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Vol. 16, No. 4 - October 2015

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From the Director – A Roadmap for the Future

Kelly Gaffney
The end of each fiscal year prompts all of us at the lab to reflect on the events of the past many months as we plan and prepare for the new year ahead. At SSRL, we reflect on the past year as part of our preparation for new and returning users who will soon arrive for the experimental run starting November 9. In FY15, SSRL supported over 1,600 users, with nearly 90 percent of them judging their experience at SSRL to be excellent. The workshops at the LCLS/SSRL Annual Users' Meeting earlier this month stimulated real enthusiasm for the future of x-ray science at SLAC. Many of the workshops highlighted scientific opportunities critical to the future of both SSRL and LCLS. Five workshops focused on time-resolved x-ray science, a critical area of science for LCLS that takes advantage of the unique peak intensity of x-ray laser pulses, and a key area for developing scientific synergy between SSRL and LCLS. The workshop on scientific opportunities in the tender x-ray regime (2-5 keV) also emphasized research areas at SSRL and LCLS. SSRL has a long history of chemistry and biology research in this energy range and the match between this energy range and the photon energy range that will be initially accessible at LCLS-II makes it an area of growing strategic importance.

Science Highlights

Crystal Structure of the Synaptotagmin-SNARE Complex Essential for Synchronous Synaptic Neurotransmission Enabled by Goniometer-based Femtosecond Macromolecular Crystallography

Neurons in our brains communicate via neurotransmitter signaling molecules. When prompted by a calcium signal, the cells can release neurotransmitters at speeds of less than one-thousandth of a second. This lightning-fast process is carried out by a protein complex of synaptotagmin-1, which detects calcium, and SNARE, which provides energy for neurotransmitter release. In this Newsletter we present both the unprecedented scientific results and the developments that enabled the data to be measured, contributing to the structure determination endeavor:

Crystal Structures of the Synaptotagmin-SNARE Complex that is Essential for Synchronous Synaptic Neurotransmitter Release – Contact: Axel Brunger (Stanford University)

Read Science Highlight
Goniometer-based Femtosecond Macromolecular Crystallography - Contact: Aina Cohen (SSRL)

Read Science Highlight

More SSRL-related Science

X-ray Study Reveals New Details of How Burrowing Sea Creatures Shape Geology

Excerpted from October 14, 2015 SLAC News Feature

An international team of scientists used SSRL's Beam Line 6-2 to image the chemistry of rock samples containing well-preserved 80-million-year-old fossilized burrows, which may have been made by millimeter-sized bristly worms known as polychaetes. They found that the worms appeared to concentrate some chemical elements in their burrows while depleting others.

The study, recently published online in the journal Geology, provides new insight into how ancient sea worms interact with the sediment on the ocean bottom and control the composition and geochemical signature of rocks formed by that sediment, which today serve as markers for ancient climate patterns and oil and gas reservoirs.

The pioneering x-ray fluorescence scanning method that researchers used at SSRL opens up new ways to study Earth's distant environmental and geological past and supports research about the formation of hydrocarbon deposits.  Read more...

Synchrotron Radiation News -- Pioneers of Synchrotron Radiation

The July/August edition of Synchrotron Radiation News (SRN) focused on Pioneers of Synchrotron Radiation. Guest editors Gwyn Williams and Herman Winick wrote, "We consider ourselves honored to have been asked to serve as guest editors for this special issue of SRN, which focuses on personal stories from some of the people who worked with synchrotron radiation (SR) in the 1960s and early 1970s. This special edition of SRN gave us an opportunity to contact and exchange stories with many of our former colleagues and friends, and the exercise brought back many happy memories for both of us, including interacting again with each other. We recalled that we first saw synchrotron light in 1962 (HW) and 1973 (GPW), and we also remembered how exciting it was to be in this field in the early days."  Read more...

The September/October SRN also includes a special feature by Peter Eisenberger who reflected on 'Those Wonderful Pioneer Years of SSRL: A Personal Reflection'. "It is a rare moment in the history of science when a new capability is born that transforms our ability to “see” what is happening in the world in which we live. The use of the light emitted from accelerating electrons as they are bent by magnetic fields that was pioneered at SSRL in the 1970s is not just another example of this, but arguably is the most important development in the history of science in enabling us to “see” the world of electrons and atoms. There is, in addition, a special feature of the new capability enabled by synchrotron radiation: it is likely to remain, in the future, the best way to see the microscopic world forever. This is because the light used to “see” does not only have all the intensity one needs, but also because all its properties can be adjusted so as to provide the ideal illumination for the particular thing one wants to “see.” Thus, literally what was born at SSRL, which has since then been and will be continually improved, will forever provide our species the ability to “see” and understand the microscopic world in which we live."  Read more...

We have a few copies of the July/August Pioneers edition. To receive a copy, contact Cathy Knotts.  Subscribe to SRN for future editions.

Event Summaries

SSRL/LCLS Annual Users' Meeting Wrap-up

Excerpted from October 21, 2015 SLAC Today Article

More than 450 people participated in the 2015 LCLS/SSRL Users' Meeting and Workshops, an annual scientific event at SLAC that focuses on the latest research and technical capabilities at SSRL and LCLS and also features discussions about new scientific opportunities.

The event, held October 7-10, showcased the newly opened Science and User Support Building (SUSB) that will serve as the lab's entryway for new employees, tour groups, visiting scientists and other visitors. The building officially opened October 7 in a special ceremony.

