2008 Executive Meeting Minutes

November 26, 2008


Beth Wurzburg, Monika Sommerhalter, Wayne Lukens, Cathy Knotts, Katherine Kantardjieff. On Phone: Karen McFarlane-Holman, Dick Lee, Chris Kim, Brittany Nelson-Cheeseman

  1. New Synchrotron Neutron Users Group (SNUG) co-chair to serve with Chris Kim There has been some confusion (mainly by me) about the difference between SNUG and the National User Facilities Organization (NUFO). To clarify, NUFO consists of the users' committee chairmen from all of the DOE user facilities and exists to help solve problems common to all user facilities. It is not primarily a lobbying organization although it is interested in science advocacy. SNUG consists of representatives from the synchrotron and neutron sources and is primarily a user advocacy or lobbying organization. SNUG organizes an annual trip to Washington, D.C. to talk with representatives or their staffs. SNUG also has monthly conference calls and helps users with local visits to their representatives.

    Currently Chris Kim is one co-chair of SNUG, and Katherine was the other representative but she stepped down to serve as SSRLUOEC vice-chair, so SNUG is looking for a new co-chair. There were a number of suggestions. Beth expressed some interest, but also noted that she was not all that familiar with the activities of SNUG. Monika mentioned that both NIST and Brookhaven are much closer to D.C., and may have an interest in providing a co-chair. Joe Kline, an SSRL user who works at NIST, ran for a spot on the SSRLUOEC and may be good candidate. Finally, someone already serving on SNUG may be willing to serve as co-chair.

    Going forward, Chris was going to ask the other SNUG members if anyone else was interested in serving as co-chair, and Cathy was going to email Joe Kline and ask if he was interested. Finally, if anyone wants to volunteer, they can talk with Chris.

  2. Request from NUFO for names of people willing to talk with their representatives. Wayne participated in a conference call with NUFO where the NUFO chair asked for names of users who would be willing to visit their local congressional offices. We probably have this information through the survey. Wayne will email the people who said "yes" on this survey and ask whether we can forward their names to NUFO.

  3. SSRL/LCLS users' meeting comments

    A number of comments about the users' meeting were made over the course of the meeting. They have been collected here

    1. General dislike of the parallel sessions format with the LCLS workshops parallel to the SSRL users' meeting and vice versa. Apparently, there was poor attendance at parts of the users' meeting while the workshop was in session. I have to apologize as this was my solution to shoehorning both the LCLS and SSRL meetings into three days. It did not seem to work very well.
    2. Potential solutions to the parallel meeting problem
      1. Use 4 days (Wed-Sat or Sun-Wed), 2 days each for SSRL and LCLS
      2. Shorter meeting (only 1 day for meeting, 1 day for SSRL workshops, 1 day for SSRL workshops).
    3. Dick mentioned that the directors of the SSRL and LCLS should meet to discuss this issue.
    4. Cathy mentioned that another date may be better for the users' meeting (a question was added to the survey to poll the users).
  4. Comments on the user survey
    1. Chris mentioned that the survey should not be changed too much so that we can track trends. A number of questions that were slated to be removed have been added back to the survey.
    2. Karen and Monika asked for a clearer explanation when to use the "N/A" response.
    3. Katherine mentioned that Zoomerang may be a better survey server than Survey Monkey in the future since the Zoomerang service which she uses can provide more useful statistical tools. There may be a problem with using a public university's account if the survey is used for lobbying. Since this is not the primary goal of the user survey, this is probably not an issue.
  5. Next meeting should be in mid-February to go over the results of the survey. I would like to run the survey from early January through the end of the month.


October 17, 2008

1. Welcome new members. Election results and the three new members are:

Ben Gilbert, environmental chemist from LBNL, replaces Joy Andrews Beth Wurtzburg, structural biologist from Stanford, replaces Stephane Richard Brittany B. Nelson-Cheeseman, graduate student from UC Berkeley, replaces Jesse Guzman

Welcome new committee members!

2. Nomination for new vice-chair.

Katherine Kantardjieff was nominated to serve as vice-chair. If elected, a new NUFO representative will be needed as Katherine will not have time to fulfill the responsibilities of both positions. Does anyone want to volunteer or suggest someone who may want to be a co-NUFO chair or representative along with Chris Kim?

3. Liquid helium use.

Acting on the frustration communicated by some users who have had to buy a whole 100 L Dewar of liquid He only to find that they can only use half of it, Matthew Latimer and Britt Hedman presented a new policy for charging for liquid He.

  1. Users who want to use LHe must request a cryostat on their X-ray support form. They will be charged per shift for LHe for normal use (~$80). If they use much more LHe than usual, for example by running at very low temperature, they will be charged more.
  2. Users who use the cryostream will be charged more, but the cost per shift is not yet known.
  3. Users who use the SSRL SMB or MEIS cyrostats will not have to order LHe. Others users should continue to order LHe as needed.

