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SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

SSRLUO Executive Committee Meeting Minutes

Meeting Notes: April 17, 2006 10 am - 3 pm

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Previous SSRLUO Minutes

Attendees: Joy Andrews, Michael Brzustowicz, Neil Calder, Lisa Downward, Lisa Dunn, Jesse Guzman, Zsuzsa Hamburger, Britt Hedman, Keith Hodgson, Chris Kim, Cathy Knotts, Richard Lee, Aaron Lindenberg, Greg Madejski, Hendrik Ohldag, Piero Pianetta, Bill Schlotter, Steve Sekula, Abner Souffer, Jo Stöhr, Robert Szilagyi, Glenn Waychunas.

Joy Andrews, SSRLUOEC Chair, welcomed the meeting participants and began the meeting. Notes and action items (in bold) follow.

Keith Hodgson attended the first part of the meeting to acknowledge the very positive feedback from user advocacy activities, such as the recent SNUG meetings in DC.

33nd Annual SSRL Users' Meeting: Chris Kim (Chapman University) and Aaron Lindenberg (SSRL) will co-chair the next Annual SSRL Users' Meeting on October 12-13, 2006. They circulated an outline of the draft program. It was suggested that the opening session could include a talk on the process of information flow in DC and a perspective on how user advocacy impacts this process. Regarding the scientific highlights and young investigators sessions, it was suggested that these talks be limited to 20 minutes, including 5 minutes for discussion. Speakers should be reminded to give a big picture type talk for a very broad audience. Z.X. Shen was suggested as a possible speaker to share a retrospective on Bill Oosterhuis, who was a friend of synchrotron radiation science from its earliest days. Jo Stöhr requested that presentations focus on areas where SSRL is currently involved, or in areas where we plan to have active programs, including full field x-ray, soft x-ray imaging, advanced microscope (K. Luening), state-of-the-art hard x-ray region, tomography, diffraction imaging/speckle (holography-J. Luning), and new opportunities in imaging such as those developed for the Archimedes Palimpsest (U. Bergmann). Additional talks related to ultrafast science could include an LCLS science overview (big picture talk), lenseless imaging (J. Hadju, paper coming out shortly), instrumentation/streak camera, slicing sources, or timing experiments at SPEAR. For the Biology session, several potential topics were suggested: first crystal structure inside microchip, nanotubes (S. Quake, M. Anderson), new MC technology/remote access demonstration, SAXS, spectroscopy (combine simulations, EFT calculations, theoretical calculations).

Suggested topics for joint workshops with the ALS included soft x-ray scattering experiments and user outreach/advocacy. There was a suggestion to host a proposal writing workshop covering the process to get beam time at SSRL and pointers/practice to help new investigators prepare better proposals; before creating a workshop, however, it is necessary to determine 1) if there is sufficient interest in having a workshop (minimum would be ~12 people), 2) what specific elements of the proposal preparation process do people want help with?

Users are encouraged to submit nominations for SSRLUOEC and for several awards:

The plan is to give away long sleeve t-shirts to people who register early for SSRL33; indigo blue was the most popular color.

SSRL User Community/SNUG Advocacy: Jennie Acrivos suggested a letter from the SSRLUOEC to Physics Today recognizing the contributions of Bill Oosterhuis. Glenn Waychunas volunteered to contact Pat Dehmer and to coordinate a draft letter.

Discussion continued on how can each committee member can better interact with their respective user communities; SSRL plans to incorporate the ability to pull mailing lists into the more user friendly web interface tools which are being developed for the user database.

Peer mentoring by experienced users was discussed to assist new users to prepare better proposals and get the most out of their allocated beam time. In order for this to work, users (e.g., SSRLUOEC) would need to commit to an overlap where the new users assist with experiments scheduled under the experienced user proposal, then the experienced user would stay on to help the new user get started. These arrangements would need to made early in the scheduling process so that the respective proposals could be scheduled back-to-back.