During an October 8 plenary session, SLAC Director Chi-Chang Kao welcomed attendees, and LCLS Director Mike Dunne and SSRL Director Kelly Gaffney provided facility updates. Sacha Hanigan, the manager for the new Visitor, User, Employee (VUE) Center, provided an overview of the center’s services. Also, Patricia Dehmer, Acting Director of the DOE Office of Science, presented her perspective on the evolution of the national labs, and programs within the Office of Science over the last few decades. As in past years, the Users' Meeting featured a variety of scientific workshops, award presentations, poster sessions and vendor exhibits.  Read more...

Stanford and SLAC Celebrate Arthur Bienenstock

Excerpted from October 22, 2015 SLAC News Feature


Arthur “Artie” Bienenstock, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, was recently honored with an all-day symposium in recognition of his outstanding contributions to science, academia, graduate student education and U.S. science policy.

In the more than 50 years of his career, Bienenstock has held a variety of positions, many at Stanford and SLAC, and also served as a policymaker in Washington, D.C., under the Clinton administration.

About 100 guests attended the October 10 “Celebrating Artie Bienenstock” event organized by SSRL with support from Stanford’s Department of Applied Physics and Department of Materials Science and Engineering. In invited talks and informal contributions, many of Bienenstock’s close companions lauded in unison his positive impact on their lives and the scientific community in general.

“SLAC wouldn’t be the lab it is today if it weren’t for Artie,” said SLAC Director Chi-Chang Kao. “He had a tremendous impact on the development of x-ray science, which has become one of the lab’s main research areas over the years.”  Read more...


Paul Fuoss Receives Lytle Award for Developing X-ray Technique to Better Explore Materials

Excerpted from October 19, 2015 SLAC News Feature


Paul H. Fuoss has received the Farrel W. Lytle Award for developing a pioneering x-ray technique, differential anomalous scattering, that is now used worldwide to explore the structure of complex materials. The award was presented during our Annual Users' Meeting on October 8.

Fuoss was a graduate student at Stanford University four decades ago when he began research at SSRL. The scattering technique became the focus of his PhD thesis under advisor Arthur I. “Artie” Bienenstock, Professor Emeritus at SLAC and Stanford and a former SSRL Director.

The Lytle Award recognizes synchrotron-based scientific achievement and efforts to grow collaborations and make experiments more efficient. A former Boeing researcher who performed numerous experiments at SSRL and more recently at the LCLS during his career, Lytle made important contributions to x-ray science by developing a type of spectroscopy that is used to explore the structure of materials.

Fuoss had the opportunity to work in early x-ray studies at SSRL alongside Lytle, who is now retired and lives in Nevada, "I've known him well since 1976," Fuoss said. "Farrel is one of the founding people in synchrotron science and it's great to get an award named for him. This was a surprise, and I'm honored."  Read more...

Ming Yi Awarded L'Oréal USA For Women in Science Fellowship

Excerpted from October 12, 2015 SLAC News Feature


Former Stanford University graduate student Ming Yi has been awarded the $60,000 L’Oréal USA For Women in Science Fellowship, which is given to five U.S.-based women each year as part of an effort to raise awareness of women’s contributions to science and identify exceptional female researchers to serve as role models.

Yi, whose graduate research on novel materials included extensive work at SLAC, said she plans to start a support group for moms in STEM fields – science technology, engineering and mathematics – as an outreach activity under the fellowship.

Yi spent two summers at SLAC as an intern while working on a degree in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Initially drawn to particle physics, she grew interested in superconductor research, and in 2008 became a graduate student in the lab of Zhi-Xun Shen, a professor at SLAC and Stanford. She performed her seven years of graduate research within SIMES, the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences, which is SLAC’s Materials Science Division.

As part of her graduate research Yi carried out x-ray experiments on superconducting materials at both SSRL and the LCLS. Recent papers described intriguing commonalities between the two known families of high-temperature superconductors. “We found a potential bridge connecting the two families,” Yi said. “This is an important step toward an eventual understanding of the general phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity.”  Read more...

SSRL Users' Executive Committee Update

Elections for the SSRL Users' Executive Committee (UEC) were held during early October. Please join us in supporting Eddie Snell as the new Chair and welcoming the following new members to the SSRL UEC:

  • Lisa Mayhew, University of Colorado
  • Dave Bushnell, Stanford University
  • Mariano Trigo, Stanford University
  • Feng Lin, LBNL

We would like to extend our thanks to Stosh Kozimor for serving as UEC Chair this past year and also to retiring committee members Sarah Hayes, Jordi Cabana, Paul Evans and Jessica Vey.  A new Vice-Chair for the Committee will be determined soon.


2016 Panofsky Fellowship

The Panofsky Fellowship honors SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory's founder and first Director, Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky.  It is intended to recognize exceptional and promising young scientists who would most benefit from the unique opportunity to conduct their research at SLAC. 

The Fellowship celebrates W.K.H. Panofsky's breadth of activities and is awarded without regard to a candidate's particular specialty within our programs.  While an emphasis will be placed on the potential for innovation and growth of new opportunities as their career develops, the candidate's research plan should relate to one or more areas within the general scope of the science program at SLAC:

  • Accelerator science & advanced accelerator research
  • Biosciences
  • Chemical science
  • Elementary particle physics
  • High energy density matter
  • Material science
  • Particle astrophysics and cosmology
  • X-ray Science with LCLS and SSRL

Read more for application process

User Research Administration

Proposal Deadlines

  • December 1, 2015 is the deadline for submitting standard SSRL X-ray/VUV and Macromolecular Crystallography proposals. 

Beam Time Request Deadline

  • November 23 is the next X-ray/VUV Beam Time Request deadline for February - May scheduling

Submit proposals and beam time requests through the user portal.

We encourage users to 'bookmark' this SSRL Deadlines page and set a reminder for these annual deadlines in their calendars. Deadline reminders are also included in 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