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SSRL Headlines Vol. 6, No. 8  February, 2006


Contents of this Issue:

  1. Science Highlight — First Look at Key Enzyme's Assembly
  2. Science Highlight — In Search of a Mechanism to Combat Multidrug Resistance
  3. Positive DOE Review Moves LCLS Project Forward
  4. Joint Stanford Berkeley Collaborations Yield Excellent Scientific Results
  5. SSRL's Proposal Review Panel Convenes
  6. SSRL Users' Organization Executive Committee Met on February 13
  7. Upcoming Public Lecture, Meetings, Conferences, Workshops
  8. Celebrates Its First Year Online
  9. User Administration Update
  10. Photon Science Job Opportunities

1.  Science Highlight — First Look at Key Enzyme's Assembly
      (contacts: M. Corbett,; K. O. Hodgson,; B. Hedman,

SSRL and Stanford scientists, in collaboration with a team from UC Irvine, have gotten the first look into how the metal active center of an enzyme that is largely responsible for fertilizing plants is assembled. This enzyme, which is called nitrogenase, certain bacteria employ to turn nitrogen from the air into a form that plants can use for healthy growth. In contrast to the enzymatic reaction, manufacturing nitrogen fertilizer chemically requires extreme pressures and temperatures and thus huge amounts of energy.

The reduction of nitrogen takes place at the enzyme's core, a multicomponent complex called FeMoco made up of iron, molybdenum and sulfur. FeMoco is built by an "assembly line" of proteins outside of the enzyme. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine isolated a precursor to FeMoco bound to one of the assembly proteins toward the end of this "assembly line". Using x-ray absorption spectroscopy techniques at SSRL BL9-3, researchers revealed that at this stage in the assembly of FeMoco, the complex has not yet incorporated molybdenum atoms. This suggests that the iron core of FeMoco is assembled early on in the process, and that a simple reaction to add molybdenum is one of the last steps. This picture of one step in the pathway is the first time anyone has shown any of the steps in the assembly.

 FeMoco figure

To learn more about this research published in the January 31, 2006 issue of PNAS see:

2.  Science Highlight — In Search of a Mechanism to Combat Multidrug Resistance
      (contact: G. Chang,
EmrE figure

Using x-ray crystallography at SSRL and other U.S. light sources, Geoffrey Chang's group at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, has recently solved the crystal structure of the Escherichia coli multidrug resistance protein E (EmrE). EmrE is a multidrug transporter that actively pushes drugs from bacterial cells, thereby reducing the efficacy of commonly prescribed antibiotics such as erythromycin and tetracycline in fighting infectious diseases.

The structural information revealed by Dr. Chang's ongoing multidrug transporter studies may provide insight into new approaches for combating the global threat of bacterial strains resistant to current antibiotics. This should come as welcome news to the World Health Organization which estimates the current total cost of treating all hospital-borne antibiotic resistant bacterial infections at $10 billion a year.

To learn more about this research published in the December 23, 2005 issue of Science see:

brochure image
downloadable brochure
3.   Positive DOE Review Moves LCLS Project Forward
      (contact: J. Galayda,

The Linac Coherent Light Source Project was given a clean bill of health in its Office of Science project review, 7-9 February 2006. This positive review outcome was an essential prerequisite for Critical Decision 3b, Approval to Start Construction (official approval from the DOE to complete the LCLS Project).

Nineteen reviewers and eight DOE observers spent three days going over the technical cost and schedule aspects of the work planned between now and the end of the Project (March 2009). Drs. Patricia Dehmer and Pedro Montano, of the DOE Basic Energy Sciences Office, attended the entire review.

The review committee was impressed with the strengthening of the LCLS Project staff and the technical progress made in the past year by the LCLS teams at Argonne National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and SLAC. The committee also recommended that due emphasis be placed on clearing the way for Turner Construction Company to start earth moving activities in June.

In order to make way for LCLS construction, the Final Focus Test Beam must be dismantled. Its last run will be completed at 6:00 am, April 10, 2006. This facility has been an invaluable tool for accelerator research since 1993. More recently it was modified to serve the Sub-Picosecond Pulse Source, a testbed for LCLS experiment concepts and a source of exciting scientific results that can be obtained using an intense source of ultrafast x-ray pulses.