This seems to be a great, readily workable solution to the LHe problem. Thank you Matthew and Britt.

4. Open discussion about the users' meeting


The general sense was that the Friday session was poorly attended. In addition, my impression was that the response to the science highlight talks was attentive and polite but not enthusiastic. Part of the problem is that the LCLS user workshops run concurrently with the SSRL users' meeting and some of the audience attended the LCLS workshops rather than the SSRL users' meeting. In addition, I suspect that fraction of the audience interested in any particular field of science presented in the highlights is pretty small. Finally, there was a sense that the users' meeting was too long.

A number of changes were suggested some of which follow (subject to my memory as I did not take very good notes during this part of the meeting).

  • Have the LCLS and SSRL users' meeting on dates further apart (Note that I believe we are constrained to have the SSRL users' meeting somewhat concurrent with the LCLS users' meeting so that the DOE reps only have to come to one meeting.)
  • Make the meeting only one or one and a half days rather than the current two days.
  • Replace the science highlight talks with talks by beamline scientists that illustrate techniques to collect better data (similar to the talks that were given on day one of the users' meeting in 2007).
  • Change the format of the meeting with only the first half of the plenary session day in common for LCLS and SSRL. The only common presentations would then be by the DOE BES rep, the lab and lightsource directors, and Mike Lubell.
  • Make sure that the SSRL users' meeting overlaps only with the LCLS AMO workshop (few users in common).
  • Give the poster awards during the dinner rather than the next day (only 2 of the poster winners were present to get their awards).

5. Open discussion about how to interact with users.

There is some concern that the users are becoming less involved and interested in the operation of the accelerator, and that the emphasis of the users is only collecting data. Jo says that this is an indication that the techniques are becoming mature, so users no longer need to be synchrotron science experts to obtain good data. This maturation makes it somewhat more difficult for the SSRLUOEC to reach out to users, so we may need to explore new methods to reach out to users. In addition, Jo noted that user support for new facilities and initiatives is generally by a few, highly motivated users rather than by the community as a whole.

Last year, Robert tried to use Google groups as a new tool to interact with the users with somewhat mixed results. One new suggestion (from Monika, I believe), is to produce short (< 5 min) video podcasts of new techniques, capabilities, etc. such as the section of Mike Soltis' talk on micro-focus molecular crystallography. A link to the podcast could be included in the monthly newsletter. We could potentially use this to give a brief presentation about what 500 mA operation and/or top-off mode will mean for data collection. I have no idea how difficult it would be to produce one of these podcasts.

6. Open discussion about the user survey

The user survey will go online in January, and I will need to make some changes based on what we have learned in the previous two years. For example, asking the users if they are interested in a particular technique (i.e. STXM, microfocus) may not be useful for the reason noted above: support for new facilities is usually from a small group of highly motivated users. A more meaningful way to get similar information may be to ask "What is limiting your research at SSRL (including beam time)?" "What experiments would you like to do at SSRL that you currently cannot?" or "Is there data that you would like to collect that is not possible to collect at SSRL at the current time?"

June 6, 2008

Participants (many via conference call):

Uwe Bergmann, Lisa Dunn, Serena DeBeer George, Bob Hettel, Katherine Kantardjieff, Chris Kim, Cathy Knotts, Donghui Lu, Wayne Lukens, Jill Meyers, Art Nelson, Stephane Richard, Riti Sarangi, Steve Sekula, Monika Sommerhalter, Jo Stöhr.

Wayne Lukens, SSRLUOEC Vice Chair, opened the meeting and welcomed the participants.

Regarding the graduate student vacancy on the committee, Justin Jiang from UCSC expressed interest in filling that vacancy. In accordance with the SSRLUOEC charter, the committee agreed to appoint Justin Jiang to fill the vacancy on an interim basis and to include him as a candidate during the next election to be held in October. Nominations are sought for the two other vacancies on the SSRLUOEC next year (materials science and biospectroscopy). Action: Cathy Knotts will notify Justin Jiang. Users are encouraged to nominate candidates to fill the other vacancies for the October election. http://www-conf.slac.stanford.edu/ssrl-lcls/2008/nominations.asp

Serena DeBeer George discussed some of the changes in how access to the SSRL Sample Preparation Labs is granted and training that is required. Chris Kim shared his perspective on the usefulness of the new training since his group had just completed it. Action: Serena invited users to continue to share feedback related to SSRL labs with the new lab manager, Cynthia Patty.

Monika Sommerhalter discussed the user suggestion for shorter allocations of beam time to more efficiently utilize crystallography beam time. On the last survey a few users noted that long blocks of beam time (such as over weekends) were hard for users to fully utilize. Other users suggested that SSRL consider scheduling group blocks for these periods. Action: Monika will start a discussion on the SSRLUOEC google group forum to solicit additional input from the crystallography user community on the impact of robotics and automation on data collection and beam time needs; scheduling preferences; and interest in being part of larger crystallography teams for more flexibility and better beam time coverage.

