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Vol. 15, No. 2 - September 2014

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From the Director of SSRL: Assuming the Directorship

Kelly Gaffney
Assuming the Directorship of SSRL has been an enormously exciting and humbling experience. Exciting because of the opportunities and challenges that await us; humbling because of the commitment and loyalty of the SSRL workforce sets a high standard for achievement. I have worked hard over the past month meeting with the SSRL team and look forward to getting to know the SSRL user community at the User’s meeting and during the upcoming experimental run.

SSRL blazed a trail in x-ray science during the past 40 years, helping to set the stage for the enormous expansion in x-ray facilities around the world. Over the next few years DOE Basic Energy Sciences will significantly expand the capabilities at NSLS-II, add LCLS-II to the facility roster, and significantly enhance the capabilities of the APS. We have an urgent need to refine our strategic goals in alignment with the SLAC strategic plan, and use our goals as a road map for keeping SSRL at the scientific forefront in a world populated with ultimate storage rings.

We must construct a strategy that will accentuate the unique opportunities present at SLAC. Critical to our future is demonstrating that the union of the technical and scientific expertise associated with ring and linear accelerator based x-ray sources creates transformative scientific achievements that could not be achieved without close collaboration. This requires LCLS and SSRL to identify and prioritize scientific opportunities where the different facilities present complementary capabilities. We need close interactions with the user community in areas where investment in unique technical capabilities will drive state-of-the-art scientific opportunities. SSRL will continue to develop capabilities able to bridge the gap between basic and applied research, an effort clearly aligned with the SLAC strategic plan.

The scientific success of SSRL and the scientific success of the user community are deeply entwined. We need the insight, creativity, and effort of user scientists to help us identify and execute our strategic plans. I encourage all of you to reach out to me and the SSRL team with your ideas and aspirations. Together we will define the future of SSRL.

Science Highlight


A New Link between Human and Bacterial Signaling MachineriesContacts: Philip J. Kranzusch and Jennifer Doudna, HHMI/UC-Berkeley/LBNL

Sensor proteins that detect bacteria and viruses are key players of the human immune system. Despite their notable importance, little is known about how these sensors emerged in humans, and the way they work often remains a mystery. An x-ray study at SSRL has now shed light on the mechanism of the recently discovered human sensor protein cGAS and provided unexpected evidence that it may have evolved from related proteins in bacteria. The researchers were also able to reprogram cGAS and alter its mechanism – an approach of potential therapeutic interest.  Read more...

SSRL Melvin P. Klein Scientific Development Award Announced

Researcher Wins X-ray Science Award for SSRL Work Aiding Chemistry Studies

Excerpted from September 2, 2014 SLAC News Feature

Chris Pollock, a postdoctoral researcher at The Pennsylvania State University, whose research at SSRL  was key in adapting an x-ray technique to probe chemical bonds in new ways, has been named the latest recipient of an annual scientific award. Pollock will receive the Melvin P. Klein Scientific Development Award in an October 9 ceremony at the LCLS/SSRL Annual Users' Meeting and Workshops.

"I was super-surprised to see the email from the award committee that said, 'Congratulations,'" Pollock said. "I'm very happy and appreciative that I was chosen."

The researcher had his first hands-on experience in x-ray science at SSRL five years ago, while pursuing his PhD at Cornell University. Pollock was part of a team that used x-rays to explore the electronic structure of an iron-containing compound. "It was very much a 'fly-by-the-seat-of-your pants' kind of learning experience," he said. "It was a fun and intense way of doing science. I got hooked and I've been doing it ever since."

SSRL has been an ideal venue for his work, he said, because researchers can test samples with several x-ray techniques during the same visit. "You can get all of the data you need to tell the complete story," he said.   Read more ...  

SSRL Users' Organization Update

Vote for SSRL Users' Executive Committee by October 9

Contacts: Colleen Hansel (WHOI, UEC Chair), Stosh Kozimor (LANL, UEC Vice Chair)

SSRL has a Users' Executive Committee (UEC) that includes user representatives from various scientific areas that utilize SSRL beam lines. The UEC provides an organized framework for interaction between the users and SSRL/SLAC Management. UEC members are elected by the scientific community to communicate the interests of users regarding SSRL operations and user support. The committee meets several times throughout the year – we encourage participation, feedback and suggestions from the general scientific user community. To get involved or to learn more about the UEC, please contact us or join us for meetings. We encourage you to contact any of the UEC members to share your ideas.

