The Biosciences Strategic Programs Development Group (SPDG) leads, manages, and executes program development activities to source and build new research programs in the Area. We work with Technical Champions to build programs from a nascent idea to funding opportunity.
Who we are
Katy Christiansen, Head of the Strategic Programs Development Group
Katy leads program development activities and strategic planning for the Biosciences Area. She develops and implements program development processes, including building new multi-institutional research programs with other national laboratories. In this role, she has also led strategic planning processes for Berkeley Lab and DOE. Katy was a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at DOE in the Bioenergy Technologies Office from 2012 to 2014, where she served as a technical adviser and assisted in development of funding opportunities. Katy pursued postdoctoral research in the plant systems biology group at the Joint BioEnergy Institute at Berkeley Lab and earned her PhD in plant science from Indiana University, Bloomington.
Millicent (Millie) Firestone, Deputy Head of the Office of National and Homeland Security (ONHS) at Berkeley Lab
Millie serves as the primary point-of-contact for the facilitation of interfacing between laboratory management and defense and security program managers at the federal level (DOE-NNSA, DoD, DHS, DNI, CIA) for chemistry, biology, environmental science, and materials science disciplines. She also coordinates Lab-wide working groups, facilitates program capture, and participates in strategic program development, with a particular emphasis in biosecurity and biodefense. Prior to joining Berkeley Lab in 2020, Millie was a strategic hire for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), recruited to lead the soft matter effort at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies in the Materials Physics and Applications Division. During her time at LANL, she was a member of a large, multidisciplinary team recognized for their efforts by being awarded a NNSA Defense Program Award for significant contributions to stockpile stewardship. Before joining LANL, Millie led a DOE-BES-MSE program in Biomolecular Materials at Argonne National Laboratory in the Materials Sciences Division for 13+ years. She received her PhD in chemistry from Northwestern University, and was an academic postdoctoral fellow in biophysics at the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign. Millie has published over 110 referred publications in the fields of soft materials, biomolecular materials, X-ray and neutron scattering, and synthesis of nanomaterials under extreme conditions (detonations).
Lauren Jabusch, Program Developer (Environmental Biology)
Lauren nurtures audacious ideas in environmental biology into supported research programs and tracks the Biosciences Strategic Plan. Previously, she was a postdoc at Berkeley Lab on the m-CAFEs project in the Northen Lab. She has a decade of experience in nonprofit and academic sustainability advocacy and has worked in the University of California system, statewide in California, and nationally. Lauren’s contributions to the UC system in climate advocacy and diversity, equity, and inclusion were recognized by former UC President Janet Napolitano when Lauren received the UC President’s Award for Outstanding Student Leadership in 2016. Lauren earned a MS and PhD in biological systems engineering at UC Davis.
Technical Champions are researchers who generate new science programs with SPDG staff. They may propose ideas, which are vetted by Biosciences leadership. They are committed to this future research, an intellectual technical champion in the true sense of the phrase. SPDG can help Technical Champions financially support their program development time and resources.
Who has access to SPDG support?
- SPDG is supported by the Biosciences Area
When should you engage with the SPDG?
- When you have an idea that needs SPDG support (see intake form and flow chart below)
- During Biosciences Area strategic plan visioning sessions and goal reporting periods
- When you are thinking about writing a white paper
- During SPDG workshops
How do I share my ideas with the SPDG?
- Via the Google intake form, which includes a checklist of what SPDG supports
What is the process from idea to opportunity for research investment?
What is the typical timeline for program development?
- 3 years