SSRLUOEC can suggest additional scientists to be considered by the PRP in reviewing new proposals (provide complete contact information and summary of expertise: materials/chemistry, environmental/geosciences, biospectroscopy/bio SAXS, macromolecular crystallography, ultrafast science)

Regarding the dialogue which began in February, the PRP requests specific recommendations from the SSRLUOEC on how they can better meet the needs of users; discussion items included:

  • Encourage the PRP to give more consideration to the efficient use of beam time in determining a proposal's rating (comparing previous shifts allocated to publications, etc.)
  • Encourage PRP to include a paragraph along with ratings so that users better understand any issues related to their proposal and why a specific rating was assigned.

The Synchrotron and Neutron Users Group (SNUG) visited DC April 9-11, including a briefing lunch with industry. A bank of research highlights will continue to be developed for use in the future. A suggestion was made to ask users who prepare NSF nuggets to forward these for possible inclusion in the bank of user science examples. Another DC trip is tentatively being discussed for October and could include an R&D Caucus or Congressional hearing. Users are encouraged to participate in user advocacy, letter writing campaigns, etc.

SSRL Director's Update: SSRL Director Jo Stöhr discussed plans for increased user support, instrumentation, and software/web interface. Because some beam lines are not ready for 500 mA operations, the plan will likely be to conduct 500 mA tests only during scheduled AP days for the first scheduling period in 2007, with the opportunity to schedule further 500 mA tests for 1-2 weeks at a time later in the run. Upgrades on BL7 are nearing completion, with plans to re-open BL 7-2 and 7-3 for commissioning in several weeks, to be followed by BL7-1 later this summer. High on the future priority list are plans to upgrade equipment on beam line end stations, including computers and software for a more unifying platform-independent system. The new SSRL Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) will meet in July to review new beam lines, including the goal for 2 new superconducting insertion device lines.

There was a discussion of fill patterns, some users requested reducing fills from 3 to 2 times a day. Although a few users who conduct long running scans expressed interest in reducing the number of fills, it was not clear if there was a consensus on whether this worked best for the majority of users, or for the facility (optics, etc.).

Outreach, Communications, User Administration: Cathy Knotts made several announcements, including:

  • User feedback on the end of run summaries is appreciated after each user experiment A report of the end of run summaries from 2005 to March 2006 was distributed.
  • 2006 run ends August 7th
  • Call for new proposals (Xray/VUV due May 1, 2006; MC due July 1, 2006,); proposals submitted by these dates will be eligible for beam time in the Fall 2006)
  • SLAC public lecture series is held every other month on the third or fourth Tuesday evening in Panofsky Auditorium. Next Talk, April 25th (suggestions for other topics or speakers?)
    • April 25, 2006 Space: The Hunt for Hidden Dimensions, JoAnne Hewett (SLAC)
    • June 27, 2006: Whispers of the Big Bang, Sarah Church (Stanford University)
    • August 29, 2006: A Comet on Earth: Results from the Stardust Mission, Sean Brennan (SSRL, SLAC)
    • October 24, 2006 The Violent Universe, Eduardo do Couto e Silva (SLAC)
    • December 12, 2006: Dance of the Molecules: The World's Fastest Movie, Kelly Gaffney (SSRL, SLAC)
  • Please alert us whenever research is about to be published archive/2005_archive.html - these scientific highlights are particularly helpful when preparing for reports, meetings, trips to DC, etc.
  • SR News available by email by signing up with

SLUO Update: Abner Souffer and several representatives of the SLAC Users' Organization (SLUO) participated in this meeting to discuss a joint workshop to better enable scientific users to communicate their research, the importance of the facilities, and the need to support basic sciences in general. This workshop is tentatively scheduled to be held at SLAC on May 26th. Both SSRL and SLUO expressed interest in continuing a dialogue between the two user groups to increase interactions and to coordinate activities such as the upcoming workshop. Lisa Downward volunteered to be the SSRLUOEC liaison with SLUO. SSRL staff and users are asked to help to publicize the May 26th workshop to their colleagues, to scientists at SLAC/SSRL, and to other local scientific users.

The meeting adjourned around 3 pm.

Cathy Knotts
SSRL Liaison to SSRL Users' Organization Executive Committee

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