SSRL COVID-19 Updates

SSRL Operations Update

SSRL Re-Start Planning

General SSRL User Operations

Rapid Access to Support COVID-19 Related Research

COVID-19 Related News


In March, SSRL joined other DOE light sources and facilities around the world in operating SPEAR3 and a few beam lines for COVID-19 related research. (updated June 2020)

SSRL Operations Update

The process of recovering operations at SLAC is moving ahead gradually and carefully.  This process is undertaken with significant input from DOE via the Bay Area Site Office. Our shortened SPEAR3 summer downtime began on July 15, anticipating that we will be able to resume operations in September. With the other DOE synchrotrons scheduled to be down in September, rescheduling our downtime makes at least one synchrotron in the US available continuously to support research.

In addition to the SSRL beam lines, several cryo-electron microscopes are available in buildings 006 and 057. Great attention is being paid to the need for face coverings, physical distancing, and provision of PPE and clean-as-you-go supplies. Safety signs, including path-of-travel indicators, are going up on the SSRL experimental floor and in our other buildings in preparation for expansion of our activities. On coming back up, we plan to initially operate in a mode in which x-ray experiments are performed solely by our beam line staff. Significant effort is being devoted to building an effective sample mail-in program with remote access for most of our beam lines.  We will aim to gradually introduce local (Northern California) users to the SSRL experimental floor as we approach the end of 2020. (updated July 2020)

SSRL Re-Start Planning

SSRL is currently planning for user operations for the remainder of 2020 and 2021. Despite the general suspension of most on-site activities as a result of the shelter-in-place order in Spring 2020, we were able to operate SPEAR3 and a few beam line stations in support of research to address the pandemic: BL12-1, BL12-2, BL9-2 and BL14-1 for Structural Molecular Biology macromolecular crystallography; BL4-2 for biological small-angle X-ray scattering; BL6-2 for transmission X-ray microscopy (TXM); BL7-3 for biological X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS); BL2-3/BL10-2a for XAS imaging; and BL11-3/BL10-2b for materials sciences X-ray scattering studies.

In the next phase (when we resume operations after our summer shutdown), we plan to open a few additional beam lines to support user research. While many specifics are still unknown, we would like to share our current plans with our user community to facilitate planning for future experiments.

Our approach will be guided by the following points:

1.    The health and safety of our staff, users and visitors is paramount.

2.    We seek to maximize the scientific impact of SSRL.

3.    Access to SLAC will likely be restricted for an extended period of time in order to comply with SLAC/DOE, county, state, city, and/or U.S. national health directives and travel restrictions.

4.   Details of these restrictions are unpredictable, but will inevitably present challenges to the user program at SSRL.

5.   Details of the remainder of the SSRL 2020 run schedule are currently being determined. We will seek to develop an initial run schedule over the next several weeks, taking into account the following:

     i.    User input:  SSRL will be reaching out to spokespersons for each proposal that previously requested beam time for March-July 2020. We will seek input on the availability of samples, remote or mail-in abilities and other logistical constraints.

      ii.   Additional experiments: COVID-19 research proposals will be given priority access. Users are invited to submit rapid access proposals for COVID-19 related research.

      iii   Duration of experiments:  Because of site access restrictions and the ES&H protocols associated with COVID-19, more time will be required for experimental setup and execution.

     iv.   Next call for proposals and extensions:  We plan to maintain our existing deadlines to submit new proposals, extension requests and beam time requests. The next opportunity to submit new standard X-ray/VUV proposals/extension requests or beam time requests for active proposals is August 1st.

6. SSRL will work to expand remote access/mail-in capabilities, allowing a proposal team to carry out experiments without on-site presence. We recognize that this is not ideal and may not be practical in some cases.

We are coordinating operations with other DOE light sources to facilitate continued availability of beam lines for COVID-19 and other user research. This may impact the SSRL operating schedule during the remainder of 2020.

As we move forward, we will continue to seek direction from DOE-BES and advice from advisory panels, including the SSRL Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC).

Overall, there will be fewer experiments scheduled this year. Proposed experiments that are not compatible with the current restrictions or are otherwise impacted by COVID-19 may be eligible for a one-year proposal extension (contact us for details).

Over the coming months, beam line staff will contact users who previously submitted beam time requests that were either canceled or not scheduled due to COVID-19. We will seek to better understand which experiments can be performed within the expected constraints. Please understand that this is still a dynamic situation, and things will inevitably change. SSRL is doing everything possible to continue to perform world class science and to ensure the health and safety of our staff and users.

Please contact us know if you have any comments or questions. (updated 5/29/2020)

General SSRL User Operations

Our summer 2020 maintenance shutdown has been revised to begin the week of July 15th (rather than August 10th), so that we can resume operations in September (rather than mid October as originally planned). A longer shutdown is being planned for March 2021 for more extensive maintenance and upgrade projects.

See SLAC Emergency for site-wide COVID-19 information.

Rapid Access to Support COVID-19 Related Research

From March 23 through July 13, SSRL gradually opened a few beam lines under minimum operations mode for remote/mail-in access to support critical COVID-19 related work: BL12-1, BL12-2, BL9-2 and BL14-1 for Structural Molecular Biology macromolecular crystallography; BL4-2 for biological small-angle X-ray scattering; BL6-2 for transmission X-ray microscopy (TXM); BL7-3 for biological X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS); BL2-3/BL10-2a for XAS imaging; and BL11-3/BL10-2b for materials sciences X-ray scattering studies. Please contact us if you have COVID-19 related projects that require access to these or other techniques or beam lines.

See instructions for submitting a Rapid Access proposal for COVID-19 related studies. For administrative questions contact the SSRL User Research Administration office.

The Stanford-SLAC Cryo-EM research facilities are also operational for COVID-19 related research, see Stanford-SLAC Cryo-EM Center (S2C2) and National Center for Macromolecular Imaging (NCMI).

Department of Energy Basic Energy Sciences light sources want to ensure they are doing everything possible to enable research into this virus and the search for an effective vaccine or other treatment. The DOE supports research into structural biology in partnership with the National Institutes of Health, and other partners. This portal collects relevant structural biology resources in a single location, listing their basic characteristics and a point of contact for each.

COVID-19 Related News and Links

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