Pathbreaker Program

Berkeley Lab - CSU East Bay Master Student Research Program


Jennifer Bahramian, who participated in the year one cohort, deployed gas sensors at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in 2018 to track carbon stored in the revived salt marsh at the East Bay coastal renovation site. Read more about her project here. Photo by Priyanka Runwal


  • Enjoy the unique experience of working at one of the world's leading scientific laboratories;

  • Engage as a team member on a cutting-edge Berkeley Lab Earth & Environmental Sciences project and meet peers who have a similar passion for science;

  • Receive mentorship from a Berkeley Lab scientist;

  • Have access to world-class research facilities;

  • And receive professional development enrichment opportunities and career networking!

The Pathbreaker Program
A joint program between Berkeley Lab & Cal State University East Bay (CSUEB)

This Program will support a one-year research experience for Masters students with Berkeley Lab, including support for one academic year, followed by a full-time summer internship. Interns will be selected based on proposal quality, alignment of proposal topic with active Berkeley Lab topics, and collaborative potential between CSUEB Faculty and Berkeley Lab PI. The program is intended to cultivate a diverse, talented cadre of ambassadors for Berkeley Lab, CSUEB and the STEM workforce pipeline. All full-time CSUEB graduate students and undergraduate seniors with plans to start a Masters in the College of Science in Fall 2021 are eligible for this program. Students need to be in good academic standing and intend to register for special registration units (research, thesis or independent study). Underrepresented minorities are especially encouraged to apply.

Applications are due on May 14, 2021. Successful applicants will have an opportunity to explore support for a second year with the Laboratory mentor through a separate process. The application package must include:

(1) a 3-page research plan approved by the CSUEB faculty advisor;

(2) a 1-page reference letter from the faculty advisor;

(3) a brief commitment statement from the identified Berkeley Lab scientist who will provide mentorship during the program period in collaboration with the student’s CSUEB academic advisor;

(4) an (unofficial) academic transcript from CSUEB; and

(5) a curriculum vitae for the student applicant (maximum 3 pages).

Please find additional information on next steps to take and the specific application process under the "Award, Eligibility, Application" tab on this website and here.

In the 4th year of this program, internships will start in the Fall 2021 semester and will run through the end of Summer 2022. This fourth round will continue to focus on the Earth and Environmental Sciences theme. With success, this program may continue and expand to include other scientific disciplines.


Key Dates:

  • Tue April 6, 2021 - Launch date for 2021/2022

  • Extended to Fri May 14, 2021! - Applications Due

  • Extended to Tue Jun 1, 2021 - Finalists Announced

  • Aug 1, 2021-Aug 19, 2022 - Program Dates


"During the Berkeley Lab-CSUEB program, I had a ton of positive experiences. I was able to see/experience the day-to day-activities and duties in which a scientist carries out each day. The internship made it possible for me to attend and present a poster at the Goldschmidt Conference in Barcelona in August 2019. The conference was a great opportunity for me to learn about a variety of research in my field, network with like-minded scientists, and improve my communication skills. After the internship, I completed my Masters in Environmental Geosciences at CSUEB in Spring 2020, and I am now working as a Geochemist at Berkeley Lab with Brimstone Energy, supported by Cyclotron Road — I'm so happy to be back! During my internship, I learned a great deal about analytical chemistry through experiments and analysis while working with my mentor Dr. Patricia Fox, which made me a great candidate for my current position.

~Nydra Harvey-Costello

2018/2019 Cohort

"Being able to work with and learn from my mentor Dr. Housen Chu and the rest of the AmerifFux team was an amazing opportunity. I learned how to use the eddy covariance method to monitor carbon and energy fluxes, while strengthening my data analysis skill set. I just had the first paper from my Master's thesis published, with my second manuscript currently under review. I am working on another manuscript that encompasses the work I conducted while a part of the Berkeley Lab-CSUEB internship program. In May 2021, I will graduate with my M.S. in Biology from CSUEB and in September and start a PhD at UC Davis in the Horticulture and Agronomy Program. I still continue to collaborate closely with Dr. Chu and I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunities provided by this internship experience!"

~Tommy Fenster

2019/2020 Cohort

"Being a part of this program was a great experience for me. It was very rewarding to work together with my intern Aarohi and see her tremendous growth through the program. I loved how the program was structured to build a more robust relationship between the mentor and the mentee and I look forward to seeing the continuous success of this program."

~Ji Yeon Li, Research Associate

2020/2021 LBNL Mentor

"I was thrilled to serve as a mentor to Tommy Fenster, an enthusiastic and dedicated graduate student from CSUEB. Tommy showed his passion and commitment to learning about ecosystem carbon cycling and techniques to study carbon and energy fluxes. I enjoyed mentoring Tommy by providing opportunities for him to gain expertise and experience through field work, meetings, coding exercises, and conference presentations. I really enjoyed the interactive and collaborative mentoring experience. Moreover, I'm so proud of his accomplishments since the internship, including getting accepted into UCD's Horticulture and Agronomy PhD program."

~Housen Chu, Research Scientist

2019/2020 LBNL Mentor