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SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

SSRLUO Executive Committee Meeting Minutes

Meeting Notes: May 10, 2004 8:30 am

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Attendees:   Joy Andrews, Uwe Bergmann, Benjamin Bostick, Linda Brinen, Lisa Downward, Lisa Dunn, Britt Hedman, Keith Hodgson, Cathy Knotts, Richard Lee, Anneli Munkholm, Piero Pianetta, Tom Rabedeau, Deanne Jackson Rudd, Tim Stemmler

A meeting of the SSRL Users' Organization Executive Committee (SSRLUO-EC) was held on May 10, 2004. A summary of issues discussed follows. Follow up or action items are highlighted in bold.

  • Benjamin Bostick, SSRLUO-EC Chair, called the meeting to order shortly after 8:30 am.
  • Keith Hodgson gave a update on SSRL, SPPS, and LCLS activities. Keith summarized numerous SPEAR3 milestones from the first electrons circulating in SPEAR3 in early December 2003 to achieving 100mA stored current in January 2004 to resuming user operations in March 2004, all completed within 1 year of the shutdown as predicted. Benefits of the at-energy injection were immediately clear - typical fill times are 3-5 minutes compared to 20-30 minutes with SPEAR2. Systems are in place to implement top-off mode in the future once other goals (stable high current running) have been achieved and radiation safety issues have been worked out. In fully built out phase, SPEAR has capacity for 18 new bend and 14 ID beam lines. Two new beam lines will be added in 2006-2007: BL12 (hard x-ray in vacuum undulator beam line for macromolecular crystallography funded by Moore gift to Caltech) and BL13 (soft x-ray variable polarization undulator beam line for speckle, microscopy, and spectroscopy on nanoscale materials funded by DOE BES). Keith encouraged input from SSRLUOEC as to priority and planning for future SPEAR3 beam lines.
  • Keith summarized LCLS activities. Expected to become operational in 2008, LCLS will be the first Free Electron Laser (FEL) to produce hard x-rays spanning the wavelength range 1.5-15 Å. The LCLS construction project includes the complete accelerator systems to produce the radiation as well as experimental infrastructure such as experiment hutches and basic computing facilities. The project scope also includes a comprehensive suite of instrumentation for characterization of the x-ray beam and for early experiments in atomic, molecular, and optical physics. A broad call for proposals (letters of intent) was distributed in April as the first step in the process of defining the initial scientific program of the LCLS. Proposals, due by June 21, will be reviewed by the LCLS Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) and teams will be formed for the development of full proposals for the detailed R&D, engineering and construction of LCLS experimental stations and associated science programs. Keith encouraged the SSRLUOEC to support the LCLS project and to help in disseminating information on the call for proposals.
  • In response to questions about LCLS beyond its initial phase, Keith anticipates that large collaborations would initially work on very complex problems and later transition to general users.
  • Tom Rabedeau reviewed the changes to the radiation physics and radiation safety approval process that has led to some delays to bringing up the beam lines. To date, user operations have resumed on BL9-3, BL9-1,9-2,5-4,10-2,10-1,6-2,11-1,11-2, 11-3,7-2, 2-3 and 2-1. Estimates of other beam lines to open for 2004 user run, include: BL8-2 the week of May 14; BL8-1 the week of May 21; BL4-2 the week of May 28; and BL1-4, 1-5, 7-1, 3-1 later in June or July. Requirements for BL3-3 may make it difficult to open this beam line during the 2004 user run. As beam lines are opened over the next several weeks, brief periods of no beam will be required to access SPEAR and remove the locks from the injection stoppers as soon as operation of each beam line is approved by Radiation Physics. The beam lines may also require special SPEAR operating conditions, mainly in the form of lower currents (~25-50 mA) for initial vacuum outgassing which may last for a few hours. Tom also reported on progress towards the new beam lines being developed, BL12 and BL13.
  • Ben summarized his participation in the SLAC Science Policy Committee (SPC) Meeting, May 7-8. He noted the need for additional support staff and lab facilities, as well as help with user visa and site approval issues. He also suggested that users could benefit from expanded transportation options such as more frequent (every 30 minutes) and longer hours of operation (now stops at 5 pm) for the Stanford Marguerite shuttle. The SPC was overall very supportive of SSRL users' activities, particularly the joint activities with the SLUO such as the public lecture series.