There was a brief discussion in response to the request to consider adjusting dates for accelerator physics (AP) to the weekends in order for users to have more access to user support staff and to allow more frequent changeovers and shorter allocations for crystallography stations (not currently available on weekends). There was little support to change the AP once per month from Monday-Tuesday to Saturday-Sunday because the AP shifts frequently involve other groups at SLAC who are only available during weekdays, and BL scientists and support staff use the weekday AP for BL maintenance, commissioning and to set up for user experiments coming on after the AP.

Bob Hettel reported that higher current operation will require top-off injection so top off has been the priority. The top-off plans are a work-in-progress. During the mini-down in July, we plan to install interlock components which are needed for top off. There is a possibility that some beam lines could open during the last few weeks of this run in top off mode (but this has not yet been agreed or confirmed since some minor radiation has been detected at some beam lines during the initial tests, and work is needed to identify and understand how this is occurring). Additional work is planned during the summer shutdown, including transport line to bring beam to beam lines, vacuum lines, etc. Engineering changes (which requires resources) still need to be implemented. SSRL will continue to evaluate what is needed for higher current operation and to determine what higher current is possible without degrading thermal stability and problems with optics (perhaps beginning with 200mA operations). ACTION: Users would like to continue this discussion with more specific information on what changes are planned for the beam line instruments with higher current (e.g, filters?).

In response to the request to extend available beam time to users at the start of accelerator physics when the AP schedule allows (e.g., if/when there is useful beam before AP physics studies begin), Bob Hettel said it could be possible to offer this 'bonus time' to users but it was dependent on AP plans and must be coordinated with their schedule. If users would like to utilize these last few minutes for late measurements, they should contact James Safranek who organizes the AP schedule as well as SPEAR control, Duty Operator and beam line scientific and support staff.

Robert Szilagyi recently created a virtual meeting space through Google to facilitate bidirectional communication with the user community and the SSRL-UOEC. ACTION: Users are encouraged to join the group and use the forum to discuss topics of interest.

Katherine Kantardjieff and Chris Kim will co-chair the Synchrotron and Neutron Users' Group (SNUG). A trip to DC is being discussed for later this year. SNUG website is pending updates: http://www.snugroups.org/

Steve Sekula, Vice Chair of the SLAC Users' Organization (SLUO), and Jill Meyers (SLUO Administrator) attended the meeting to facilitate interaction between the user communities. They invited SSRLUOEC members to participate in their annual meeting which is being planned for September 18th. Steve provided information on a user advocacy website: scienceaction.org.

Wayne Lukens summarized plans for the 2008 LCLS/SSRL Users' Meeting (Co-Chairs: Wayne Lukens, Riti Sarangi, Aymeric Robert, Linda Young), which will include sessions to focus on LCLS and SSRL as well as a joint session, see

  • October 15 - LCLS Science & Instrumentation Sessions; SSRL Workshops
  • October 16 - Joint LCLS/SSRL Plenary Talks, Award Presentations
  • October 17 - SSRL Science & Instrumentation Sessions; LCLS Workshops
  • October 18 - Soft X-ray Science with the LCLS Workshop

Conference postcards and registration will be announced in June. Start to encourage members of your group to think about submitting abstracts for poster presentations (the program is drafted and there will not be any call for contributed talks this year).

ACTION: Users are encouraged to nominate candidates for the awards to be presented at the annual meeting and to identify SSRLUO members willing to serve on selection committees (Wayne, Art and Stephane volunteered, and Glenn and Monika were also suggested as volunteers):

  • William E. Spicer Young Investigator Award Nominations due August 1
  • Melvin P. Klein Scientific Development Award Nominations due August 1
  • Farrel W. Lytle Award Nominations due August 15

(the SSRLUOEC is the award selection committee and a meeting will be arranged in late August)

Jo Stöhr attended the meeting to discuss the report from the BES Program Review of SSRL which was held in January. The report was very positive overall. The reviewers recommended separating the SSRL Proposal Review Panel (PRP) from the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) and establishing terms for the advisory committee. SSRLUOEC members stated their preference for continuity on the PRP to ensure that proposals are reviewed consistently year to year. The report also recommended updates to the SSRL user proposal database and web interfaces, which are underway. The report required that user publications be reported to the DOE by beam line in the future (many SSRL users use multiple beam lines to conduct their experiments). ACTION: The SSRLUOEC requested the ability to query the user database so that they are better able to identify and communicate electronically with users by discipline, by techniques used, or by geographic location.

