The Office of Science is a Program Office within the Department of Energy. The Office is led by a Presidentially-nominated, Senate-confirmed Director and two senior career federal Deputy Directors.

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Asmeret Asefaw Berhe Official Portrait

Director, Office of Science

Asmeret Asefaw Berhe

Dr. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe is Director of the Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy. She is on leave from the University of California, Merced where she is a Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry, holds the Ted and Jan Falasco Chair in Earth Sciences and Geology, and serves as the Interim Associate Dean for Graduate Education. Berhe’s internationally recognized research lies at the intersection of soil science, global change science, and political ecology, with an emphasis on how the soil system regulates the earth’s climate and the dynamic two-way relationship between the natural environment and human societies. Berhe’s expertise on feedbacks in the earth system brings a unique perspective for integrating across the physical and natural sciences.

Berhe’s scientific leadership has been recognized by multiple national awards. She is a Fellow of both the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the Geological Society of America (GSA) and has received numerous awards and honors including the Joanne Simpson Medal from AGU (2020), Bromery Award from GSA (2019), and was selected as a New Voice in Science from the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (2018). 

Berhe previously served as the Chair of the US National Committee on Soil Science at the National Academies and chaired the U.S. delegation to the International Union of Soil Sciences' General Assembly at the World Congress of Soil Sciences. Berhe equally has demonstrated leadership in broadening participation in science, as a former Leadership board member for the Earth Science Women’s Network and as a founding investigator of the ADVANCEGeo Partnership – a National Science Foundation funded effort to empower (geo)scientists to transform workplace climate through interventions to reduce harassment, discrimination, bullying, and other exclusionary behaviors in research environments.  

Berhe was born and raised in Asmara, Eritrea and currently lives in Merced with her husband and two children. She received a B.Sc. in Soil and Water Conservation from the University of Asmara, an M.Sc. in Political Ecology from Michigan State University, and a Ph.D. in Biogeochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley.

Deputy Director for Science Programs

Dr. Harriet Kung is the Deputy Director for Science Programs in the Office of Science (SC) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The SC mission is to deliver the scientific discoveries and major scientific tools that transform our understanding of nature and advance the energy, economic, and national security of the United States. SC accomplishes its mission and advances national goals by supporting the frontiers of basic research, the world’s largest suite of major scientific user facilities, and science for energy and the environment.

As Deputy Director for Science Programs, Dr. Kung is the senior career official providing scientific and management direction and oversight for the SC research programs, including Advanced Scientific Computing Research, Basic Energy Sciences, Biological and Environmental Research, Fusion Energy Sciences, High Energy Physics, Nuclear Physics, and Accelerator R&D and Production. Dr. Kung also provides management direction and oversight of the Equity and Workforce Development; Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists; Scientific Workforce Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; International Activities, Research Security, and Interagency Coordination; Communications and Public Affairs; Scientific and Technical Information; Sponsored Activities; and Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer.

Dr. Kung served as the SC Associate Director of Science for Basic Energy Sciences (BES) from June 2008 to April 2020 and as the Materials Sciences and Engineering (MSE) Division Director in BES from 2004 to 2008. During her tenure in BES, Dr. Kung led a number of strategic planning activities to define scientific research directions for science-to-technology pathways and was instrumental in the success of interagency collaborations, DOE research integration efforts, and international coordination activities. Under her leadership, BES pursued new funding modalities in advancing the science for the energy research agenda, including the establishment of Energy Frontier Research Centers and two Energy Innovation Hubs, and successfully delivered nearly $2 billion of construction projects within the designed scope on time and budget.

Before joining DOE in 2002 as a program manager in MSE, Dr. Kung was a technical staff member and a project leader at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Her research focused primarily on nanoscale materials and high temperature superconductivity. She has published approximately 100 refereed papers and has given over 50 invited technical presentations.

Dr. Kung received her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering with a minor in Applied and Engineering Physics from Cornell University. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the DOE Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship award, several performance and leadership service awards at LANL, and the Presidential Meritorious Executive Rank Award in 2009.

Deputy Director for Operations

Juston Fontaine is the Deputy Director for Operations in the Office of Science (SC) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). In this capacity Mr. Fontaine is responsible for management and operational oversight of the Office of Science field complex, including 10 national laboratories executing leading scientific research and development. In addition, Mr. Fontaine provides executive leadership for operations support provide by the Office of Science’s Consolidated Service Center and Headquarters organizations, which provide essential business and technical support to the Department’s national laboratories and scientific research programs. This portfolio includes strategic planning and management of the Science Laboratories Infrastructure program and the Office of Isotope R&D and Production.  

Mr. Fontaine has over 15 years of experience with the Department of Energy, serving in a variety of roles to provide leadership and coordination on a wide range of complex operational and technical issues, as well as oversight of agency programs and operations. Prior to joining the Office of Science, Mr. Fontaine was the Chief of Staff for the Office of the Under Secretary for Management and Performance. In this capacity, he led day-to-day operations of the Office of the Under Secretary, coordinating project management and the mission support functions of the Department, and overseeing the safe cleanup of the environmental legacy brought about from nuclear weapons development and government-sponsored nuclear energy research. Mr. Fontaine served a key role in the development of Departmental strategic planning efforts and innovative business solutions to support organizational improvement. In this role, Mr. Fontaine was responsible for the strategic development and coordination of the Office of the Under Secretary’s nearly $7 billion budget portfolio. 

Mr. Fontaine joined the Department of Energy in 2004, initially serving as an Inspector with the Department’s Office of Inspector General. Subsequently, as Special Assistant to the Inspector General, he conducted oversight of Department of Energy operations, assessed programmatic efficiency and effectiveness, and managed the development and dissemination of external communications with senior agency officials, Congress, and external entities. During this period, Mr. Fontaine also served as an Investigator for the Committee on Appropriations, Surveys and Investigations Division, where he was responsible for leading bipartisan investigations of specific current or emerging issues facing government agencies.