Paul Adams, Associate Laboratory Director, has appointed Katy Christiansen to the role of Area Deputy for Science following a national search. Christiansen, who has served as Interim Area Deputy since 2021, will work with Adams to support the Biosciences Area’s scientific mission and be responsible for helping to plan and execute our long-range strategy. She will continue as the Laboratory Relationship Manager to the DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), ensuring effective management of BETO-funded projects at the Lab and providing strategic input on BETO’s activities.
“Katy is an integral member of our Area leadership team who has already excelled in the Deputy role over the last two years,” said Adams. “I am thrilled that she has accepted my offer to be the permanent Area Deputy for Science. Katy is an excellent strategist and consensus builder, with a scientific background and experience working at DOE. I am looking forward to her partnership in helping to develop the next 10-year Biosciences Strategic Plan.”
Christiansen first joined Berkeley Lab in 2008 as a postdoctoral researcher at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), and returned to the Biosciences Area in 2014 to help lead strategic planning efforts after two years as a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at BETO. Christiansen has been the Head of the Strategic Programs Development Group (SPDG) since 2020; she will continue to lead that group which will be instrumental in long-range planning for Biosciences related to the Lab’s and Area’s missions.
Christiansen also spearheaded the formulation, production, and distribution of the Lab’s December 2020 SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 10-year Multidisciplinary Strategic Research Plan and led a multi–national lab team, Designing the Bioeconomy for Decarbonization. In addition, she co-led the strategy and logistics organizing committee for the Second Plant Single-cell Solutions for Energy and the Environment Workshop held in April 2021.
In the past year, Christiansen applied Biosciences’ strategic planning process as she guided the effort to create a forward-looking strategic plan for the Agile BioFoundry, leading colleagues from seven national labs in the development of strategies to support industry commercialization of new biofuels and bioproducts. Most recently, she led the team that compiled, produced, and released the 10-year Summary Report of the Biosciences Scientific Strategic Plan 2013–2023.
Christiansen’s leadership is vital to two programs that train Area scientists to understand and influence funding opportunities and to successfully interact with federal program managers. She conducts an annual program development module series that focuses on various aspects of funding, and the Fresh Faces initiative that gives early career researchers the opportunity to become more familiar with federal funding agencies.
In the past year, Christiansen has participated in the Center for Research, Excellence, and Diversity in Team Science (CREDITS) Community of Practice, helping to develop tools to establish and promote psychological safety in diverse teams. She has used these methods to transform the best practices of the SPDG, which will inform the Area’s new strategic planning process and ensure it is ground-up and inclusive.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue working with people across the Area to shape our scientific strategy,” said Christiansen. “I am grateful that my postdoc at JBEI kicked off this phase of my career and it has been an honor to be a part of how the Area has grown since then. I am particularly excited about the prospect of working with colleagues to explore new research directions and to see our future program development efforts succeed.”