Amazon Prime Video said that its new film, "A Million Miles Away" will be available on the streaming platform starting Sept. 15. It will also be available in select theaters on Sept. 8.

Hernández, who celebrated his 61st birthday in early August, was born in French Camp but calls Stockton home. As a kid, he worked in fields with his family, eventually graduating from Franklin High School, the University of the Pacific and UC Santa Barbara.

After years of work at the Lawerence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Hernández joined NASA's Johnson Space Center in 2001. In 2009 Hernández joined six other astronauts on the Space Shuttle Discovery for a 15-day trip to the International Space Station.

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The Lab Report is a weekly compendium of media reports on science and technology achievements at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Though the Laboratory reviews items for overall accuracy, the reporting organizations are responsible for the content in the links below.