2006 Executive Meeting Minutes

December 19, 2006

Conference Call Participants Joy Andrews, Chris Kim, Cathy Knotts, Richard Lee, Karen McFarlane Holman, Art Nelson, Hirohito Ogasawara, Monica Sommerhalter, Jo Stöhr, Robert Szilagyi, Glenn Waychunas.

Chris Kim, SSRLUOEC Chair, welcomed the meeting participants and began the meeting. Notes and action items (in bold) follow.

Jo Stöhr attended the first part of the meeting to acknowledge the very positive feedback from user advocacy activities, such as the recent SNUG meetings in DC.

NUFO Update: Chris Kim (Chapman University) gave an update on activities of the National User Facility Organization (NUFO). The most pressing issue raised was the continuing resolution, which if continued through 2007 would be problematic for all user facilities because the budget would be much less than that anticipated (significant increases were expected in line with the President's budget). The APS sent an email alerting users about the devastating impact a prolonged continuing resolution would have on that facility as well as other facilities and science in general. ACTION: Chris Kim draft a letter encouraging user advocacy to support science overall (and specifically the DOE Office of Science budget) through letters and visits to congressional representatives during January and February; will also try to coordinate visits to local congressional offices.

SNUG Update: Joy Andrews (Cal State East Bay) discussed activities related to joint Synchrotron and Neutron Users Group (SNUG) user advocacy. SNUG representatives visited Washington in October. It was suggested that SNUG representatives follow up in early January with contacts made at those meetings. Joy also mentioned that there would be a conference call on January 9th to ensure that advocacy messages being communicated are consistent and coordinated with the DOE. Potential plans to coordinate something in conjunction with the February MRS meeting in San Francisco in March are being discussed.

SSRL 2007 User Survey: Chris Kim drafted and circulated a survey to encourage feedback from users to be used as part of SSRL visioning and strategic planning activities. The survey was modified with input from the SSRLUOEC with plans to develop in to a web based survey tool in early January so that user input can be collected and shared with the SSRL Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) when they meet at SSRL in February. ACTION: Chris Kim to update draft survey and to coordinate user comments.

SSRL34: Robert Szilagyi and Hiro Ogasawara will co-chair the next annual meeting of the SSRL Users' Organization to be held on October 1-3, 2007. ACTION: Users are asked to contact the co-chairs with suggestions for session topics, speakers and workshops. Robert and Hiro will begin to draft a program for SSRL34 in the next few months.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities: Chris Kim and Karen McFarland Holman (Willamette University) discussed activities to encourage and support new users, especially undergraduate students. The NSLS Faculty Student Research Program was discussed as one potential model to provide assistance to new users (this would likely require funds for travel grants, per diem reimbursement). Robert Szilagyi suggested the possibility of coordinating an extra day of beam time specifically for undergraduate training. To determine who would be interested in this option, a question about the use of beam time to support new user training or undergraduate research could be added to the proposal and to the beam time request. Another suggestion was to piggyback undergraduate students to work with experienced scientists, the benefit to new users would be valuable experience and to incorporating new researchers may make the beam time experiments more interesting to principal investigators who might not otherwise have much interaction with students. ACTION: This will be discussed again at future meetings.

Next SSRLUOEC Meeting on February 15th: Several SSRLUOEC members will be at SSRL for the SAC meeting on February 15th (am), so we plan to arrange a meeting of the SSRLUOEC in the afternoon (tentatively scheduled 1:30-4 pm). ACTION: Please share agenda items with Chris Kim or Cathy Knotts. Details on time and location to be circulated shortly.

Cathy Knotts
SSRL Liaison to SSRL Users' Organization Executive Committee

October 13, 2006

Participants Yves Acremann,Joy Andrews, Sean Brennan, Jeff Corbett, Tzanko Doukov, Luis Fuentes, Ana Gonzalez, Zsuzsa Hamburer, Britt Hedman, Bob Hettel, Hope Ishii, Chris Kim, Cathy Knotts, Mathew Latimer, Richard Lee, Wayne Lukens, Apurva Mehta, Art Nelson, Hirohito Ogasawara, Reinhard Pahl, Stephane Richard, James Safranek, Bill Schlotter, Clyde Smith, Monica Sommerhalter, Jo Stöhr, Robert Szilagyi, Glenn Waychunas.