  • Uwe Bergmann reported that he was working on the public lecture series along with SLUO and the SLAC Communications Office. A public lecture will be planned on the last Tuesday of even numbered months (earlier in December). Users are encouraged to participate in the practice sessions and offer suggestions to the speakers. Although the speaker will be required to put some effort into translating technical science into an entertaining talk for the public (eg., preparing engaging non-technical slides, committing to practice sessions, etc.), there is a big payoff in the community wide support that results. Also, the material developed to present at these lectures is the same type of material that can be used when discussing user activities with Congressional representatives, policymakers, reporters and other non-scientific audiences. The lectures to date have been well advertised externally and have been attracting capacity crowds. Future talks will feature Graham George (August 31, 2004) and Jo Stohr (December 14, 2004). Uwe encouraged users to suggest other topics for talks next year. Some suggestions made at the meeting included structural biology using crystallography as a tool and ultrafast science experiments.
  • The importance of user activism was discussed. Ben mentioned that a trip to Washington DC is planned for representatives from the various user facilities (probably in June) to raise awareness about the user science supported by synchrotrons, particularly discussions with policymakers as they are considering future budgets for physical sciences and for synchrotron facilities. Ben has developed and maintains an SSRL user activism website through his home institution: It was suggested that users could assist the SSRLUOEC by sending letters to their representatives using the tools available through the American Physical Society.
  • Following up on the suggestion from the last meeting, Linda Brinen noted that the ability to prepare mailing lists by users' research areas would make targeted messages (such emails about user activism) more likely to reach the intended audience. Cathy Knotts and Piero Pianetta reported that changes to the current database are under development which may make this possible in the near future.
  • A user suggested establishing a young investigator award at SSRL, and the committee supported this idea to recognize exceptional achievements made by investigators within 5 years of receiving their Ph.D. It was noted that an SSRL user and Stanford student, Dr. Alexis Templeton, was the recipient of the 2004 Rosalind Franklin Award from the APS and this may serve as a potential model for an SSRL young investigator award: Additional details need to be worked out, including who the young investigator award would be named after and how it would be funded (would need to sustain an award of $1,000/year).
  • There was a lengthy discussion about the pros and cons of continuing to allow users to request an extension of the fill times (now scheduled 3 times a day at 6 am, 2 pm, and 10 pm). The SSRLUOEC recommends that SSRL discontinue the courtesy option of delaying fills up to 15 minutes that has been extended to users during this transition with SPEAR3. They felt that users could best and most efficiently plan their experiments if fills went on as scheduled. Also, they recommended that the Duty Operator announce the fill on a more regular time frame so they can plan accordingly (e.g., at 60 minutes, 30 minutes, 15 minutes, and as the fill occurs).
  • Users were encouraged users to share short, but specific information on beam time experiences; these anecdotal summaries will be shared with staff and other users through the newsletter, etc. Ben reported double signal to noise on BL10-1; Tim commented on good experiences with BL10-2 and the benefit of short top off fills; Uwe reported 10x more photons than before, factor of 20 increase due to brightness and new optics.
  • Some users are anxious to encourage the capability of continuous scans at SSRL, and they plan to discuss this further with management in the near future. There was also a discussion of modifying the proposal and beam time request forms to ask users to consider highthroughput capabilities, and that shorter amounts of scheduled beam time might be scheduled so that more users could get beam time.
  • In order to increase the general response rate on end-of-run summaries, the SSRLUOEC recommends that more reminders be given to users to complete these surveys. They suggested that user support staff remind users to complete this form when they are checking in or assisting users; that Duty Operators and/or program managers remind users during the 3 pm walkaround; that more signs be posted around the beam lines; and that User Administration investigate sending automated email reminders to everyone a few days before beam time ends.
