Karen Davies, a staff scientist in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) Division, is one of six Berkeley Lab scientists selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science to receive significant funding through its Early Career Research Program. The scientists are each expected to receive grants of up to $2.5 million over five years to cover year-round salary plus research expenses.
Davies’ focus is on protein structure and bioenergetics, which includes the study of the flow of energy in living organisms. Her award is for “Structure of the Cyanobacterial NAD(P)H Dehydrogenase Complex (NDH-1) and Its Role in Cyclic Electron Flow and Carbon Dioxide Hydration,” selected by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences.
Davies will use electron cryo-tomography to study one particular protein complex that is thought to be a key component in electron flow in photosynthesis. The data generated from this research will improve the engineering of cyanobacteria for designer bio-products, such as biofuels and hydrocarbons for plastic production, and could enable the design of organisms or synthetic systems to soak up the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere or from industrial and vehicle exhaust.
The Early Career Research program, now in its ninth year, is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work. The six Berkeley Lab recipients are among a total of 84 recipients selected this year, including 30 from DOE’s national laboratories. This year’s awards bring to 36 the total number of Berkeley Lab scientists who have received Early Career Research Program awards since 2010.
Read about the other awardees in the News Center.