Chris Kim, SSRLUOEC Chair, welcomed the meeting participants and began the meeting by announcing and introducing the newly elected members to the SSRL Users' Organization Executive Committee (SSRLUOEC): Wayne Lukens (LBNL), Art Nelson (LLNL), Monika Sommerhalter (CSU East Bay) and ), and Karen McFarlane Holman (Willamette University), Becky Fenn (Stanford University) who were not able to attend.

User Input Encouraged: User Input Encouraged: Jo Stöhr asked users to help brainstorm ways to more actively encourage user input into SSRL's strategic planning process. Following up on his formal presentation during the annual meeting, Jo reported on several future developments being considered at SSRL as well as the resources needed to support these programs (e.g., molecular and environmental interface science, small angle scattering for materials, high pressure spectroscopy, non resonant raman scattering, and new equipment such as additional multi-element detectors and advanced software). Jo specifically asked users, "What are the highest priorities for users?"

There is significant user demand with several beam lines experiencing 200-300% oversubscription during the past year. Several users expressed a desire to have shorter but more frequent allocations of beam time (particularly on macromolecular crystallography beam lines). Users commented on the tradition of outstanding user support at SSRL, but also noted the need for more beam line scientific and technical support staff to help users more effectively utilize their valuable beam time. Some users requested new lab equipment and lab space, such as a chemistry lab for catalysis experiments. A survey will be developed to encourage input from the wider user community.

SSRLUOEC members requested web interfaces to submit proposals, request beam time, and view the schedule of allocated beam time. They also requested the ability to access the user administration database to segregate the SSRL user community by scientific discipline or technique so that they could direct email communications related to specific user communities. It was noted that this would help user representatives to establish and maintain better contact with their constituent groups (primarily for planning, communications, and user advocacy purposes).

Jo also mentioned that the SSRL scientific advisory committee would meet in February and that user input into the strategic planning would be incorporated into the SAC discussions.

500 mA/Top Off Update: Jo, Bob Hettel and James Safranek discussed plans for 500 mA operation and top off injection at SPEAR3. Some of the documentation, reviews and approvals needed to move forward were discussed. Assuming everything progresses as anticipated, it is expected that staff will be able to begin higher current and/or top off tests at some beam lines in the Spring, and there may be some opportunities for preliminary user tests related to either 500mA or top off in the last scheduling period of 2007. Staff plan to look at top off issues (timing and frequency) and to work with users to try different things at different beam lines to understand the optimal top off interval for user experiments. Joy Andrews volunteered to provide samples for timing tests.

At present, if higher current operations were scheduled, some beam lines (e.g., BL4-2) would not be able to operate because they are not yet ready for higher current. Due to resource limitations, the SPEAR3 beam line upgrades have been phased in over the last several years. The last phase of the beam line upgrade plan to make all beam lines compatible and ready for 500mA operations is scheduled to take place during the 2007 summer shutdown; at that time, BL4-1, 4-2, and 4-3 will be upgraded and they will also move to a new location past BL11 in the new building 130. Updates towards 500 mA operations and top off injection will continue to be provided at future meetings to keep users informed and engaged in this process.

Undergraduate Research: Karen Holman was not able to attend this meeting, but she sent a note to the committee to begin a discussion about undergraduates at SSRL. The goals would be to encourage new users to conduct experiments at SSRL and to include more undergraduates on the beam lines working with senior scientists. This increase in numbers could most likely happen through: 1) encouraging faculty with graduate programs to bring undergrads along, and 2) encouraging faculty at PUIs to do work at SSRL. Incentives could be useful in encouraging undergraduate research (e.g., extra shifts, travel support). Among other things, this would require focus on user and undergraduate outreach.

Next meeting: To be determined.

Cathy Knotts
SSRL Liaison to SSRL Users' Organization Executive Committee

April 17, 2006

Attendees: Joy Andrews, Michael Brzustowicz, Neil Calder, Lisa Downward, Lisa Dunn, Jesse Guzman, Zsuzsa Hamburger, Britt Hedman, Keith Hodgson, Chris Kim, Cathy Knotts, Richard Lee, Aaron Lindenberg, Greg Madejski, Hendrik Ohldag, Piero Pianetta, Bill Schlotter, Steve Sekula, Abner Souffer, Jo Stöhr, Robert Szilagyi, Glenn Waychunas.

Joy Andrews, SSRLUOEC Chair, welcomed the meeting participants and began the meeting. Notes and action items (in bold) follow.

