Minutes of the APSUO Steering Committee Meeting

Held on January 22, 1999, at Argonne National Laboratory


C. Abad-Zapatero, R. Alkire, M. Antonio, D. Chapman, S. Dierker, P. Eng, P. Fenter, S. Heald, E. Isaacs, D. Keane, D. Moncton (APS Update and Close Out only), C. Pittroff, G. Shenoy (APS Update and Close Out only), G. Srajer, S. Strasser, J. Tischler (ex officio), and P. Zschack

A joint APS Update session of the Research Directorate and the APSUO Steering Committee meetings was held.

Joint Session Report:

APS Update: Moncton indicated that the fill-on-fill with open shutters tests are scheduled to begin January 26. Future tests related to top-off mode will be conducted during machine studies time. The APS implemented a considerable number of improvement items during the December shutdown period, including an alignment process proposed by Glenn Decker aimed at reducing background signals from ID x-ray beam position monitors (see summary under Discussion Items). If successful, this protocol would make the APS the first third-generation facility to use undulator radiation to provide feed back to the storage ring.

In mid-December, the DOE conducted rigorous safety inspections at the APS facility. The reports resulting from the inspection were unexpectedly adversarial in nature. As the APS has traditionally been considered an exemplary facility in the realm of safety, regaining this reputation is important. General housekeeping was cited as an area of concern throughout all APS areas. The staff and researchers are, thus, being asked to set a new standard in orderliness. Moncton reviewed the circumstances of a variety of OSHA-related safety items found during the inspections that would be more accurately characterized as "best practices" issues rather than actual violations. He noted that SRI-CAT is setting a good example to follow in terms of responding to the results of the December inspections.

No details are available yet on the President's budget for FY 2000. With respect to BES facilities, it is anticipated that inflation-level increases will be received.

Moncton then reviewed recent new additions to the CAT community, including COM-CAT, sector 4 at SRI-CAT, and HP-CAT (which recently had its proposal approved). Moncton briefly discussed COM-CAT's proposed "partner approach" to handle the client base. A number of proposals from potential CATs are in the works and three letters of intent are expected soon. Two locations on the ring that do not have planned LOM space are being considered for a biology/structural genomics center and a material science center. One LOM is being planned to accommodate the new wave of biology-related CATs (NE-CAT, SER-CAT). There is potential for NIH financial support for this LOM and a possible NIH-funded sector.

Moncton reviewed the deliberations of the Panel on Novel Coherent Light Sources, a BESAC-sponsored meeting held the week of January 18. Among the topics covered was a possible facility based on self-amplified spontaneous emission (SASE), a high-energy linac capable of supporting multiple beamlines and using the full range of x-ray energies. Moncton reviewed the properties of a SASE-based facility, including dramatically higher peak brilliance, full transverse coherence, and high photon degeneracy (1010 vs. 10-2 at the APS). Moncton discussed various methodologies and techniques that would be possible at a fourth-generation facility due to the quantitative improvements attributable to the higher photon degeneracy. The conclusions reached by the panel included cautious optimism about achieving a 1Å free-electron laser, recommendations for two years of R&D funding, and support for the construction of the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) project (see below).

Moncton also reviewed the APS LEUTL R&D project, stating that the goal is to study the SASE process and to pursue the demonstration of experiments not currently possible at existing sources. He also reviewed the LCLS proposal at Stanford, which would use their linac to produce 15 GeV particles. The project would have compelling characteristics in a shorter wavelength range, especially in terms of peak brilliance, and would be comparable to a fourth-generation source in terms of pulse length. Stanford has asked the APS to collaborate on the design, construction, and diagnostic work on the long undulator required for the project. Various aspects of the project were discussed in detail. Moncton also discussed the technical advantages to be gained from the involvement of the laser community in the project.

