Minutes of the APSUO Steering Committee Meeting

Held on March 16, 2000, at Argonne National Laboratory


R. Alkire, M. Antonio, S. Dierker, P. Eng, P. Fenter, S. Heald, E. Isaacs, D. Keane, D. Mills (APS Update and Close Out only), C. Pittroff, W. Schildkamp, G. Shenoy (APS Update and Close Out only), G. Srajer, S. Strasser, and P. Zschack

Routine Business:

Minutes of the January 13, 2000, meeting were approved, and the action items were reviewed.

APS Update and Reports:

APS Update: Gopal Shenoy briefly discussed the recent PEB meeting (held February 16-18, 2000), noting that reports are expected back shortly. Shenoy also reviewed the current status of potential new CATs. Three of them (SGX, or Structural Genomics; NE, or Northeastern; and GM/CA, or Institute of General Medicinal Sciences/National Cancer Institute CATs) have approved scientific proposals but have not do not yet have signed MOUs. Two more letters of intent have also been received and approved; proposals are now expected from IXS, or Inelastic X-ray Scattering and MB, or Molecular Biology CATs. Other future initiatives for APS may include specialized beamlines for research facilities dedicated to structural genomics and combinatorial materials.

Shenoy reviewed statistical data, including a summary of scheduled and delivered beam time from 1996 to present. Machine availability achieved in 1999 was greater than 95%. The user community has also grown dramatically since 1996 and now includes more than 2000 badged users. In 1999, more than 120 publications were submitted to the publications database; several of these papers were accepted by prestigious journals.

Detailed current and fill data from the recent top-up mode test were presented. APS staff went around the ring to gather first-hand input from the user community about the impact of top-up on user experiments; it was observed that beam stability was quite good during the test. The group discussed various technical aspects of top-up operations.

Shenoy noted that the TWG meeting topic today was the proposed movement of the bending magnet beamlines. The lattice shift has been studied and evaluated: a symmetrical configuration has been shown to be operationally transparent, and an asymmetrical configuration is also expected to have no impact on operations. An update on the potential impacts to beamlines will be presented at a future meeting.

Funding from the DOE is being provided to the various organizations involved in studying the self-amplified spontaneous emission (SASE) process. The APS has been charged with evaluating SASE in the visible region and the UV region. Shenoy showed recent results of evidence of the SASE process obtained at 530 nm. He noted that the Tesla test facility at DESY has also demonstrated similar results at 120 nm.

Planning and development of a fourth-generation test facility based on the existing LCLS linac continues. Shenoy reviewed the participating institutions, major activities, and time frame for the project.

The FY 2001 congressional budget request is very positive and includes increases in funding in almost every area. Shenoy reviewed the major facilities/scientific programs and funding in the BES 2001 budget. There is a nearly global trend of increased funding; the APS is currently slated with nearly a 10% increase. The synchrotron community needs to show support for the President's budget before it goes through Congress this fall.

Construction on LOM 436 is expected to start this summer. The preliminary work (e.g., environmental assessment) is already underway. This will be funded by the NIH and DOE. Construction will also begin on a new facility designed to receive radioactive materials at the APS. The facility will be in a new pentagon area connected to LOM 431 (431Z).

Joint efforts of synchrotron user organization chairs: Steve Dierker reminded the group that past letter writing campaigns to express support for budget initiatives critical to the synchrotron user community at large haven't always been sufficient. The current favorable atmosphere in Washington for science funding has spurred a general feeling among the synchrotron user group chairs that getting involved early in the budget review process could prove to be beneficial. It is the current activities in Congress that will determine how the President's budget will fare in the fall. A draft letter to the Energy and Water Subcommittees (including all contact information) was included in the meeting packet. A call for letters of support will be sent to the user community via e-mail. Dierker strongly urged the group to stir up participation in this effort. Additionally, the chairs of the users organizations are planning to visit Washington and hope that these in-person visits will become an ongoing activity. The group discussed the importance of establishing a memo for political involvement in supporting the advancement of science. Argonne is providing assistance in preparing the content of the presentations. Copies of the "talking points" will be made available to the steering committee in the event steering committee members or people they contact wish to visit their local representatives.

