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January 2013 Print

Doug Taube, ALS Chemical Safety Specialist


As a chemical safety specialist, Doug Taube oversees chemical safety and experiment review for both ALS scientists and users. A natural result of his job description is his broad knowledge of all the techniques and experiments taking place around the experiment floor. Because of this and his affable and enthusiastic demeanor, Taube has become a go-to ALS tour guide. It’s a role he enjoys and views as an opportunity to enlighten others about the amazing and important scientific research underway here.

Taube, who holds a PhD in chemistry and worked as a catalyst chemist for ten years, joined the ranks of the ALS two and a half years ago. He estimates he’s given more than 150 tours since then, with groups ranging from distinguished guests from the Office of the UC President to fifth graders. He enjoys them all, but says that the best tours are really those with people who engage with him. “Regardless of their knowledge, it’s more interesting when there’s some give and take,” says Taube.

When he’s not entertaining tour groups with ALS history quizzes and accelerator science trivia, Taube is busy ensuring experiment safety at the ALS. The signs posted around the facility that inform users wondering about experimental procedure: “Better Call Doug!” pretty much say it all. Before users can access the ALS User Chemistry Labs or proceed with experiments on the beamline floor, they need Doug’s approval.

“I get the rare treat of visiting with just about every user who comes through the ALS. I make sure they’re doing their experiment safely then I get to ask them the big-picture questions about why they are doing their work” says Taube.

Taube earned his PhD in inorganic chemistry at UC Santa Barbara and then spent three and a half years at UC San Diego doing post-doc work before moving into industry. He worked as a catalyst chemist for ten years and another ten years in safety at Catalytica in Mountain View before coming to the ALS. Taube also taught freshman chemistry at Cal State Hayward for several years. His broad background has given him the ability to appreciate the many types of scientific research at the ALS, and to explain and elaborate upon it for his tour groups.