DOE User Facilities Enabling Science

Empowering an international community of scientists with the most advanced technologies

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science oversees the construction and operation of some of the nation’s most advanced scientific user facilities, located at national laboratories and universities. These include particle and nuclear physics accelerators, synchrotron light sources, neutron scattering facilities, supercomputers and high-speed computer networks, nanoscale science research centers, genome sequencing facilities, and advanced resources in imaging and analysis for biological and environmental systems. Guidelines for submitting proposals for access to these facilities are available from the individual centers.

Presented below are descriptions of some of the most important facilities for the Environmental System Science (ESS) program.

Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)

EMSL logoBy co-locating more than 150 premier experimental instruments and systems with supercomputing capabilities, EMSL is able to make multiple types of capabilities available to single investigators or multidisciplinary teams to study and model molecular to mesoscale hydro-biogeochemical processes. EMSL, located at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, has helped thousands of researchers use a multidisciplinary, collaborative approach to iterate between theory and experiment to solve important challenges in biogeochemistry and subsurface science, biological interactions and dynamics, and interactions at the interfaces of natural and engineered materials. EMSL’s Terrestrial and Subsurface Ecosystems (TSE) Science Theme focuses on the dynamics of nutrients, metabolites, and contaminants at biogeochemical interfaces in heterogeneous environments across multiple scales.

Joint Genome Institute (JGI)

JGI logo

Sequencing more than one trillion DNA base pairs per year, DOE JGI in Walnut Creek, California, provides state-of-the-art capabilities for genome sequencing and analysis. With more than 1,100 worldwide collaborators on active projects, DOE JGI is the preeminent facility for sequencing plants, microbes, and microbial communities that are foundational to energy and environmental research. DOE JGI’s Community Science Program (CSP) is designed to bring high-throughput sequencing to the scientific community at large.

Facilities Integrating Collaborations for User Science (FICUS)

FICUS logoFacilities Integrating Collaborations for User Science (FICUS) initiative was established to encourage and enable researchers to more easily integrate the expertise and capabilities of multiple user facilities stewarded by the DOE Office of Science into their research. It current participants include the EMSL, JGI, Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility, National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), and DOE Systems Biology Knowledgebase (KBase).

High-Performance Computing and Data Storage Facilities

ORNL Summit supercomputer photoThe Molecular Science Computing (MSC)  capability within EMSL provides an integrated production computing environment that supports a wide range of computational activities in environmental molecular research. DOE’s Environmental Systems Science Data Infrastructure for a Virtual Ecosystem (ESS-DIVE) provides an archive for subsurface and terrestrial ecosystem science data.

The DOE Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) Program supports several Office of Science user facilities for high-performance production computing and data storage. Access to the production computing systems and data storage capabilities are available through several processes. ASCR facilities include:

Synchrotron Light Sources

synchrotron light source photo

Synchrotron light sources at DOE national laboratories enable resolution of the structure of matter from the cellular level down to the atomic and molecular level using approaches not possible with conventional instrumentation. ESS’s primary synchrotron-based research efforts are located at the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC).

The ANL Wetland Hydro-biogeochemistry Science Focus Area elucidating the interplay among microbial metabolic activities, solution chemistry, and mineralogy contributing to element and contaminant transformation.

The SLAC Floodplain Hydro-Biogeochemistry Science Focus Area advancing predictive understanding of uranium subsurface biogeochemistry, fate, and transport.

Biomolecular Characterization and Imaging

structural biology facility photo

Structural biology and imaging resources—together with today’s systems biology approaches—are key capabilities for understanding the relationship between the genome, structure, function, and environmental interactions of plants and microbes important for energy and environmental missions. As part of its fundamental biology portfolio, the DOE Biological and Environmental Research (BER) Program supports a suite of experimental research technologies, methodologies, instruments, and computational capabilities at DOE facilities. The resolutions and scales provided by these resources enable studying and understanding biological structures and functional processes important to BER-funded investigators and centers. Capabilities of and contact information for each station are described at