Asmeret Asefaw Berhe Issues Letter of Farewell as Director of DOE Office of Science

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Following the news last week of her departure as director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science since May 2022, Dr. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe has issued a letter of farewell to her agency and White House colleagues. Dr. Berhe is currently on leave from the University of California, Merced where she holds the Ted and Jan Falasco Chair in Earth Sciences and Geology as a professor of soil biogeochemistry and served as associate dean for graduate education.

Dear colleagues,

As I depart the Office of Science to return to my academic position, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the amazing things we’ve done together over the past two years.

My time at the Office of Science has been incredible, and that is thanks to this team. Regardless of your particular job function, you are each part of the team that constantly expands the frontiers of science. Together, our work has made possible incredible discoveries and innovations and continues to inspire generations of young people to pursue rewarding STEM careers.

In short, you are changing the course of history.

I had the pleasure of attending a talk from Dr. Thomas Mason yesterday, in which he weaved together many threads of history to show how science and innovation are at the core of what has made our nation the world’s envy for nearly a century. It’s been the privilege of a lifetime to be part of the modern extension of that legacy, serving in this role as a champion for science. I am proud to be part of the effort to leverage the unmatched capabilities of our Department of Energy complex for the biggest challenges of our time – harnessing high performance computing and AI, combatting climate change, and closing the science and technology gaps that will allow us to reach the next generation of technologies.

There’s no way I could touch on everything worth mentioning from the past two years, but I’d like to highlight at least a few. We have welcomed the exascale era of computing and ushered in a new age of artificial intelligence. We have changed the way we do climate science in a community-centered, integrated way and expanded exascale-enabled climate modeling to address one of the most urgent crises of our lifetimes. We are transforming the way we study ultra-small and ultra-fast processes with the world’s most powerful X-ray laser. We are meeting the challenges of a new era for fusion energy innovation, while staying laser-focused on the remaining science and technology gaps, no matter the hype. We’re unlocking the most fundamental mysteries of the universe from neutrinos to quarks and gluons to the rarest of heavy elements. And we’re meeting critical national needs for isotopes that save lives and underlie emerging technologies.

We have done all of this while making our programs, our workforce, and our processes more inclusive, accessible, and equitable than ever before. We certainly still have further to go, but I am proud of how far we’ve come already. It’s not just the new initiatives – RENEW, FAIR, and PIER plans – it’s the hard work we’ve done to look at our own culture and processes and make changes where they’re needed.

I am so appreciative of the time and attention folks across the office are paying to meeting communities where they are with office hours, site visits, and conference engagements. All of these efforts demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that the federal resources we steward equitably serve the public.

My hope is that, long after my tenure in this position has ended, the Office of Science will continue to be a place where everyone doing all manner of jobs to enable science will have a sense of belonging and purpose.

I will continue to be a cheerleader for science and look forward to seeing the Office of Science continue to educate, inspire, and share the wonder of discovery with all stakeholders. Further, in a world impacted by the climate crisis, I hope the Office of Science will strive to be an example for how big science operations can also be sustainable.

I’m optimistic that the Office of Science and DOE will continue to stand strong to ensure that science doesn’t systematically exclude any community and instead brings in people from all walks of life to drive scientific advances.

Serving as the Director of Science will always be the honor of my lifetime. Being your colleague even more so. Thank you for making the last couple of years so meaningful.


Asmeret Asefaw Berhe