Keith Hodgson attended the first part of the meeting to acknowledge the very positive feedback from user advocacy activities, such as the recent SNUG meetings in DC.

33nd Annual SSRL Users' Meeting: Chris Kim (Chapman University) and Aaron Lindenberg (SSRL) will co-chair the next Annual SSRL Users' Meeting on October 12-13, 2006. They circulated an outline of the draft program. It was suggested that the opening session could include a talk on the process of information flow in DC and a perspective on how user advocacy impacts this process. Regarding the scientific highlights and young investigators sessions, it was suggested that these talks be limited to 20 minutes, including 5 minutes for discussion. Speakers should be reminded to give a big picture type talk for a very broad audience. Z.X. Shen was suggested as a possible speaker to share a retrospective on Bill Oosterhuis, who was a friend of synchrotron radiation science from its earliest days. Jo Stöhr requested that presentations focus on areas where SSRL is currently involved, or in areas where we plan to have active programs, including full field x-ray, soft x-ray imaging, advanced microscope (K. Luening), state-of-the-art hard x-ray region, tomography, diffraction imaging/speckle (holography-J. Luning), and new opportunities in imaging such as those developed for the Archimedes Palimpsest (U. Bergmann). Additional talks related to ultrafast science could include an LCLS science overview (big picture talk), lenseless imaging (J. Hadju, paper coming out shortly), instrumentation/streak camera, slicing sources, or timing experiments at SPEAR. For the Biology session, several potential topics were suggested: first crystal structure inside microchip, nanotubes (S. Quake, M. Anderson), new MC technology/remote access demonstration, SAXS, spectroscopy (combine simulations, EFT calculations, theoretical calculations).

Suggested topics for joint workshops with the ALS included soft x-ray scattering experiments and user outreach/advocacy. There was a suggestion to host a proposal writing workshop covering the process to get beam time at SSRL and pointers/practice to help new investigators prepare better proposals; before creating a workshop, however, it is necessary to determine 1) if there is sufficient interest in having a workshop (minimum would be ~12 people), 2) what specific elements of the proposal preparation process do people want help with?

Users are encouraged to submit nominations for SSRLUOEC and for several awards:

The plan is to give away long sleeve t-shirts to people who register early for SSRL33; indigo blue was the most popular color.

SSRL User Community/SNUG Advocacy: Jennie Acrivos suggested a letter from the SSRLUOEC to Physics Today recognizing the contributions of Bill Oosterhuis. Glenn Waychunas volunteered to contact Pat Dehmer and to coordinate a draft letter.

Discussion continued on how can each committee member can better interact with their respective user communities; SSRL plans to incorporate the ability to pull mailing lists into the more user friendly web interface tools which are being developed for the user database.

Peer mentoring by experienced users was discussed to assist new users to prepare better proposals and get the most out of their allocated beam time. In order for this to work, users (e.g., SSRLUOEC) would need to commit to an overlap where the new users assist with experiments scheduled under the experienced user proposal, then the experienced user would stay on to help the new user get started. These arrangements would need to made early in the scheduling process so that the respective proposals could be scheduled back-to-back.

SSRLUOEC can suggest additional scientists to be considered by the PRP in reviewing new proposals (provide complete contact information and summary of expertise: materials/chemistry, environmental/geosciences, biospectroscopy/bio SAXS, macromolecular crystallography, ultrafast science)

Regarding the dialogue which began in February, the PRP requests specific recommendations from the SSRLUOEC on how they can better meet the needs of users; discussion items included:

  • Encourage the PRP to give more consideration to the efficient use of beam time in determining a proposal's rating (comparing previous shifts allocated to publications, etc.)
  • Encourage PRP to include a paragraph along with ratings so that users better understand any issues related to their proposal and why a specific rating was assigned.

The Synchrotron and Neutron Users Group (SNUG) visited DC April 9-11, including a briefing lunch with industry. A bank of research highlights will continue to be developed for use in the future. A suggestion was made to ask users who prepare NSF nuggets to forward these for possible inclusion in the bank of user science examples. Another DC trip is tentatively being discussed for October and could include an R&D Caucus or Congressional hearing. Users are encouraged to participate in user advocacy, letter writing campaigns, etc.

