SSRL Headline News - Vol. 23, No. 2 Oct-Sep 2022

SSRL Headline News

SSRL/LCLS Users' Meeting Wrap-up

We wish to thank all of you who participated in our Annual SSRL/LCLS Users' Meeting held virtually in late September.  Whether your role was to organize, speak/present, attend, or all of the above, your contribution made the meeting a great success. 

Nearly 700 people logged into the meeting website to participate in one or more of the sessions which included 24 workshops, 3 plenary sessions, 4 poster sessions, a town hall meeting, and a joint SSRL/LCLS Users' Executive Meeting with Linda Horton and Dava Keavney, DOE Office of Basic Energy Sciences.  Some of the workshops were so successful that the organizers are looking forward to doing it again next year - in person!

SSRL annual awards were given to Blaine Mooers (Lytle), Saket Bagde (Spicer), and Chengcheng Fan (Klein) - see Awards & Honors below.  The Joe Wong Outstanding Poster Awards were given to Betul Ertem, Maya Engel, and Anudeep Mangu. Margaret Doyle and Kenneth Shui were the BioXFEL award winners. Honorable mentions went to Monty Cosby, Kevin Gu, Zhaoheng Guo, Daniel Haden and Ilkin Yapici.  The poster images and abstracts can be viewed on the website in the various poster halls.

Organizers of the Fundamentals at SSRL & LCLS workshop presented awards to these speakers: Andrew Lee, (Dual Role of Hydrogen during Fracture in Iron Revealed Using Transmission X-ray Microscopy) and Linxiao Chen (Elucidating the Dynamics of TiO2-supported Single Metal Atoms and Their Catalytic Consequences with X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS). They also recognized these speakers for honorable mention: Pranav Kakhandiki (Modes Reconstruction for X-ray Free Electron Lasers Using Neural Networks) and Tiffany Slater (The Plight of a Feather: Tracking the Degradation of Feather Corneous Beta Proteins and Identifying Their Remnants in Fossil Feathers).

We hope to see you again in person in September 2023!

Science Highlight

Functional CeOx Nanoglues for Robust Atomically Dispersed CatalystsContact: Bruce C. Gates (University of California, Davis)

A research team has grafted isolated and defective cerium oxide (CeOx) “nanoglue” islands onto high-surface-area silicon dioxide (SiO2). The nanoglue islands host an average of one platinum (Pt) atom each. The team found that the Pt atoms remain dispersed under both oxidizing and reducing environments at high temperatures. The dispersed activated catalyst exhibits markedly increased reactivity for carbon monoxide oxidation. The researchers attribute the improved stability under reducing conditions to the support structure and much stronger affinity of Pt atoms for CeOx than the SiO2 support. This ensures that Pt atoms can move while remaining confined to their respective nanoglue islands. The strategy of using functional nanoglues to confine atomically dispersed metals and simultaneously enhance their reactivity is general and is anticipated to move single-atom catalysts a step closer to practical applications.  Read more...

SSRL-Related Science

Molecular Cage Protects Precious Metals in Catalytic Converters
Excerpt from SLAC News Article by Chris Patrick

Sometimes, solutions to environmental problems can have environmentally unfriendly side effects. For example, while most gas-powered cars have a catalytic converter that transforms engine emission pollutants into less harmful gases, this comes with a tradeoff: Catalytic converters contain precious metals such as platinum and palladium.

The good thing about these precious metals is that they act as catalysts that help break down pollutants, with a suite of properties that make them the best elemental candidates for this chemical job. But they are also rare, which makes them expensive, and extracting them from the earth produces its own pollution. 

However, in a paper published October 24 in Nature Materials, researchers at SUNCAT and SSRL reported a way of encapsulating catalysts that could reduce the amount of precious metals catalytic converters need to work, which could in turn reduce the practice of precious metal mining.  Read more...

SARS-CoV-2 Protein Caught Severing Critical Immunity Pathway
Excerpt from SLAC News Article by David Krause

Over the past two years, scientists have studied the SARS-CoV-2 virus in great detail, laying the foundation for developing COVID-19 vaccines and antiviral treatments. Now, for the first time, scientists from SLAC, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and other institutions have seen one of the virus’ most critical interactions, which could help researchers develop more precise treatments.

The team caught the moment when a virus protein, called Mpro, cuts a protective protein, known as NEMO, in an infected person. Without NEMO, an immune system is slower to respond to increasing viral loads or new infections. Seeing how Mpro attacks NEMO at the molecular level could inspire new therapeutic approaches.

To see how Mpro cuts NEMO, researchers used x-rays from SSRL's Beamline 12-2 to reveal what Mpro looks like when it dismantles NEMO’s primary function of helping our immune system communicate.  Read more...

Awards & Honors

Blaine Mooers Wins 2022 Lytle Award for Decades of Synchrotron Leadership and RNA Research
Excerpt from SLAC News Article by David Krause

Blaine Mooers, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, has won this year’s Farrel W. Lytle Award for advancing synchrotron science and RNA editing research at SSRL.

Over his many years doing experiments at SSRL, Mooers has also galvanized the facility’s research community and spoken in support of SSRL at many national and international meetings, said Graham George, professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of Saskatchewan, and previous chair of the SSRL User Executive Committee (UEC).

“Blaine has been instrumental in organizing SSRL workshops, and has been an enthusiastic contributor to every recent SSRL/LCLS Users’ Meeting,” George said. “Not only that, he is an accomplished scientist with a growing track record of elegant research.”  Read more...

