students at berkeley lab

Professor of Biology Elizabeth Pilon-Smits (background), with students, during

their beam time at Berkeley National Lab Advanced Light Source. 

Submitted by Elizabeth Pilon-Smits

Four members of Professor Elizabeth Pilon-Smits’ lab, including Pilon-Smits; research associate Ali El Mehdawi; and graduate students Leonardo Lima and Gavin Stonehouse, spent their spring break in California, but not at the beach. They completed X-ray microprobe analysis at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab Advanced Light Source, located on a hill overlooking San Francisco Bay.

The researchers analyzed frozen intact plant material from a variety of species for detecting spatial distribution and chemical forms of selenium, as well as other elements. Research time at synchrotrons like the Advanced Light Source is precious, since there are only eight such facilities in the United States.

However, beam time is free to researchers after their proposal is approved. Research at the Advanced Light Source goes on 24-7. The beam must go on at all times, and researchers work day and night to collect their data. It is hard work, but the results are worth some sleep deprivation, according to the team.

An example is the Alyssum simplex leaf shown here, taken just after midnight on March 15.

students with leaf data

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