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Biological and Environmental Systems Science -- About


Advancing understanding of complexity in biological and environmental systems


Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Biological and Environmental Systems Science (BESS) Directorate leads convergence research in biology, ecology, engineering, data discovery, physical sciences, and computing to advance U.S. competitiveness in the global bioeconomy and Earth system sustainability.

Our researchers enjoy an open, inclusive, and innovative workplace where they collaborate daily to advance renewable energy solutions, biodiversity research, and push the frontiers of systems and synthetic biology. The future looks equally bright as we understand how genes influence ecosystem-level processes, learn more about how biodiversity shapes the world around us, develop novel biodesign tools and testbeds for enzyme engineering, apply the world’s fastest supercomputers to transform biological and environmental data into knowledge, advance signature technologies for dynamic characterization of complex biological and environmental systems, and apply emerging capabilities that promise to transform how science is done through automated, data rich, and interconnected systems.

Together we can strengthen the nation’s economic competitiveness, enable resilient and sustainable economies, and make possible the stewardship of managed and natural resources.


BESS is home to the DOE’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Data Center, which provides data to scientists from around the world. The Center for Bioenergy Innovation enables high-impact and value-added advances along the bioenergy supply chain. The Climate Change Science Institute fosters the integration of experiments, measurements, and simulation to achieve a predictive understanding of our changing world. The UT/ORNL Center for Molecular Biophysics explores the structural dynamics of biomolecules by uniquely working at the interface of biology, chemistry, and the physical sciences, aided by neutron and computational sciences.