Proposed review process for Independent Investigator (II) proposals: Gopal Shenoy reviewed the originally proposed process for review of II proposals in which CATs are completely responsible for evaluation of proposals and allocation of beamtime. A number of CATs have expressed concern about establishing and managing this type of review process. As a result, the APS has developed an option in which the APS User Office would receive and classify each II proposal and obtain independent scientific reviews. A one-month turnaround time is anticipated for this process. A complete proposal package, including reviews, would then be distributed to the CATs. CAT groups (divided by science area) would then rate the proposal packages and allocate appropriately. Experiment safety reviews would still take place at the beamline on which the experiment was conducted. CATs would be free to select whichever proposal-handling method they prefer. A thorough discussion will be scheduled for the next RD meeting.

Web-based publications database: Susan Picologlou introduced the new (Oracle) Web-based database for collecting and searching APS user publication citations. CATs will be responsible for entering their own citations for published work conducted at the APS. Picologlou reviewed the various search options and demonstrated both the search and entry functions. Entries made from off site will go into a holding area pending review by APS editors prior to entry into the database. The database will be used to generate publication listings for PEB reviews.

National Synchrotron and Neutron School: Denny Mills discussed the National School on Neutron and X-ray Scattering, which will be held at Argonne this year, August 16-27, 1999. The school, supported by the DOE, is intended to educate young graduate students in the use of neutron and x-ray facilities; this year's course will focus specifically on material science. Mills reviewed the proposed curriculum, which will consist of tutorial lectures during the first week and labs and current-topics lectures during the second week. Funds are available to provide full local support for 30 students (travel expenses will be considered on a case-by-case basis). It is hoped that this will be the first in a series of schools. More information on this topic can be found at http://www.dep.anl.gov/Neutron/. Mills also discussed the U.S. Particle Accelerator School, which carries graduate-level credit. More information can be found at http://uspas.fnal.gov/.

Routine Business:

The minutes of the October 14, 1998 meeting were approved. The action item was dealt with as the first order of business for the executive session.

Executive Session:

Election of a vice chair: Steve Dierker opened the session by reviewing the primary responsibilities of the APSUO vice chair (e.g., plan the technical program for the next user meeting and succeed as chair of the committee). After nominations were taken, Eric Isaacs was elected to be the vice chair.

Ninth Users Meeting recap and preliminary discussion of Tenth Users Meeting: Dierker reviewed the APS Ninth Users Meeting and opened the floor for comments and ideas from the group. A common theme throughout all of the comments was the concept of making all activities '"higher profile" to draw more interest in attending the meeting.

Workshops: In general, the group felt there were no problems encountered with the scheduling of the workshops, which was designed to minimize overlap. It was felt that anywhere from four to six workshops (depending on ratio of half- to full-day sessions) should be planned for the Tenth Users Meeting in April 2000.

Poster Session: The student poster prize was well-liked and the committee agreed that the student prize aspect of the poster session should be expanded (possibly to two or three student prizes) for the next users' meeting. Additionally, a larger space should be found in which to hold the next meeting's poster session. It was noted that the student prize had a fairly low profile at the meeting. It was suggested that the award(s) be presented in a more elaborate fashion, perhaps with photos or a display of the winning posters set up in the conference center lobby. Since a larger number of posters are expected at the next meeting, it was suggested that contest entries be divided by scientific discipline and assigned to multiple reviewers for evaluation. The amount of the award may also be increased for upcoming meetings.

General user science talks: The group felt that the eight talks were all pitched at a good level of detail for the audience. Some concerns about attendance were raised because the main floor area appeared to be only sparsely populated, but it was noted that the balcony area was quite full throughout the various talks. More information about the speakers should be included in first announcement.

General meeting comments: It was noted that the opening session of the meeting appeared to have low attendance. Suggestions for preventing this at future meetings included closing off the balcony, starting the meeting a little later in the morning, and having some workshops on the day preceding the meeting itself. The group also discussed finding a very interesting keynote speaker to serve as a "headline."

Compton award: It was suggested that the winners of the award be announced prior to the start of the meeting, perhaps as early as the mailing of the registration materials to raise interest in the meeting.

