Minutes of the APSUO Steering Committee Meeting
Argonne National Laboratory
January 13, 2005 

Steering Committee Attendees: K. Brister, M. Capel, J. Cross, S. Durbin , S. Ginell, T. Gog, T. Graber, M. Rivers, W. Smith, and C. Thompson

APS Attendees : R. Fenner, R. Gerig, J.M. Gibson, D. Haugen, G. Long, D. Mills, B. Ruzicka, S. Strasser, E. Streets, R. Torres, and M. Vigliocco-Hagen.

Lunchtime Presenters : E. Dufresne, D. Hausermann, B. Lai, U. Lienert, S. Narayanan, D. Robinson, and G. Srajer.

Routine Business: The minutes from the October 14, 2004, steering committee meeting were reviewed and approved as written.

APS Update:
J. Murray Gibson outlined the FY05 budget. The expected FY 2005 budget for the APS as of February is $97.4M. The best the APS can hope for is a flat budget in FY06. Advocacy will be very important for facility budgets for FY07 and beyond.

Gibson reported on the Inter-agency Working Group Meeting where discussion centered on instrumentation needs, access models, and new opportunities. A compelling case for resource needs (staffing and instrumentation) was presented. The metrics on utilization discussed at the previous APSUO meeting was strongly favored by OSTP/OMB. The partnership role was emphasized by the facilities and the agencies apparently were listening. There was also discussion concerning better coordination or standardization by the structural biology sectors. Overall, it was a very positive meeting and the final outcome should be a valuable and useful report that could provide a possible FY07 initiative and a strong case for increased facility support.

Guidelines for 2005 APS Review:
Gibson outlined the topics for discussion during the May 2005 DOE review of the APS. Those topics may include facility performance, selected presentations of outstanding research, research and development plans, future APS scientific directions, and Argonne plans that may affect the APS. A letter further outlining the facility requirements for the review is forthcoming. Additional review materials include the requirement to identify 20 of the best papers in the past three years, along with citations; to provide a list of invited talks and awards in the last three years; and to capture all 2001-2004 papers, including refereed conference proceedings. The review agenda will include beamline tours and private meetings with users, namely, the APSUO Steering Committee, the Partner User Council; APS staff members, and Scientific Advisory Committee members. A working agenda will be developed early in February. The review is scheduled for May 23--25, 2005, with two full days for the review itself and a closeout session on the third day.

APS Scientific Strategic Plan:
Gibson reviewed the APS Scientific Strategic Plan with the group. The plan covers a 5--10 year time frame and is based on the Future Scientific Directions for the APS study and workshops. A draft of the plan will be discussed with the SAC when it meets in late January. The plan addresses priorities for new and improved beamlines and fleshes out Phases I and II of the APS 20-year plan previously submitted to DOE.

The plan includes several major new instrumentation initiatives and enhanced scientific capabilities. They include shorter pulse capabilities from the storage ring, long beamline for full-field imaging to facilitate growth of the user community, new facilities for magnetism research, high magnetic field facility at APS, dedicated high-energy x-ray capabilities, improved soft x-ray capabilities, bio-nanoprobe, inelastic x-ray scattering, and dedicated micro-focusing station for structural biology. Gibson reported that Denny Mills is leading a task force that has studied the shorter pulse capabilities. The results of that study will be presented next week. While resources are not available to make most of these happen right now, the need to develop a scientific case for additional resources is evident.

The plan also provides for outreach to new user communities, establishes advisory committees by technique or science, and encourages and supports research on enabling fields; e.g., radiation damage, optics, etc. APS liaisons will interact with the outside community to develop technical plans for each new piece of instrumentation.

An effort will be made to encourage letters of intent and to stimulate compelling proposals to APS and appropriate funding agencies to promote partnerships. Existing XOR sector resources will be examined to provide further dedicated beamlines, and CATs will be engaged in evolving dedicated capabilities. New insertion devices will be provided to existing sectors on a competitive basis, beginning first with an upgrade to an XOR sector. This will be the APS matching contribution for new and improved beamlines in the physical sciences. Proposals will be evaluated by the SAC in the context of our APS and XOR strategic plans.

