SSRL USERS’ ORGANIZATION
Chris Kim, SSRLUOEC Chair, welcomed the meeting participants and began the meeting by announcing and introducing the newly elected members to the SSRL Users' Organization Executive Committee (SSRLUOEC): Wayne Lukens (LBNL), Art Nelson (LLNL), Monika Sommerhalter (CSU East Bay) and ), and Karen McFarlane Holman (Willamette University), Becky Fenn (Stanford University) who were not able to attend.
User Input Encouraged: User Input Encouraged: Jo Stöhr asked users to help brainstorm ways to more actively encourage user input into SSRL's strategic planning process. Following up on his formal presentation during the annual meeting, Jo reported on several future developments being considered at SSRL as well as the resources needed to support these programs (e.g., molecular and environmental interface science, small angle scattering for materials, high pressure spectroscopy, non resonant raman scattering, and new equipment such as additional multi-element detectors and advanced software). Jo specifically asked users, "What are the highest priorities for users?"
There is significant user demand with several beam lines experiencing 200-300% oversubscription during the past year. Several users expressed a desire to have shorter but more frequent allocations of beam time (particularly on macromolecular crystallography beam lines). Users commented on the tradition of outstanding user support at SSRL, but also noted the need for more beam line scientific and technical support staff to help users more effectively utilize their valuable beam time. Some users requested new lab equipment and lab space, such as a chemistry lab for catalysis experiments. A survey will be developed to encourage input from the wider user community.
SSRLUOEC members requested web interfaces to submit proposals, request beam time, and view the schedule of allocated beam time. They also requested the ability to access the user administration database to segregate the SSRL user community by scientific discipline or technique so that they could direct email communications related to specific user communities. It was noted that this would help user representatives to establish and maintain better contact with their constituent groups (primarily for planning, communications, and user advocacy purposes).
Jo also mentioned that the SSRL scientific advisory committee would meet in February and that user input into the strategic planning would be incorporated into the SAC discussions.
500 mA/Top Off Update: Jo, Bob Hettel and James Safranek discussed plans for 500 mA operation and top off injection at SPEAR3. Some of the documentation, reviews and approvals needed to move forward were discussed. Assuming everything progresses as anticipated, it is expected that staff will be able to begin higher current and/or top off tests at some beam lines in the Spring, and there may be some opportunities for preliminary user tests related to either 500mA or top off in the last scheduling period of 2007. Staff plan to look at top off issues (timing and frequency) and to work with users to try different things at different beam lines to understand the optimal top off interval for user experiments. Joy Andrews volunteered to provide samples for timing tests.
At present, if higher current operations were scheduled, some beam lines (e.g., BL4-2) would not be able to operate because they are not yet ready for higher current. Due to resource limitations, the SPEAR3 beam line upgrades have been phased in over the last several years. The last phase of the beam line upgrade plan to make all beam lines compatible and ready for 500mA operations is scheduled to take place during the 2007 summer shutdown; at that time, BL4-1, 4-2, and 4-3 will be upgraded and they will also move to a new location past BL11 in the new building 130. Updates towards 500 mA operations and top off injection will continue to be provided at future meetings to keep users informed and engaged in this process.
Undergraduate Research: Karen Holman was not able to attend this meeting, but she sent a note to the committee to begin a discussion about undergraduates at SSRL. The goals would be to encourage new users to conduct experiments at SSRL and to include more undergraduates on the beam lines working with senior scientists. This increase in numbers could most likely happen through: 1) encouraging faculty with graduate programs to bring undergrads along, and 2) encouraging faculty at PUIs to do work at SSRL. Incentives could be useful in encouraging undergraduate research (e.g., extra shifts, travel support). Among other things, this would require focus on user and undergraduate outreach.
Next meeting: To be determined.