SSRL Director's Update: SSRL Director Jo Stöhr discussed plans for increased user support, instrumentation, and software/web interface. Because some beam lines are not ready for 500 mA operations, the plan will likely be to conduct 500 mA tests only during scheduled AP days for the first scheduling period in 2007, with the opportunity to schedule further 500 mA tests for 1-2 weeks at a time later in the run. Upgrades on BL7 are nearing completion, with plans to re-open BL 7-2 and 7-3 for commissioning in several weeks, to be followed by BL7-1 later this summer. High on the future priority list are plans to upgrade equipment on beam line end stations, including computers and software for a more unifying platform-independent system. The new SSRL Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) will meet in July to review new beam lines, including the goal for 2 new superconducting insertion device lines.

There was a discussion of fill patterns, some users requested reducing fills from 3 to 2 times a day. Although a few users who conduct long running scans expressed interest in reducing the number of fills, it was not clear if there was a consensus on whether this worked best for the majority of users, or for the facility (optics, etc.).

Outreach, Communications, User Administration: Cathy Knotts made several announcements, including:

SLUO Update: Abner Souffer and several representatives of the SLAC Users' Organization (SLUO) participated in this meeting to discuss a joint workshop to better enable scientific users to communicate their research, the importance of the facilities, and the need to support basic sciences in general. This workshop is tentatively scheduled to be held at SLAC on May 26th. Both SSRL and SLUO expressed interest in continuing a dialogue between the two user groups to increase interactions and to coordinate activities such as the upcoming workshop. Lisa Downward volunteered to be the SSRLUOEC liaison with SLUO. SSRL staff and users are asked to help to publicize the May 26th workshop to their colleagues, to scientists at SLAC/SSRL, and to other local scientific users.

The meeting adjourned around 3 pm.

Cathy Knotts
SSRL Liaison to SSRL Users' Organization Executive Committee

February 13, 2006


SSRLUOEC Chair Joy Andrews began the meeting by asking everyone to introduce themselves. Attendees included: Joy Andrews, Linda Brinen, Lisa Downward, Ian Evans, Zsu Zsa Hamburger, Britt Hedman, Bob Hettel, Chris Kim, Cathy Knotts, Aaron Lindenberg, Piero Pianetta, Stephane Richard, Bill Schlotter, Robert Scott, Abner Souffer, Jo Stöhr, Glenn Waychunas.

Safety Update

Ian Evans gave a presentation on safety, including suggestions for both work and home. In reply to a question about the machine shop at SSRL, users were discouraged from using this shop without specific authorization. They can, however, contact SSRL staff or the Duty Operator to find out if someone can help them to get parts machined. Users are encouraged to stay informed and follow policies as they relate to safety and to ask if they have any questions.

SSRL Director's Update

SSRL Director Jo Stöhr introduced the SSRL Deputy Directors Britt Hedman and Piero Pianetta. He emphasized the need to continue to focus on safety in all activities. Jo reviewed the status of the various beam lines and focus areas for SSRL (areas where SSRL is or can establish a center of excellence to conduct forefront science to attract and retain key scientists and faculty, such as ultrafast science). He mentioned that we have the opportunity to explore different fill patterns and timing experiments. Jo and Piero also encouraged users to provide input into user needs and desires for future capabilities, for example, would users desire better detectors for materials scattering/diffraction beam lines like BL2-1 and 7-2? There are many scientific opportunities but in order to pursue these, a strong scientific case would be needed.

Top-Off Injection

Bob Hettel summarized the status of SPEAR, including recent events related to approval for 500mA operations (expected shortly for the ring, approval for beam line operations at 500mA will require additional radiation protection review). As planning for top off injection continues, Bob is interested in working with users to identify issues related to various types of experiments, tolerable modes, and degree of interruption.

PRP Encourages User Feedback

At their February 6th meeting, the PRP indicated their desire to have more interaction with users. Prior to the SSRLUOEC meeting, a list of questions from the PRP was circulated to encourage feedback and discussion:

  • What are your issues and how can the PRP help?
  • Any questions about the PRP review process? Is it working well?
  • Would a proposal writing workshop be helpful to you?
  • Any issues particular to young scientists? female scientists?
  • Any suggestions for attracting more users?
  • Any suggestions for helping new users get acquainted with the facility and/or started with their experiments?