Jo Stöhr, Uwe Bergmann and Donghui Lu discussed a new project, called PEP-X. Looking beyond SPEAR3, SSRL is interested in exploring exciting new opportunities by using the existing PEP-II storage ring to create the ultimate synchrotron. Jo invited and challenged SSRL users to help dream big to make the scientific case for this long-term vision, specifically in define spectacular experiments that could not be done anywhere else. The SSRL Accelerator Physics group is working on a white paper which will outline critical parameters, technical specifications and opportunities for PEP-X (to be available shortly). The new source would be housed in the existing 2.2 km PEP-II tunnel and would utilize many of the existing PEP-II accelerator components and systems. PEP-X could be 3-4 times higher brightness than SPEAR3 and10 times brighter than the new NSLS-II. PEP-X could have an order of magnitude higher average brightness and flux in the 1- A° wavelength range than any existing or future storage ring planned for the next decade around the world. This enhanced capability will enable new science and faster data acquisition while benefiting from the inherent stability of a storage ring light source. Partial lasing in a 50-100-m ID may be possible at energies <~350 eV.

Potential experiments could include imaging, energy related spectroscopy, spectromicroscopy, time dependent spectroscopy, scattering, high energy experiments (50-70 KeV), or experiments which could complement the LCLS (nanosecond to second timing; faster detectors, pump, pulse (20 picosecond, etc.). To help prepare the scientific case, Uwe suggested that users review documents prepared for other recent projects:

NSLS II: http://www.bnl.gov/nsls2/project/CD0/

PETRA III will be a new high-brilliance synchrotron radiation source on the DESY site in Hamburg-Bahrenfeld. For a total investment of 225 million , the existing storage ring PETRA will be converted into one of the most brilliant x-ray sources worldwide. Conceptual design started in 2002, final approval of the project in May 2005, the reconstruction of the storage ring started on July 2, 2007, and PETRA III will commence user operation in 2009.http://petra3.desy.de/

DORIS. The 4.5 GeV storage ring DORIS III at DESY in Hamburg is a dedicated synchrotron radiation source with 9 wiggler/undulator insertion devices and several dipole beamlines (36 beamline stations). The stored current is 140 mA of positrons in 5 bunches with a typical lifetime of 10 to 18 hours. The radiation in the extreme ultraviolet and x-ray regime is used in a broad range of applications from biology and chemistry to material science. http://doris.desy.de/index_eng.html

CORNELL. Cornell University and Jefferson Laboratory physicists have been studying the properties of a new type of synchrotron radiation machine, called and Energy Recovery Linac (ERL), based on a superconducting linac and a one-turn return arc (like a storage ring). A 5 to 7 GeV, 10 to 200 mA ERL machine could produce electron beams of a few microns diameter with very low emittances (8 to 100 pm) in both the horizontal and the vertical planes. Small gap undulators up to 25 meters in length can produce ultra-high brilliance x-ray beams with many desirable characteristics, including: transversely coherent, diffraction-limited hard x-rays of very short (~20 fs to 2 ps), frequent (1.3GHz) pulses, with no limits on beam lifetime and very flexible modes of operation. http://www.lepp.cornell.edu/Research/AP/ERL/

ACTION: Users are asked to send us their ideas (all input welcome from a short elevator talk to a more flushed out proposed experiment). Users are invited to join the teams which are being formed to start exploring opportunities at PEP-X for the time period 2015-2020. Further discussions/workshops will likely be held in the next few months. For more information, contact Uwe Bergmann (Hard X-rays), Donghui Lu (Soft X-rays), or Hiro Tsuruta (Structural Biology). Jo Stöhr plans to give an update on PEP-X at the annual Users' Meeting and workshops October 15-18, 2008.

Users asked about plans for improved detectors and how detectors would be impacted by higher current operations. Uwe suggested that spectroscopy and scattering users get more organized and vocal in communicating their needs and that by coordinating with other users communities/committees, users could help push for development of better detectors (e.g., K-Tek single element, silicon drift detectors in photon counting mode, 30-element silicon drift detector, multi-element detectors). ACTION: It was suggested that a detector advocacy committee could be formed to discuss and potentially help coordinate detector development in conjunction with other user facilities and/or companies.

Several announcements were made related to the new LCLS website which recently launched. http://lcls.slac.stanford.edu/ LCLS AMO Proposal Writing Workshops scheduled June 2-3 http://www-conf.slac.stanford.edu/amo/2008/ SXR Consortium meeting June 6-7 (this is a closed meeting for consortium members to discuss logistics of a soft x-ray instrument to built for use on the LCLS, but an open meeting/workshop is planned in conjunction with the annual Users' Meeting.) http://www-public.slac.stanford.edu/simes/ PULSE Ultrafast Summer School, June 17-20 LCLS XPP Proposal Writing Workshops scheduled June 20-21 http://www-conf.slac.stanford.edu/xpp/2008/

The meeting adjourned at 4:15 pm.

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