Steering committee member input regarding the plan is encouraged.

XOR Strategic Plan:
Gabrielle Long introduced the draft Strategic Plan for X-Ray Operations and Research (XOR). The plan addresses the need for more dedicated facilities and fewer multi-purpose beamlines, while at the same time supporting the new directions of the APS Strategic Plan detailed by Gibson earlier. The plan will be presented to the SAC in late January. Comments or concerns relative to the dedicated beamlines are welcome. Contact Long or Mark Beno to express those concerns. More discussion will take place prior to the 2005 Users Meeting in May 2005.

Partner User Proposal System Review:
Dennis Mills reviewed the current Partner User Program and its objectives. From June 2003 to the present, over 30 Partner User Proposals (PUPs) have been submitted, 18 of which have been approved for beam time.

Mills added that a White Paper has been developed by the APS that summarizes the Partner User Program and will be discussed and reviewed by the SAC when it meets in late January. The issues that will be reviewed are whether or not the combination of our PU/GU model offers the spectrum of access to beam time needed for the APS to flourish scientifically and if there are specific recommendations to improve and strengthen the present Partner User Program.

Input to the SAC on this initiative can be made to APS Management or through the APSUO Chair, Mark Rivers.

GUPEC Preliminary Report:
Keith Brister briefed the group on the General User Program Evaluation Committee preliminary report. Major responses and recommendations from the committee include having only one type of proposal which expires after one year or after a given amount of time (specified by the Proposal Review Panel) has been received. Another recommendation is that by adding a safety tab to the proposal submission page, the APS would be putting the user on notice that safety is taken very seriously and that potential problems could be flagged. Also, by integrating the APS databases and improving APS/beamline data flow, the user experience would be greatly improved and would allow beamline personnel to concentrate more on specific problems. Based upon survey responses, proposal reviewers wish to continue receiving paper copies of the proposals. Brister will brief the SAC on this preliminary report when it meets in late January.

 Advocacy Issues:
Mark Rivers introduced the possibility of sending a letter to the directors of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) asking for financial support regarding the FY07 budget. Steve Durbin will draft a letter and send it out to all Steering Committee members for review. A visit to Congress in the spring of 2005 was also discussed as a possibility and will be discussed further.

Working Lunch/Sector Presentations:
The following CAT representatives made brief sector status reports:

  • Daniel Hausermann -- Sector 16
  • Tim Graber -- Sector 15
  • Suresh Narayanan -- Sector 8
  • Eric Dufresne -- Sector 7
  • Doug Robinson -- Sector 6
  • George Srajer -- Sector 4
  • Barry Lai -- Sector 2
  • Ulrich Lienert -- Sector 1

Executive Session:
Carol Thompson outlined the 2005 User Meeting agenda with the Steering Committee. The workshops' subjects and chairmen are in place and speakers are now being invited.

Thompson will invite Patricia Dehmer and possibly Dennis Hastert to speak at the Wednesday morning portion of the meeting. Additional speakers for that meeting, as well as the science meeting are needed (possibly an individual from industry). Steering Committee members were asked to supply suggestions for additional speakers to Thompson.

The nominating committee, chaired by Julie Cross, has come up with names for possible inclusion on the ballot for the next election. Committee members were asked to send additional names of possible candidates to Cross.

The draft 2005 User Meeting budget was reviewed and discussed by the group.

Action Items:

  • Provide input regarding the APS Strategic Plan to Mark Rivers.
  • Contact Gabrielle Long or Mark Beno to provide comments on XOR Strategic Plan.
  • Provide Input for the SAC on the Partner User Proposal program to APS Management or through the APSUO Chair, Mark Rivers.
  • Supply names of additional speakers for User Meeting to Carol Thompson.
  • Send names of possible Steering Committee candidates to Julie Cross.

Next Meeting:
The next APSUO Steering Committee Meeting will be held on Thursday, May 5, 2005 in conjunction with the 2005 Users Meeting. (NOTE: It may be necessary to call a special meeting prior to the 2005 Users Meeting to discuss issues pertaining to the 2005 DOE Review of the APS scheduled for May 23.)