There are newer employer reviews for Lawrence Berkeley Lab

 

Used to be a great place; has been on a constant decline recently

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Former Employee - Research Scientist in Berkeley, CA
Former Employee - Research Scientist in Berkeley, CA

I worked at Lawrence Berkeley Lab full-time (more than 5 years)

Pros

-Still home to some top people
-great location
-close to uc Berkeley

Cons

-constantly declining doe funding forced many great people to early retirement and young and promising had to look for jobs elsewhere (luckily the silicon valley is next door and needs smart people)
-had many lay offs recently: the prestige is compromised
- extremely bureaucratic
- overhead is almost 2x of salary; it is harder and harder to compete against universities
- managers do not know how to act in the new environment. In fact they do nothing as the result many programs have been shrinking and even closing
- no more pension ( salaries are lower than in the valley but the pension was making it more even on a long run), making benefits below average across the tech industry
- the future is bleak, unit will probably will end up like bell labs

Advice to ManagementAdvice

Get real and adopt to new reality

Doesn't Recommend
Negative Outlook
Disapproves of CEO

168 Other Employee Reviews for Lawrence Berkeley Lab (View Most Recent)

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  1.  

    Research associate

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Lawrence Berkeley Lab part-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Able to work part time, enthusiastic colleagues, a supervisor with high level of integrity, and an opportunity to work with colleagues in other departments on interesting projects are all pros that I experienced. Beautiful views of the Bay didn't hurt either.

    Cons

    Hard to find funding, and during the slow times work can be boring. Work at my level came in waves. Also, part-time workers are discouraged against (a manager once told me that management likes to see people in their chairs or at their lab bench every day). Not to mention the fact that it takes forever to get funding and complete projects (too many internal hurdles related to management approving particulars of the research, as well as internal departments such as budget office etc). Oh yes, and VERY HIGH overhead, making it impossible to get adequate funding to fund a multi-year study with 3-4 people working more than 50% time on the study. A lot of my colleagues took "leave without pay" days just to finish a study. Seems that LBNL ultimately wants "star scientists" to lead multidisciplinary teams with groundwork carried out by Graduate Students. So, if you are somewhere in the middle, your work environment may not be that stellar and you may not have a chance to move upward. Lastly, some laboratory equipment outside the ALS and Physical Biosciences Division is very out of date, definately not "state of the art".

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Provide training to junior scientists as to how to navigate the funding and provide skills training for staff to learn new tools (lab techniques and computer software/programming wise).

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2.  

    LBNL's response to broader structural problems within government research currently disadvantages young scientists.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Berkeley, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Berkeley, CA

    I worked at Lawrence Berkeley Lab full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    If set on getting a faculty job, one pro is that LBNL incentivizes academic behavior; i.e., publish basic science research. While postdocs cannot access career services at UC Berkeley, and career support services at LBNL were just cut, you can creatively leverage UCB to advance your career (e.g., recruiting events, networking with students). Senior management is trying to boost non-federal funding.

    Cons

    It is very important to understand how your prospective division and research group is funded, which may make the following generalizations more or less accurate. Consolidation of funds into large projects creates rigid hierarchies; pace is slow, like academia, diminishing the ability of young scientists to produce tangible results in a reasonable amount of time; because senior scientists have to pitch bigger and more ambitious ideas to DOE, projects increasingly focus on higher-risk, more complicated, and therefore less tangible work; you must be very careful that you have the right skill sets, given that imbalances between computer modeling and experimentation and physical technology development, and that the focus of funded projects can radically change within just 1 year. Much is made about LBNL being a meritocratic, soft-funded organization; in fact, most career/career-track scientists are effectively tenured, in that they migrate, sometimes outside their expertise, from completed or de-funded projects to funded projects. While these staff struggle, there is less support for younger staff.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
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