Executive Session:

Tenth Users Meeting planning: Program and workshops, registration packets, and vendors: The content of the registration booklet was reviewed with an emphasis on the workshops and the Festschrift for Sunny Sinha. One suggestion to minimize overlap of activities was to decrease the lunch period on Tuesday by one-half hour, start Workshop 4 one-half hour earlier (1:00 p.m.), and push back the start of the Festschrift by one-half hour (to 3:00 p.m.). The Festschrift would then end at 6:00 p.m. These possible time changes will be discussed at Close Out. Wilfried Schildkamp will be sent an e-mail once the timetable for this portion of the meeting is set.

Susan Strasser briefly reviewed the evolution of the meeting banquet and changes in DOE conference regulations. The Users Meeting has been grandfathered under conference regulations in effect when meeting planning began in 1999. The only remaining significant difference between the upcoming meeting and past meetings is that ANL employees will have to be purchase lunch tickets for $5 each out-of-pocket (the rest of the cost per lunch is covered by the meeting budget).

Connie Pittroff reported that 28 vendors were currently registered to exhibit with a few more companies considering attending. Due to the heavy response for vendor space, additional table slots have been approved (located at the top of the stairs behind the auditorium). Vendors have also been successfully solicited for sponsorship of meeting activities (e.g., sky shows and the reception at the Planetarium).

Money for three $200 student poster prizes has been set aside. Three people are needed for the review committee that will select poster prize winners. The group suggested Ian Robinson, George Srajer, and Tom Irving as potential committee members. (Note: All of these individuals have agreed to serve.) Abstracts of all entries into the poster competition will have to be distributed to the committee in advance. It was decided that S. Dierker will give a brief biography and statement about the poster for each winner when the winners are announced.

APS Graduate Research Fellowship program: All of the modifications previously suggested for the application and related forms for the Graduate Fellowship Program were made. It was noted that it may be difficult in some cases to obtain the signature of a graduate school's dean. Additionally, the forms need to clearly indicate that no benefits are being provided to recipients.

The group discussed at length the pros and cons of accepting funding for the fellowship program that has "strings" attached to it. The XCITE group has offered $90K from their HECA (Higher Education Cooperation Act) funds. The recipient, however, must be either an Illinois resident or attending an Illinois university. It was decided that it is reasonable to start off with the HECA funds to initiate the program with one fellowship (abiding by the requirements attached to the funds). The exact definitions of what would constitute Illinois residency or attendance at an Illinois university need to be clarified. It was suggested that the deadline for applications for the first award only be set for June 15, 2000. The fellowship information will be amended to say that nominally up to three years of support can be reapplied for per fellowship (instead of four years).

Other funding possibilities exist for future fellowships, and more funding needs to be pursued. There is the potential for more funds through ANL's Department of Educational Programs (DEP) to support students at both the APS and IPNS. Eric Isaacs and Susan Strasser will meet to discuss pursuing other potential contributions from NIH, NSF, and Lucent. Strasser will work with David Williams to prepare a proposal for an additional $90K in funding for either a minority or female fellowship awardee.

A review panel of three to five members must be established to evaluate applications. Harold Myron (DEP) has asked to be included in the panel. A list of suggested members for the review panel will be presented for consideration at the next APSUO SC meeting (May 4, 2000). Full review of all received applications for the inaugural fellowship should be completed by July 12, 2000, APSUO SC meeting so that an announcement can be made.

Fellowship application packets can be distributed at the Users Meeting with a cover letter. The description of the fellowship will be carefully reviewed to ensure that the wording is accurate and that it fully discloses the details relevant to the first fellowship being offered. As funding permits, other fellowships will be made available. Each set of applications offered for a given fellowship opportunity will be made distinct, necessitating a complete re-application for persons not selected.

Student progress will be evaluated via an annual review. Annual renewal of a fellowship (up to three years of support) is contingent on satisfactory progress.

Steering Committee election process: The next business meeting will include a vote on adopting electronic, or "e-voting," into the APSUO bylaws for both elections and future changes to the bylaws. Paul Zschack reviewed the proposed format of e-voting, which would include open electronic voting for two weeks before each business meeting. Users would be notified of the start of voting by e-mail. Write-in nominations for steering committee members could be accepted electronically prior to the actual voting period. Some additional bylaws corrections/modifications, which were marked on the draft of the bylaws included in the meeting packet, were discussed.

Close Out: All issues covered in the Executive Session were briefly discussed.

Next Meeting:

The next meeting of the APSUO Steering Committee will be held Thursday, May 4, 2000.