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SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

SSRLUO Executive Committee Meeting Minutes

Meeting Notes: Friday, October 17, 2008

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Previous SSRLUO Minutes

1. Welcome new members. Election results and the three new members are:

Ben Gilbert, environmental chemist from LBNL, replaces Joy Andrews Beth Wurtzburg, structural biologist from Stanford, replaces Stephane Richard Brittany B. Nelson-Cheeseman, graduate student from UC Berkeley, replaces Jesse Guzman

Welcome new committee members!

2. Nomination for new vice-chair.

Katherine Kantardjieff was nominated to serve as vice-chair. If elected, a new NUFO representative will be needed as Katherine will not have time to fulfill the responsibilities of both positions. Does anyone want to volunteer or suggest someone who may want to be a co-NUFO chair or representative along with Chris Kim?

3. Liquid helium use.

Acting on the frustration communicated by some users who have had to buy a whole 100 L Dewar of liquid He only to find that they can only use half of it, Matthew Latimer and Britt Hedman presented a new policy for charging for liquid He.

  1. Users who want to use LHe must request a cryostat on their X-ray support form. They will be charged per shift for LHe for normal use (~$80). If they use much more LHe than usual, for example by running at very low temperature, they will be charged more.
  2. Users who use the cryostream will be charged more, but the cost per shift is not yet known.
  3. Users who use the SSRL SMB or MEIS cyrostats will not have to order LHe. Others users should continue to order LHe as needed.

This seems to be a great, readily workable solution to the LHe problem. Thank you Matthew and Britt.

4. Open discussion about the users' meeting

The general sense was that the Friday session was poorly attended. In addition, my impression was that the response to the science highlight talks was attentive and polite but not enthusiastic. Part of the problem is that the LCLS user workshops run concurrently with the SSRL users' meeting and some of the audience attended the LCLS workshops rather than the SSRL users' meeting. In addition, I suspect that fraction of the audience interested in any particular field of science presented in the highlights is pretty small. Finally, there was a sense that the users' meeting was too long.

A number of changes were suggested some of which follow (subject to my memory as I did not take very good notes during this part of the meeting).

  • Have the LCLS and SSRL users' meeting on dates further apart (Note that I believe we are constrained to have the SSRL users' meeting somewhat concurrent with the LCLS users' meeting so that the DOE reps only have to come to one meeting.)
  • Make the meeting only one or one and a half days rather than the current two days.
  • Replace the science highlight talks with talks by beamline scientists that illustrate techniques to collect better data (similar to the talks that were given on day one of the users' meeting in 2007).
  • Change the format of the meeting with only the first half of the plenary session day in common for LCLS and SSRL. The only common presentations would then be by the DOE BES rep, the lab and lightsource directors, and Mike Lubell.
  • Make sure that the SSRL users' meeting overlaps only with the LCLS AMO workshop (few users in common).
  • Give the poster awards during the dinner rather than the next day (only 2 of the poster winners were present to get their awards).

5. Open discussion about how to interact with users.

There is some concern that the users are becoming less involved and interested in the operation of the accelerator, and that the emphasis of the users is only collecting data. Jo says that this is an indication that the techniques are becoming mature, so users no longer need to be synchrotron science experts to obtain good data. This maturation makes it somewhat more difficult for the SSRLUOEC to reach out to users, so we may need to explore new methods to reach out to users. In addition, Jo noted that user support for new facilities and initiatives is generally by a few, highly motivated users rather than by the community as a whole.

Last year, Robert tried to use Google groups as a new tool to interact with the users with somewhat mixed results. One new suggestion (from Monika, I believe), is to produce short (< 5 min) video podcasts of new techniques, capabilities, etc. such as the section of Mike Soltis' talk on micro-focus molecular crystallography. A link to the podcast could be included in the monthly newsletter. We could potentially use this to give a brief presentation about what 500 mA operation and/or top-off mode will mean for data collection. I have no idea how difficult it would be to produce one of these podcasts.

6. Open discussion about the user survey

The user survey will go online in January, and I will need to make some changes based on what we have learned in the previous two years. For example, asking the users if they are interested in a particular technique (i.e. STXM, microfocus) may not be useful for the reason noted above: support for new facilities is usually from a small group of highly motivated users. A more meaningful way to get similar information may be to ask "What is limiting your research at SSRL (including beam time)?" "What experiments would you like to do at SSRL that you currently cannot?" or "Is there data that you would like to collect that is not possible to collect at SSRL at the current time?"

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