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SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

SSRLUO Executive Committee Meeting Minutes

Meeting Notes: Friday, June 8, 2007, Conference Call

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Participants Joy Andrews, Chris Kim, Cathy Knotts, Richard Lee, Wayne Lukens, Art Nelson, Stephane Richard, Robert Szilagyi, Glenn Waychunas.

Chris Kim, SSRLUOEC Chair, welcomed the meeting participants and began the conference call. Notes follow.

National User Facilities Organization (NUFO): ALS hosted a meeting of user facility representatives, user administrators, and interested parties at LBNL on June 4-5. Joy Andrews, Chris Kim, and Cathy Knotts participated in the meeting to represent SSRL. Information related the meeting, including a list of participants, agenda and links to several of the presentations can be found at the meeting website: A steering committee was formed at the meeting to work on developing a NUFO mission statement and beginning to determine how the group would organize future activities. It was suggested that the UEC's designate a advocacy representative to NUFO, and that this individual be someone who is interested in advocacy and in establishing long-term relationships with Congressional representatives and staffers in DC and/or in their home district. One goal of NUFO might be to better coordinate advocacy activities so that the SNUG folks know when HEP plans trips to DC and vice versa so that meetings could be scheduled for maximum coverage and impact.

User Advocacy: SNUG Chair Joy Andrews gave a summary of recent Synchrotron and Neutron Users Group (SNUG) activities which include plans for another trip to DC in June. Joy raised the issue of establishing a more formal structure for the SNUG along the lines of the proposed structure for NUFO. It was suggested that a vice chair could be elected and member terms could be staggered for approximately 3 years to ensure that the committee maintains continuity and gets the benefit of members' experience and guidance. There was also a suggestion to have an advocacy subcommittee to the SSRLUOEC in order to coordinate activities with SNUG and NUFO as well as to quickly mobilize users for various activities as opportunities arise (letter writing campaigns, thank you letters, visits to DC, local congressional visits, talking points/handouts for meetings, etc.).

SSRL User Survey:: Chris Kim drafted a letter to SSRL Director Jo Stöhr summarizing the results of the user survey conducted in January (results were also shared with the SSRL Scientific Advisory Committee at their February meeting). Results have been posted to the SSRL website.

A suggestion was made to ask SSRL to consider shifting the summer shutdown for upgrades and maintenance until later August. This would allow users who have heavy teaching obligations during the school year to conduct experiments, and this may also facilitate more participation in beam time by undergraduate students who have time in the summer.

Undergraduate Research Initiatives:: Chris Kim shared a draft of his letter to Jo Stöhr regarding undergraduate research. The SSRL-UOEC plans to propose several initiatives to facilitate the participation of undergraduate students in conducting research at SSRL, with the following rationale: Providing undergraduate students with greater opportunities to conduct scientific research at a top-level facility will help encourage them to continue their studies in graduate science programs;

  • The user interface for beam line software and safety controls on beam line hardware have improved markedly over the years, making its use accessible to users at the undergraduate level;
  • An increasing number of users who began using synchrotrons as graduate students or post-docs are accepting faculty positions at undergraduate institutions, where fewer institutional resources may pose challenges to continuing synchrotron-based research;
  • SSRL would diversify its range of both users and user institutions by establishing programs to encourage undergraduate research;
  • Such programs exist at other institutions, such as the National Synchrotron Light Source's Faculty-Student Research Support Program, targeted towards new users and newly-appointed assistant professors within 2 years of their initial appointment.
The SSRL-UOEC would like to work with SSRL administration to consider different methods of facilitating undergraduate research. This includes but is not limited to:
  • Housing subsidies at the Stanford Guest House for undergraduate student users;
  • Grants for undergraduate student travel to SSRL; we suggest an annual budget of $15K, or $5K/scheduling period;
  • Scheduling priority for users working with undergraduates, who are more constrained by course loads and often only free during weekends and vacations/breaks;
  • SSRL internships for undergraduates during the summer/winter;
  • Shifting the shutdown period to later in the summer, providing a greater portion of the summer for research when undergraduates are much more available;
  • The inclusion of broader impacts as a factor in proposal reviews and ratings, similar to the National Science Foundation's proposal requirements.

Annual Users' Meeting: Robert Szilagyi (SSRLUOEC Vice Chair; Montana State University) provided a update on plans the annual users' meeting which will be a joint SSRL and LCLS meeting. There will be an SSRLUOEC meeting on the afternoon of Tuesday, October 2 ~1-5 pm, and we need exciting topics to encourage people to stay after the conference to participate in the meeting as well as to attend the keynote presentation by Roger Kornberg later that evening (5:45-6:30 pm). Suggestions included: the top 5 things you need to know to be a SR user; a mini advocacy workshop; a discussion of 500mA plans and top off injection and what it means for user experiments; feedback from the January 2007 user survey and what issues people want feedback on for the 2008 survey.

EnviroSync Workshop: Chris announced that in mid July, there will an environmental science workshop in DC - EnviroSync. Chris will forward additional information to interested users. User input is requested.

Next meeting:: Chris suggested scheduling the next SSRLUOEC meeting be held on July 20th.

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