  • Changes related to radiation safety training and procedures were discussed. SSRL buildings and beam line areas are being monitored for several months of regular user operations with SPEAR3. All of the experimental floor are considered a radiologically controlled area (RCA) while radiation surveys are underway. All users and unescorted visitors in the experimental area must have current GERT training (General Employee Radiation Training) and wear a dosimeter during this period. Users need to make advance arrangements to use 1 of the 4 dedicated terminals for computer based training (CBT) now available in the SSRL user offices. Alternatively, users can forward copies of valid GERT training documentation from other DOE facilities to transfer this training to SLAC.
  • Changes to site access related to foreign visits and assignments were discussed. New DOE rules require that facilities track badged users in the DOE Foreign Access Tracking System (FACTS), and that visits by users from 7 SST countries be pre-approved by the DOE and other government officials before they can be issued a user ID badge for unescorted access to the experimental area. All users must inform SSRL User Administration at least 30 days in advance of all scheduled beam time or planned visits to SSRL so that required documentation can be completed and any necessary approvals sought.
  • Cathy Knotts circulated an email from the White House Office of Science Technology and Policy requesting anecdotal information related to international travel - these need to be sent in by May 12th. These issues are making it increasing difficult for foreign users to travel to and participate in beam time. One former SSRL employee who accepted a faculty position outside of the US just received a visa - after 1-1/2 years of pursuing this. However, even though she now has a visa, her visit has not yet been approved by FACTS, so she remains uncertain about her ability to utilize scheduled beam time and participate in scientific meetings.
  • Users were reminded of the need to keep SSRL informed whenever SSRL related work is prepared for publication and to acknowledge SSRL and funding sources in publications and presentations.
  • It's time to start planning for the 31st Annual Users' Conference on October 21-22, 2004. Draft postcards featuring SPEAR3 photos were circulated for review by the committee; this first mailing post card will be finalized and distributed to users in early June. Users are encouraged to recommend session topics and speakers that are of interest to them. The committee offered several suggestions, including: session on 'changing times at SSRL', what's new with SPEAR3 (eg., new equipment, new optics, faster XAFS), perhaps talks pairing users with staff (Uwe Bergmann was suggested as a potential speaker); more nuts & bolts practical talks, incorporating new technology, helping users making the most of their SPEAR3 beam time (it was suggested that Martin George be asked to give a demonstration of quick scans/comparison with old scans); hands on training with crystallography robotics; and talks by new investigators (graduate students, postdocs).
  • The committee recommended that advisors be asked to encourage students to participate in the meeting - including the dinner. Cathy Knotts reported that there should be sufficient funds to subsidize or waive the cost of the dinner for graduate students who submit posters in order to encourage more students to present posters and so that these students can participate in the poster awards and dinner.
  • Dick Lee reported that VUV FEL should be operating next year at DESY and this could potentially lead to a good topic for a talk or workshop at the annual users' meeting. Also suggested the role of synchrotron radiation users in LCLS (ultrafast spectroscopy, etc.). More active user outreach could help to engage potential users early on, gauge the interest of the community, and generate ideas for new experiments with LCLS.
  • Users are encouraged to recommend session topics, speakers and topics for workshops on October 20th. 3 tentative workshop topics have been suggested so far:

    • Bioimaging (Hodgson)
    • Femtochemistry (Gaffney)
    • Microimaging/Spectroscopy with SPEAR3 (Pianetta/Hedman?)
  • Users were reminded to bring their own Ethernet cables in order to utilize the internet connections at the SLAC Guest House. Alternatively, Ethernet cables are available for purchase at the Guest House Gift Shop.
  • The meeting adjourned at 11:45 am

Cathy Knotts
SSRL Liaison to SSRL Users' Organization Executive Committee

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