4.  Joint Stanford Berkeley Collaborations Yield Excellent Scientific Results

Z.-X. Shen
Z.-X. Shen
A February 1 article in the Stanford Report highlighted recent experimental results in the area of solid-state physics that essentially debunk the 'pseudogap' role in superconductivity. According to the article, Z.-X. Shen, a Stanford professor of Physics, Applied Physics and SSRL, along with his collaborators, several of whom hold joint appointments at Stanford and Berkeley, used facilities at the Advanced Light Source to identify pseudogaps in manganites, manganese oxide materials that, below a certain critical temperature, become ferromagnetic and display colossal magnetoresistance. The pseudogaps found in these manganites are the same as those found in the high-temperature superconducting copper oxide materials (cuprates), even though ferromagnetism is the antithesis of superconductivity. For the full story see:

A. Nilsson
Another member of the SSRL Faculty, Anders Nilsson, along with collaborators from Sweden, Germany and the U.S., has published breakthrough results in the area of dynamics of liquid water. For more information on their findings recently published in PRL, see the February 22, 2006 edition of the ALSNews:

Additional information on research done by the Shen and Nilsson groups can be found at the SSRL Science Highlights Archive and the SSRL Faculty Page.

5.  SSRL's Proposal Review Panel Convenes
      (contact: J. Stöhr,

Members of the SSRL Proposal Review Panel (PRP) met on February 6, 2006. At this meeting Jo Stöhr gave the committee an update on recent developments including the SSRL organizational structure, SPEAR operations, budget, beam line status and upgrades, management actions and future new beam lines. SSRLUOEC Chair Joy Andrews (CSUEB) discussed recent activities by the SSRL Users' Organization Executive Committee. Cathy Knotts wrapped up the open-session agenda with an update on user research administration. In the executive session, the panel provided strategic advice to the SSRL directorate and determined ratings based on the peer reviews received for the 49 new proposals submitted during this last call for proposals. The PRP and the new SSRL Scientific Advisory Panel Members will meet next on July 16-18, 2006.

6.   SSRL Users' Organization Executive Committee Met on February 13
       (contact: J. Andrews,

The SSRL Users' Organization Executive Committee (SSRLUOEC), which represents the entire SSRL user community, works closely with SSRL/SLAC management on internal issues of interest to the users as well as externally with other user organization representatives for such activities as user advocacy, outreach and education. At the February 13, 2006 SSRLUOEC meeting, updates were presented on SSRL beam line upgrades, plans for top-up injection, plans for the 33rd annual SSRL Users' Meeting and workshops, coordinating activities with the SLAC Users' Organization (SLUO), user administration and communications. Progress in arranging meetings in Washington in April for representatives of the four DOE synchrotron users' organizations as well as the neutron facilities was also discussed. A pamphlet summarizing who we are, what we do, and why basic sciences and user facilities our important is in preparation. A copy of the 2005 briefing document is available at the American Physical Society website:

The SSRLUOEC members were pleased to report that science, technology and innovation-based initiatives in the U.S. received more publicity and support in February, with a recent article in Time,,10987,1156575,00.html, and the President's American Competitiveness Initiative. Users are encouraged to continue to communicate the need to support basic sciences with their local elected officials. The SSRLUOEC needs users to be aware of and responsive to issues important to the user community. We are here to support your needs, so please contact anyone on the SSRLUOEC with your feedback, suggestions, or questions. We look forward to seeing you at the next SSRLUOEC meeting on April 17, as well as the annual meeting to be held on October 12-13, 2006.

7.   Upcoming Public Lecture, Meetings, Conferences, Workshops

Poster Image
Public Lecture on Arsenic: The Silent Killer, February 28, 2006, SLAC, Menlo Park, CA: In this presentation Dr. Andrea Foster (USGS) will review the long and complicated history with arsenic, describe how x-rays have helped explain the high yet spatially variable arsenic concentrations in Bangladesh, discuss the ways in which land use in Bangladesh may be exacerbating the problem and summarize the impact of this silent killer on drinking water systems worldwide.