This year we will elect new members in the areas listed below. Please take a few minutes now to review the candidates and cast your ballot for the 2014/2015 SSRL UEC for users from these areas (ballots close at 9 am PACIFIC on October 9):

  •   Biospectroscopy/Bio Small Angle Scattering
  •   Industry
  •   Chemistry/Materials
  •   Graduate Student Representatives (from any discipline)

Vote at:

We will announce the election results at the beginning of the afternoon plenary session of the SSRL/LCLS Users' Conference.

We hope that you are able to participate in the October 7-10 Annual Users' Conference and workshops as well as the Users’ Organization discussion with facility directors at noon on October 9 (in the ROB).

Upcoming Onsite Events

SSRL/LCLS Annual Users' Meeting and Workshops, October 7-10, 2014

Help us spread the news about the SSRL/LCLS Annual Users' Meeting and Workshops, October 7-10, 2014. The activities scheduled over this multi-day event provide opportunities to learn about the latest user research results, current/future capabilities and new science opportunities as well as to interact with other scientists and vendors of light source related products and services.  Meeting website

Come out to hear updates from the SLAC Director, LCLS & SSRL Directors, DOE, speakers and exhibitors during the plenary session on October 9:

Keynote Speakers: Brian Kobilka, Thomas Elsaesser, Wanli Yang

Ying Diao will give the Spicer Award talk titled,"From Molecules to Devices – Controlled Assembly of Organic Semiconductors During Solution Printing"

Chris Pollock will give the Klein Award presentation on "Kβ Mainline X-ray Emission Spectroscopy (XES) as a Quantitative Probe of Metal-Ligand Covalency"

In addition to the plenary session on October 9, several parallel workshops will be held October 7, 8 and 10

  • In-situ/Operando Characterization of Soft Materials (Oct. 7)
  • Progress Toward Single Particle Imaging (Oct. 7)
  • Application of LCLS in Industrial Research (Oct. 7-8)
  • Advances in Actinide Science from Synchrotron Spectroscopy -Joint SSRL/ALS Workshop (Oct. 8)
  • LCLS Detector Development (Oct. 8)
  • LCLS Data Collection, Diagnostics, Analysis, Interpretation (Oct. 8)
  • In-Situ Studies of Inorganic Transition-Metal Complexes (Oct. 8)
  • International Year of Crystallography - X-ray Diffraction Success Stories (Oct. 8)
  • Characterizing and Controlling Chemical Dynamics - New Approaches to Resolving Long Standing Questions in Chemical Reactivity (Oct. 10)
  • Looking Ahead: SAM Developers Forum (Oct. 10)
  • Resonant Soft X-ray Scattering (Oct. 10)
  • Sample Delivery Systems (Oct. 10)
  • Software for Serial Crystallography (Oct. 10)

The SSRL & LCLS Users' Organizations look forward to seeing you at the Annual Users' Meeting!

Other Events and Announcements

High Power Laser Workshop, October 7-8, 2014

A workshop on High Power Lasers will be organized on October 7-8, 2014 at Stanford University Munger Graduate Residence Conference Center. Paul Brest Hall is located in Building 4 at 555 Salvatierra Walk and Nathan Abbott Way.  Shuttle service will be provided between SLAC and campus. See workshop website

ALS User Meeting, October 6–8, 2014

More information is available at the Meeting website

12th International Conference on Synchrotron Radiation Instrumentation, July 6-10, 2015, New York City

More information is available at the Conference website

NUFO Incorporation in Progress

In the months ahead, NUFO will undergo a transition from its long-standing ad hoc status to formal incorporation as a non-profit organization. The new structure will help to clarify the relationship between NUFO, scientific users, and facilities, while also broadening options for fundraising and operations. Incorporation is also a necessary step in order to address potential legal liabilities.  Read more in the NUFO August 2014 newsletter

User Research Administration Update

  • Beam Time Requests
    Submit SSRL X-ray/VUV Beam Time Requests by November 15 to be considered for beam time in the scheduling period covering February-May 2015.

  • Proposal Deadlines
    The next deadline for both X-ray/VUV and Macromolecular Crystallography proposals is December 1. 

    Submit proposals and beam time requests through the user portal.

The Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) is a third-generation light source producing extremely bright x-rays for basic and applied research.  SSRL attracts and supports scientists from around the world who use its state-of-the-art capabilities to make discoveries that benefit society. SSRL, a U.S. DOE Office of Science national user facility, is a Directorate of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, operated by Stanford University for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science.  The SSRL Structural Molecular Biology Program is supported by the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research, and by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of General Medical Sciences. For more information about SSRL science, operations and schedules, visit

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Questions? Comments? Contact Lisa Dunn