APS Operations Schedule: Some complaints have been received regarding scheduling of beamtime, in particular, a concern that machine studies time is scheduled on weekdays rather than weekends. It was agreed that machine maintenance work must be conducted during the week. Studies time, however, could be possibly be scheduled for weekends. Some committee members noted that they have never heard any complaints regarding the scheduling of studies time. CAT to CAT variations in user scheduling and experiment cycles makes it difficult to resolve an issue such as this to the satisfaction of all. The biggest impact of this is felt by the local CAT staff; users are grateful for any beam they can get. It was reiterated that the most important concern is to deliver usable beam to the user population.

Although the committee recognized that the operations schedule is presented to CAT management at the Research Directorate meetings, it was noted that the schedule is prepared essentially without any user representation from the experiment hall floor. Much discussion ensued. It was determined that the committee is not familiar with the parameters and considerations that drive the scheduling process. Dierker suggested that the APSUO request a presentation from the APS at its next Steering Committee meeting to familiarize the committee with the process of developing a schedule before the committee makes any statements or recommendations. Additionally, each steering committee member should talk to fellow users to determine what the views and opinions are out on the floor, summarize findings, and submit them to Connie Pittroff before the next APSUO Steering Committee meeting.

Best of the APS award: Dierker reviewed the origin of the suggestion to collect user-written abstracts highlighting the "best work" accomplished over the previous year to be submitted for an award at the user-meeting. After some discussion, the group agreed that such an activity would detract from both the student poster competition and the Compton award.

Report on presentation to National Research Council Committee: Dierker reported on the presentations made to the NRC Materials Facility Committee. The NIH is interested in establishing a national-level scheduling committee to manage beamtime allocation at various user facilities. The committee is trying to determine if a national scheduling system is worth considering and if there is a way to increase the amount of beam time available at the various facilities. Representatives from the DOE and different synchrotron facilities (including users) presented talks. The user community supported the current system of beam time allotment, indicating that if anything, the solution is to increase the amount of beamtime available and increase support to the facilities. The initial report will be distributed in spring.

APS Doctoral Fellowship program: Dierker indicated that he wished to be removed from the original group charged to investigate industrial funding for the program. Dean Chapman has now joined Eric Isaacs and Peter Eng to look into possible funding sources. Dierker reviewed the purpose of the program, reiterating that at this point it is still in its most preliminary stages. Consistency of funding over time was raised as a concern. The group discussed how different funding scenarios might/might not fit the intended purpose of the fellowship program. It was determined that the funding subgroup will begin by checking the DOE and Higher Education Cooperation Act for funding options.

General: The group concurred that the separate meetings format is preferred

Next Meeting:

The next meeting of the APSUO Steering Committee will be held Thursday, April 15, 1999.

Action Items:

  1. Begin thinking about workshop topics for the Tenth Users Meeting and give ideas to E. Isaacs (All Steering Committee members)
  2. Request a presentation to be given at the next APSUO meeting to inform the committee about the parameters and considerations that are involved in developing the operations schedule (S. Dierker)
  3. Talk to fellow users to assess views and opinions on the experiment hall floor regarding the operations schedule. Summarize findings and submit to C. Pittroff (who will forward the combined reports to S. Dierker for discussion at the next meeting (All Steering Committee members)
  4. Investigate potential funding avenues for the APS Doctoral Fellowship program (D. Chapman, P. Eng, and E. Isaacs)
  5. Determine if there are programs at other facilities similar to the proposed APS Doctoral Fellowship program that could be emulated (All Steering Committee members)
  6. Distribute copies of Bill McDowell's network security overheads to the steering committee (C. Pittroff)
  7. Request that floor coordinators wear their APS photo ID badges while on the experiment hall floor (S. Strasser)
  8. Provide specific information about recent computer security breaches to the steering committee (the APS)
  9. Determine if early announcement of the Compton award winners is feasible for the next user meeting's registration materials (Discuss at Close Out)