Workshop on Synchrotron X-ray Scattering Techniques in Materials and Environmental Sciences: Theory and Application, May 16-17, 2006, SSRL/SLAC, Menlo Park, CA: Modern synchrotron-based X-ray scattering (SR-XRS) techniques offer the ability to probe nano- and atomic-scale structures and order/disorder relationships that critically govern the properties of advanced technological and environmental materials. The high collimation, intensity, and tunability of SR allow the investigation of a wide range of materials, including thin films and interfaces, nanoparticles, amorphous materials, solutions, hydrated and disordered bacteriogenic minerals and highly crystalline materials. Good planning and a working knowledge of beam lines, in addition to technique, are keys to conducting successful SR-XRS measurements. This workshop will provide a practical users' guide to planning and conducting scattering measurements and will emphasize topics that best be obtained only through on-the-experiment training. Space is limited; register at:

Nanoanalysis Workshop, July 10-11, 2006, ETH Zentrum, Zurich, Switzerland: The CEAC (Center of Excellence in Analytical Chemistry), the organisations optETH and the Micro and Nano Science Platform from ETH Zurich, are organizing a joint Workshop on nanoscale analysis: properties of individual wires, layers, atomic and molecular structures, to be held July 10-11. Keynote speakers include: Alfred Benninghoven, IHK Nord Westfalen, Münster, Deutschland; Satoshi Kawata, Osaka University, Japan; Robert J. Hamers, University of Wisconsin Madison, USA; Seizo Morita, Osaka University, Japan; Joachim Stöhr, SSRL/Stanford, USA; and Eduard Arzt, Max-Planck-Institute for Metals Res., Stuttgart, Deutschland. This 2-day workshop provides a platform for information exchange and discussion between nanoscale scientists and nanotechnologists together with experts in state-of-the-art analytical methods. Current challenges and novel solutions are discussed in view of the evolving capabilities and requirements for physical and chemical analysis on the nanometer scale. The workshop aims to identify and discuss future robust analytical methodologies for the nanoworld.

XAFS13, July 9-14, 2006, Stanford, CA: The 13th International Conference on X-ray Absorption Fine Structure (XAFS13) constitutes an international conference series held every three years. The last two XAFS conferences took place in Malmö, Sweden (2003) and Ako, Japan (2000). The scope of the conference is X-ray Absorption Fine Structure and related topics. Many techniques and the theory focusing on XAFS-related phenomena will be covered, as will applications to a wide range of scientific areas. Submit scientific abstracts by March 15; early registration for XAFS 13 ends May 1.

33rd Annual SSRL Users' Meeting & Workshops, October 11-13, 2006, Menlo Park, CA: The 2006 Users' Meeting will be chaired by Chris Kim (Chapman University) and Aaron Lindenberg (SSRL). The meeting will likely follow the format of various sessions around techniques and disciplines, a young investigators session, and a poster session as well as various workshops. Please contact Chris or Aaron with your suggestions for session topics, speakers or ideas for workshops that could include current or future capabilities at SSRL. Workshops on areas of mutual interest could also be conducted jointly with the ALS Users' Meeting.


8. Celebrates Its First Year Online
      (contact: C. Knotts,, the only Web site to comprehensively feature news, information and educational materials about all the world's synchrotron radiation and free electron laser facilities, celebrated its first anniversary in February 2006. Sponsored by 21 of the world's major light sources, this site is updated daily and serves as a clearing house for information on all the world's light sources, featuring news, proposal deadlines, a calendar of upcoming user meetings and scientific conferences, and job opportunities, as well as a wealth of helpful links to resources of all kinds. A newsflash service offers immediate updates via email as soon as news relevant to light sources is released to the public. To subscribe to the News Flash email list, please visit:

Through the past year, has grown significantly in content and traffic. More than 150 press releases and over 600 synchrotron-related press items have been listed on the Web site and distributed to subscribers--via email and RSS. Web traffic is continually increasing and is now averaging over 100,000 page views/month. maintains an archive of press coverage--by member facility, topic and date. The top synchrotron news from 2005 (based on press coverage) includes the work on the Archimedes Palimpsest, Beethoven's lead poisoning, and antibiotic resistance; for more details visit:

9.  User Administration Update
      (contacts: C. Knotts,; L. Dunn,

The next deadline for submitting new Macromolecular Crystallography proposals is April 1; new X-ray and VUV proposals are due by May 1. For more information on the proposal submittal, review and scheduling process, visit:

10.   Photon Science Job Opportunities

A number of positions are currently available at LCLS and SSRL. Please refer to the Photon Science Job Openings page at for more information about these job opportunities.


SSRL Headlines is published electronically monthly to inform SSRL users, sponsors and other interested people about happenings at SSRL. SSRL is a national synchrotron user facility operated by Stanford University for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences. Additional support for the structural biology program is provided by the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research, the NIH National Center for Research Resources and the NIH Institute for General Medical Sciences. Additional information about SSRL and its operation and schedules is available from the SSRL WWW site.


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Last Updated: 28 FEB 2006
Content Owner: L. Dunn
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