Minutes of the APSUO Steering Committee Meeting

Held on April 17, 1997, at Argonne National Laboratory


R. Alkire, A. Archuleta (guest), S. Barr, M. Beno, G. Choate (guest), P. Eng, T. Foley (guest), E. Isaacs, D. Keane, R. Pindak, L. Persson (guest), C. Pittroff, J. Quintana, L. Soderholm, L. Sorensen, M. Sutton, S. Sutton, T. Taylor (guest), and J. Tischler

Routine Business:

Incoming Chair John Tischler introduced newly elected Steering Committee members Celerino Abad-Zapatero, Randy Alkire, Peter Eng, Eric Isaacs, Denis Keane, and George Srajer, then recognized and thanked out-going members, especially Mark Sutton, outgoing Chair. Contents of the meeting packet were reviewed, and the minutes of the January 30, 1997, meeting were approved as written. The result of the advisory opinion poll regarding the preferred frequency of the User meetings was announced: majority opinion preferred to have the meetings held every 18 months. Following a brief discussion, the Committee decided to accept this advice. The Ninth Users Meeting will, thus, be held in September or October of 1998.

Organizational Information:

Susan Barr announced that the APS User Organization web site has been updated to reflect the election of the new members. The web site serves as a resource for information for both Users and Steering Committee members. It includes meeting dates, the by-laws, agendas for the meetings, and minutes. Susan Barr also mentioned a planned electronic newsletter as a tool for disseminating APSUO information. M. Sutton then briefly reviewed responsibilities of the APSUO and Steering Committee as outlined in the by-laws.

Other Business:

Independent Investigator Program: Mark Sutton reviewed the role of the APSUO in the APS Independent Investigator (II) program. The II proposals are submitted to the APS User Office, then forwarded to specific CATs, which review and rate the proposals, and then schedule those proposals that are accepted. The question was raised regarding why the APS has no scientific review boards to review prospective II projects. Susan Barr reiterated that the responsibility of determining the merit and suitability of an II research project lies with the CATs themselves. If, however, the CATs request that the APS appoint review panels, the APS, in conjunction with the APSUO Steering Committee, will do so. The Steering Committee's responsibility is to insure that this approach remains sound and practical. A concern was raised: at other facilities, sometimes independent research slots are filled "internally" by people with close ties to the beamline. M. Sutton indicated that the Program Evaluation Board will use the success of a CAT in filling these slots with true IIs as one measure of CAT effectiveness. (The key to this evaluation is the origin of the "intellectual idea" for an II experiment. If it originates with the CAT, then the II is not a true II.) Additionally, the PEB will look at the success of each CAT in bringing new Users to its beamline.

Birgeneau Committee: M. Sutton indicated that he has been asked to make a presentation to the organizational meeting of this committee (May 9-10, 1997, at MIT) and solicited input from the Steering Committee on the content of his presentation. He indicated that this committee is being asked to address the future of synchrotron research in this country in a broad sense. They will conduct site visits to the four DOE synchrotron facilities, look at expected User demand, look at future capabilities, and examine the role played by the DOE in facility support. The final report summarizing the findings of the committee is expected by September or October of this year. During its site visit, the APS will provide the panel with a summary of User statistics, specific information about the Users, and demonstrate how the Users interact with the APS and the technical community. Thus, M. Sutton's presentation in May need not cover this information.

Consensus was developed that M. Sutton's presentation should focus on broader issues such as the need for R&D in support of Users at User facilities. This led to a discussion of the potential recommendations that could evolve as a result of the findings of the BESAC panel. Mark Sutton made the point that all of the current research facilities have a contribution to make to science: no one facility can realistically be all things to all Users. He again restated the importance of insuring that some amount of R&D continues to take place to pave the way to the future without sacrificing the availability of the facility to the Users.

User Meeting Recap: In general, the Steering Committee was pleased with the Meeting and Workshops. The workshops were especially appreciated. Committee members suggested repeating the "Introduction to the APS" workshop at every User's meeting. A general "Diffraction Controls" workshop was proposed, but the Committee would prefer not to wait until the fall of 1998. Consequently, J. Tischler will suggest at the next APS-CAT Technical Working Group (TWG) meeting that this type of workshop be conducted, perhaps under TWG sponsorship.

Close Out:

No close out session was held.

Next Meeting:

The next meeting of the APSUO Steering Committee will be held on Thursday, August 14, 1997, in Building 401 (APS Central Laboratory/Office Building), Room A5000, beginning at 9:00 a.m.

Action Items:

  1. Establish the 1998 APSUO Steering Committee schedule (S. Barr).
  2. If desired, provide additional input to M. Sutton prior to his presentation to the Birgeneau Committee at its organizational meeting on May 9-10, 1997 (all Steering Committee members).
  3. Suggest a General Diffraction Control workshop at an upcoming TWG meeting (J. Tischler).