Antoine SnijdersBerkeley Lab’s Antoine Snijders searches for life

In his Life Sciences Division laboratory at DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Antoine Snijders studies responses of cells to low-dose radiation, probing for clues that might advance our understanding of breast cancer or protect astronauts on deep space missions to Mars. On his off-hours, he often finds himself working on mysteries of a very different kind, searching for missing persons as a volunteer with the Contra Costa County Search and Rescue team.

A native of Holland, Snijders came to Berkeley Lab in 2008 after a ten-year career in cancer research at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF). His lab work focuses on determining the mechanisms that might either predispose or protect an individual from low-dose radiation-induced breast cancer. He works with the Lab’s Andrew Wyrobek to develop efficient ways to use blood samples to gauge radiation exposure.

An avid hiker, Snijders took on rescue work to be with volunteers who share a deep dedication to finding missing people “This is an opportunity to do something that can really have an impact on someone’s life. It’s good if you find someone alive and well,” he says, like the time his team was first to reach a missing mushroom hunter in the Coastal Range of Northern California who had been lost for days in heavy brush and steep gullies. “We brought him back up to the rescue vehicles, and yes, he was very grateful.”

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David Radford delivers the germanium oxide detectors to the Majorana Demonstrator project.Research effort deep underground could sort out cosmic-scale mysteries

DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has begun delivery of germanium-76 detectors to an underground laboratory in South Dakota in a team research effort that might explain the puzzling imbalance between matter and antimatter generated by the Big Bang.

 “It might explain why we’re here at all,” said David Radford, who oversees specific ORNL activities in the Majorana Demonstrator research effort. “It could help explain why the matter that we are made of exists.”

Radford, a researcher in ORNL's Physics Division and an expert in germanium detectors, has been delivering germanium-76 to Sanford Underground Research Laboratory (SURF) in Lead, S.D., for the project. After navigating a Valentine’s Day blizzard on the first two-day drive from Oak Ridge, Radford made a second delivery in March.

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See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 389  |
  • May 27, 2013
  • DNA-guided assembly yields novel ribbon-like nanostructures

    DNA-tethered nanorods link up like rungs on a ribbonlike ladder—a new mechanism for linear self-assembly that may be unique to the nanoscale. Scientists at the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN) at DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory have discovered that DNA “linker” strands coax nano-sized rods to line up in way unlike any other spontaneous arrangement of rod-shaped objects. The arrangement—with the rods forming “rungs” on ladder-like ribbons linked by multiple DNA strands—results from the collective interactions of the flexible DNA tethers and may be unique to the nanoscale. The research could result in the fabrication of new nanostructured materials with desired properties.

    “This is a completely new mechanism of self-assembly that does not have direct analogs in the realm of molecular or microscale systems,” said Brookhaven physicist Oleg Gang, lead author on a paper describing the research in ACS Nano.

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  • Quantum tricks drive magnetic switching into the fast lane

    Magnetic structure in a colossal magneto-resistive manganite is switched from antiferromagnetic to ferromagnetic ordering during about 100 femtosecond (10-15 s) laser pulse photo-excitation. With time so short and the laser pulses still interacting with magnetic moments, the magnetic switching is driven quantum mechanically – not thermally. This potentially opens the door to terahertz (1012 hertz) and faster memory writing/reading speeds. Researchers at DOE’s Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University, and the University of Crete in Greece have found a new way to switch magnetism that is at least 1000 times faster than currently used in magnetic memory technologies. Magnetic switching is used to encode information in hard drives, magnetic random access memory and other computing devices. The discovery potentially opens the door to terahertz and faster memory speeds.

    Ames Laboratory physicist Jigang Wang and his team used short laser pulses to create ultra-fast changes in the magnetic structure, within quadrillionths of a second (femtosecond), from anti-ferromagnetic to ferromagnetic ordering in colossal magnetoresistive materials, which are promising for use in next-generation memory and logic devices. 

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  • Would you hire this catalyst?

    Researchers use an electrochemical cell to determine the overpotential or energy efficiency of a catalyst reaction that converts electrical energy into chemical energy, specifically the bond between two hydrogen atoms. This work was done at the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by DOE's Office of Basic Energy Sciences. If you want to learn more about research at the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, follow us on Twitter @CME_EFRC.NA catalyst that quickly produces chemical fuel from wind energy but uses more energy than it stores won't get the job; however, scientists didn't have a way to measure the energy wasted in certain liquids, until DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory devised a quick, elegant technique. This method, by Dr. John Roberts and Dr. R. Morris Bullock, was published in Inorganic Chemistry.

    "We could make some educated guesses and do back-of-the-envelope calculations as to over potential in organic solvents, but it wasn't good enough," said Bullock, Director of the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by DOE's Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

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  • Experimental check yields surprising new result

    This graph shows the predicted values (colored lines) and measured values (colored points) for the nuclei of hydrogen, helium, carbon and lead. Note that the points lie close to the lines for all of the nuclei except lead. It's thought that this surprising result is due to energetic electrons interacting more profusely with nuclei that contain more protons than those with fewer, a phenomenon that was known but was not expected to play a role in this measurement. A routine experimental check has revealed that energetic electrons may interact more profusely with nuclei that contain more protons than those with fewer. Though not completely unexpected, the researchers were surprised to find evidence of the effect in this experimental check. The result comes from explorations of the lead nucleus conducted at DOE's Jefferson Lab, and it could provide insight into heavy matter.

    The scientists got the result from experiments that consisted of banging spinning electrons into various nuclei and observing the aftermath.

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  • Millions of environmental records available to the public

    Millions of environmental records available to the public Today, instant access to information is taken for granted. The national labs are no exception; local data users expect immediate access to their data. DOE's Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) made its twelve million environmental data records accessible to scientists, remediation teams and the public at a mouse click.

    LANL successfully integrated all of the environmental data into a single, cloud-based, web-accessible system combining transparency to the public with the immediate access required by technical staff at

    The newly integrated data span a wide range of media including air, soil, sediment, biota, and water; various analytes, time periods and varying formats that were formerly contained in scattered databases. The unconsolidated information made comprehensive work with the data impossible.

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