SSRL COVID-19 Updates

SSRL is gradually resuming operations to support:

Please contact beam line staff to determine the ability of a specific beamline to support mail-in/remote access. We will post a table of available beamline capabilities as soon as possible.

The health and safety of our staff, users, students, and visitors remains our top priority. We are working to define the path to allow in-person users back on site, taking into account the dynamic public health situation. We will continue to monitor and adapt to changing conditions onsite, in the surrounding communities, in our state and nationwide.


SPEAR and Beam Line Schedules

SSRL Operations Update & Re-Start Planning

Rapid Access to Support COVID-19 Related Research

COVID-19 Related News


SSRL Operations Update

Our summer 2020 shutdown was revised for July-August in order to resume operations in September (rather than mid October as originally planned). A longer SPEAR shutdown is being planned for March/April 2021 for more extensive maintenance and upgrade projects. With the other DOE synchrotrons scheduled to be down in September, rescheduling our downtime made at least one synchrotron in the US available continuously to support research.

Planning is underway for the 2021 run (October-July). SPEAR3 has re-started, and beam lines are gradually re-opening with initial x-ray experiments performed primarily either by remote accss or by beam line staff through mail-in samples (without on-site users). SSRL aims to gradually introduce local (Northern California) users to the SSRL experimental floor towards the end of 2020.

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 March-July 2020 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 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, training, 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. Contact the User Office if you have questions about how COVID-19 impacts your experiments or to request an extension for impacted proposals.

The SSRL/LCLS users' conference is a virtual rather than an on-site meeting -- Sept. 28-Oct. 9, 2020.

Re-Start Planning

The process of re-starting is moving ahead carefully and is undertaken with significant input from DOE via the Bay Area Site Office. When we resume operations after our summer shutdown, we plan to gradually open 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 2021 run schedule are being determined taking into account the following:

     i.    User input:  SSRL staff will revew beam time requests and contact users to better understand which experiments can be performed within the expected constraints, including availability of resources, equipment configuration, sample handling, potential safety issues, remote or mail-in abilities and other logistical considerations.

      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 November 1st. New crystallography proposals can be sutmitted by December 1st.

6. SSRL is working 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.

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).

The situation is still dynamic, 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 8/21/2020)

Support COVID-19 Related Research

We welcme Rapid Access proposals for COVID-19 related studies. Please contact us if you have COVID-19 related projects that require access to our techniques or beam lines.

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

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

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