Robert Scott, PRP member and SSRL user, participated in this meeting to facilitate user feedback on these topics and any other issues important to users. Several suggestions were made including, surveying spokespersons to determine if they want to raise any issues (perhaps incorporating this question as part of a new proposal submission or user meeting registration process); arranging a focus session with users and PRP members; arranging a proposal writing workshop at the next Users' Meeting; and designating resources to update mailing list capabilities in the user database (contact specific groups of users by technique, discipline, geographic designation, etc.). Specific recommendations were made to encourage the PRP to give more consideration in determining a proposal's rating to the efficient use of past beam time (comparing previous shifts allocated to publications, etc.), and users request that the PRP include a paragraph along with ratings so that they better understand any issues related to their proposal and why a specific rating was given. A recommendation was made to consider a more formal program of peer mentoring where staff scientists and other experienced investigators would help new investigators (perhaps initially as part of a collaboration) in writing proposals, experimental set up, collecting and analyzing data, etc., in order to help new users get the most out of their beam time. A similar suggestion was made to more widely disseminate PRP contact information and to post the best/highest rated proposals (spokesperson name, institution, title of proposal) on the website in order to assist new users in contacting experienced users for advice. Another suggestion was made to expand the list of peer reviewers (concern that using the same reviewers created "an old boy network" where new investigators may not be rated as highly as more well known and established investigators).

Update of User Activities and Activism

SSLRUOEC Chair Joy Andrews gave a presentation on the many recent activities related to user activism, including the formation of a joint Synchrotron and Neutron Users Group (SNUG) and an advocacy committee comprised of user representatives. Joy also shared news about budgets and new initiatives related to science, technology innovation, and the President's American Competitiveness Initiative. In preparation for meetings in Washington in April, Lisa Downward is compiling a briefing document of research highlights from the various facilities, statistics to demonstrate the need to support basic sciences and why user facilities are important. Joy also shared excerpts from the last briefing document prepared by Glenn Waychunas for the trip to DC in April 2005.

33rd Annual SSRL Users' Meeting

Chris Kim (Chapman University) and Aaron Lindenberg (SSRL) will co-chair the next Annual SSRL Users' Meeting on October 12-13, 2006. They have already begun to outline the program and begin work on details for the meeting. They encourage user suggestions on topics for sessions and workshops, speakers, etc. Possible topics might include: microfocusing (STXM, TXM); young investigators; ultrafast science; industrial applications; applications for art/archeology; biology (nanotechnology, SAXS, spectroscopy, cyro EM); and perhaps talks related to the science featured as an SSRL scientific highlight within the last year. There was also discussion about having workshops on: introduction to SSRL for new users (aimed at students), proposal writing (aimed at new investigators), crystallography, and MEIS. There was a discussion about the potential for joint workshops with ALS on microfocusing. A suggestion was made to try to incorporate hands-on sample preparation, data collection (with a sample data set), and data analysis (e.g., how should data be processed? what is usable data?); users would need to bring their own laptop computer.

SSRL Workshop on Synchrotron X-ray Scattering Techniques (SR-XRS) in Materials and Environmental Sciences: Theory and Application

On May 16-17, 2006, SSRL will host an SR-XRS workshop on techniques which offer the ability to probe nano- and atomic-scale structures and order/disorder relationships that critically govern the properties of advanced technological and environmental materials. The high collimation, intensity, and tunability of SR allow the investigation of a wide range of materials, including thin films and interfaces, nanoparticles, amorphous materials, solutions, hydrated and disordered bacteriogenic minerals and highly crystalline materials. Good planning and a working knowledge of beam lines, in addition to technique, are keys to conducting successful SR-XRS measurements. This workshop will provide a practical users' guide to planning and conducting scattering measurements and will emphasize topics that can best be obtained only through on-the-experiment training. Space is limited; register at:

SLUO Update

Abner Souffer, Chair of the SLAC Users' Organization (SLUO), participated in this meeting to encourage SSRL users to think about ways to increase interactions between SLAC and SSRL users. There have been some recent meetings related to user activism. It was suggested that SSRL scientists might consider giving a talk to SLUO users about the types of experiments conducted at SSRL.

Outreach, Communications, User Administration

Cathy Knotts gave a presentation and reminded users about several upcoming events and deadlines:

The next SSRLUOEC meeting will be arranged on Monday, April 17, 2006, 10 am - 3 pm, in the SSRL Building 137 3rd floor conference room.

The meeting adjourned around 4:00 pm.

Cathy Knotts
SSRL Liaison to SSRL Users' Organization Executive Committee

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