Leah Freeman Sloan Featured in Behind the Breakthroughs Profile

Silks class at Athletic Playground, Emeryville. Aerial terminology varies between artists and regions but this move is sometimes called “Peter Pan in a Box.” (Photo credit: Kate Hutchinson)

High up near the rafters, Leah Freeman Sloan finds the perfect balance between challenge and reward. A few years ago, Sloan visited a gym that specializes in circus-themed arts — trapeze, hula hoops, and something new for her, aerial silks. Almost instantly, Sloan took a liking to scaling the long, ropelike strands of silk that hang from the ceiling, and now, she frequents the gym several times a week, getting an aerobic burst but also mental clarity. “It’s an amazing luxury to be able to tune out all of the notifications from devices going off around you,” she explained. “I have to stay focused on only one thing and be fully absorbed.” Sloan’s daytime routine also involves coordinating many moving parts while staying focused in the present. She’s currently on a special assignment working as a program manager for two Biosciences Area programs: the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), which focuses on developing biofuels from stored carbon in plants, and the Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit (ABPDU), which enables the commercialization of bio-based products. 

Read the full profile on the Berkeley Lab Biosciences Area’s website.