Saket Bagde Wins 2022 Spicer Young Investigator Award for Deciphering how Nature Produces Some Antibiotics
Excerpt from SLAC News Article by Kimberly Hickok

When Saket Bagde made an early attempt in 2017 to use the beamlines at SSRL to determine the structure of a particularly tricky protein, SLAC scientist Irimpan Mathews was skeptical Bagde could do it. “I thought this poor student is not going to get any results,” Mathews said.

But as Mathews soon learned, Bagde is an exceptionally motivated scientist with a strong will to answer the toughest questions. His unwavering determination led Bagde to achieve a feat scientists had been trying to accomplish for more than 30 years: accurately visualizing the entire structure of a protein complex called polyketide synthase, a molecule used in the production of antibiotics and other drugs. For his efforts, Bagde has been awarded SSRL’s 2022 Spicer Young Investigator AwardRead more...

Chengcheng Fan Wins 2022 Klein Award for Coronavirus Vaccine and Protein Transporter Research
Excerpt from SLAC News Article by David Krause

Chengcheng Fan is not sure what she will be doing twenty years from now. But later in life, she wants to look back and say that she tried her hardest to help develop a more powerful coronavirus vaccine during the global pandemic.

So far, Fan is doing just that: She has mapped the structures of more than 30 antibodies attached to coronavirus spike proteins using cryo-electron microscopes at the California Institute of Technology Cryo-EM Center and high-brightness x-rays from SSRL's Beamline 12-2. Seeing antibodies bound to spike proteins is a key step in creating vaccines that can protect against a wider spectrum of coronavirus variants.

For her work, Fan received the prestigious Melvin P. Klein Scientific Development Award during the SSRL/LCLS Annual Users' Meeting and Workshops from Sept. 26 – 30.  Read more...

2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Carolyn Bertozzi, Stanford University, has won another award.  The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Nobel Prize to Bertozzi for "for the development of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry.” She coined the term "bioorthogonal chemistry" herself for chemical reactions compatible with living systems.

Bertozzi, the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences and a professor of chemistry, with courtesy appointments in Chemical & Systems Biology and Radiology, has been honored with a number of other prestigious awards for her work. Most recently, the awards have included the 2022 Lifetime Mentor Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the 2022 Wolf Prize in Chemistry, 2022 Lifetime Mentor Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the 2022 Dr H.P. Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics.

Since joining Stanford in 2015 Bertozzi's research has included the use of our SSRL and CryoEM facilities at SLAC.   See Stanford News article

SSRL Users' Executive Committee Update

SSRL UEC 2022-2023 Membership

Please join us in supporting Blaine Mooers as the new SSRL Users' Executive Committee Chair. The Vice-Chair will be determined at the Committee's next meeting.  We thank everyone who agreed to be nominated and extend a warm welcome to our newly elected members: Sarah Bowman, Woody Fischer, and Jake Pushie.

We would like to acknowledge the continuing contributions of Graham George, who rotates from SSRL UEC Chair to Past Chair. And, we would like to express our thanks to retiring committee members Rebecca Page, Angelia Seyfferth, and Tim Stemmler.   For more information see SSRL's Users' Executive Committee (UEC).


Save the date — SSRL RapiData Course - March 22 – April 1, 2023

Save the date — Join us on April 20, 2023, for a symposium to celebrate SSRL's 50th anniversary


DOE Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Program Awards

The DOE Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) program is now accepting applications for the 2022 Solicitation 2 cycle. Applications are due on November 9, 2022 by 5:00 pm Eastern Time.

SSRL is pleased to engage with potential candidates that wish to work at SSRL in one of our science programs – please reach out to any of the Division Directors for potential projects.

The SCGSR program supports awards to outstanding U.S. graduate students to conduct part of their graduate thesis research at a DOE national laboratory or host site in collaboration with a DOE laboratory scientist — with the goal of preparing graduate students for scientific and technical careers critically important to the DOE Office of Science mission. SCGSR is open to current Ph.D. students in qualified graduate programs at accredited U.S. academic institutions, who are conducting their graduate thesis research in targeted areas of importance to the DOE Office of Science.  More information can be found at

Postdoctoral Opportunities at SSRL

SSRL scientists are looking for postdoctoral candidates for the positions listed at Careers at SLAC.

Thanksgiving Holiday Operating Schedule

SSRL beam line operations will end at 4 pm on Wednesday, November 23, when SSRL will shut down for the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, November 24, through Friday morning, November 25. SPEAR operators will begin to restart beginning at 6 pm and beam should be delivered to users before noon on Friday, November 25 (usually beam is restored ~10 am). Although the offices will be closed over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the SSRL Duty Operator (DO) will be on duty 24/7 when beam lines are open.

User Research Administration

Beam Time Requests

  • Xray / VUV - November 1, 2022   (February – April cycle)
  • Macromolecular Crystallography - January 20, 2023   (March – May cycle)

Proposal Deadlines

  • Xray / VUV - November 1, 2022 (for beam time eligibility beginning in May 2023)
  • Macromolecular Crystallography - December 1, 2022 (for beam time eligibility beginning in March 2023)
  • CryoEM biology-related proposals for the S2C2 program are due on the first day of each month and are being reviewed on a monthly basis.

Submit beam time requests and proposals through the User Portal.

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