Minutes of the APSUO Steering Committee Meeting
Argonne National Laboratory
July 14, 2005 

Steering Committee Attendees: K. Brister, M. Capel, J. Cross, M. Firestone, S. Ginell, T. Gog, B. Golden, T. Graber, G. Ice, M. Rivers, W. Smith, and C. Thompson. D. Reis participated via a conference call.

APS Attendees : M. Beno, J.M. Gibson, G. Long, D. Mills, J. Quintana, S. Strasser, E. Streets, R. Torres, and M. Vigliocco-Hagen.

Routine Business: The minutes from the May 5, 2005, APSUO Steering Committee Meeting were reviewed and approved as written.

The group was asked to review the agenda and suggest any additions if necessary. Steve Ginell requested that the issue of paying for transportation costs for User Meeting speakers be added to the agenda. Ginell also suggested that the NSLS, ALS and SSRL be contacted to see how they handle the transportation costs for the speakers at their meetings. The idea of sponsorships was also discussed. Much success has been gained from sponsorships in the past, and this area will be looked into further for the next User Meeting. More discussion is planned for the next Steering Committee Meeting later this year.

APS Update:
J. Murray Gibson briefed the group on feedback from the recent DOE Review. The review team had positive feedback on the changes that have taken place in the last three years, i.e., beamlines and science. The team felt that the APS has an outstanding machine, good strategic plans, and an appropriate spectrum of accelerator research. Some concern was expressed about anticipating obsolescence. There was encouragement for scientific development of staff, an increase in the number of students coming to the APS, support for optimization of XOR beamlines, and encouragement to continue to engaging the user community and developing an APS-wide plan.

In the area of funding, Gibson reported that the Senate has appropriated +$20M in FY06 to BES for facility operations. The House has appropriated +$19.7M for the same purpose.

Gibson also reported on the APS 2010 initiative that focuses initially on ~15% budget increases to accomplish overlapping projects, such as beamline upgrades, short-pulse option, the detector development, data analysis software, and stability upgrades. Each of these would deliver world-class capabilities, with the XOR tactical plan and the APS five-year scientific vision serving as blueprints. In the longer term, strategic planning is needed for more significant upgrades, including accelerator innovations, with an accelerated timescale and scope compared with the APS 20-year plan.

XOR Tactical Plan:
Gabrielle Long presented an update on the XOR Tactical Plan. Some of the processes for dedicated facilities have already been started using internal funding -- high energy x-ray science on 1-ID and 11-ID, x-ray full-field imaging on 32-ID, and small angle x-ray scattering (SAXS) and USAXS on 12-ID. Long said that additional transitions will be done so that there is never more than six months of interruption in the science being conducted.

Shortpulse :
Denny Mills gave an update on the short-pulse plan that was discussed during the May 2005 User Meeting workshop, "Generation and Use of Short X-ray Pulses at APS." The current thinking is towards a superconducting rf system that would operate continuously (rather than a room temperature pulsed system). The rf group has begun to look into commercially available systems that would meet our needs and work is also continuing to optimize the design of the pulse compression optics. The APS plans to submit this as a white paper to DOE/BES in the near future.

Operations Update:
John Quintana announced that the operating schedule for 2005-3 and 2006-1 runs are now on-line. Some changes in operating modes will be evident. Almost every enhancement to the storage ring involves loss of lifetime, so decreasing the top-up interval is a natural consequence of enhanced operating modes. Hybrid Mode is a single bunch containing 8 mA isolated from the remaining bunches by symmetrical 1.59 microseconds gaps. The remaining current is distributed in 8 groups of 7 consecutive bunches with a maximum current of 12 mA per group and a spacing of 48 nanoseconds between groups. APS changed the top-up interval from two minutes to one minute. A 15-16 mA in the timing bucket has been achieved (and run) with one-minute top-up intervals.

Quintana went on to say that new and existing scientific programs might be enhanced by customized lattice functions. Customized functions are possible in particular geometries. The need for these functions will be dependent upon scientific case. There is an impact on lifetime and emittance.

Quintana also reported that APS is currently revising its LOM Machine Shop Policy to change access procedures to the machine shops. Users will be required to undergo an APS approved training course to be qualified to use the machines . Qualification may be on a per machine basis. Current timing is to have this new policy in effect in August. The APS has contracted with Joliet Junior College (JJC) to develop an assessment program for prospective machine shop users. Assessments will consist of written and hands-on tests tailored to the individual machines and will be administered at the APS by JJC personnel. Prospective shop users will be authorized to use machine tools if they can pass the tests. Training opportunities exist at local junior colleges. APS will maintain a list of resource contacts. JJC is currently working on the assessments and should be available for a test in the next few weeks.

Questions asked from the committee on this policy included whether the training programs from the users home institution would qualify. Quintana said no. Additional discussion ensued regarding the difficulty of this new policy for general users who are not local to the APS.

Quintana informed the group that the APS is looking at changing the next update at notifications to allow a User to go away or sleep when the beam goes down. This would eliminate the need for waiting around for the beam to come back up. Some communications systems that are being considered would allow a user to add/delete themselves to the notification system at will. There is currently a similar system in place that allows the Floor Coordinators to make this change, but the new system would allow the users to do it themselves. Another consideration is to connect the List Serve system to the local paging system that provides storage ring status messages and ring current. Yet another communication system being looked at is to have APS Status Pagers on hand to loan to users. Unfortunately, the Guest House is not equipped to distribute these. Experimenters will need to get them from the APS before going to the Guest House. These systems will be further evaluated and the results of the evaluations will be presented at a later date.

APS Scientific Access :
Denny Mills briefed the group on the APS Scientific Access White Paper Summary. Mills explained that the APS wanted to take a look at all of its scientific access policies (CATs, General Users, National Facility Users and Partner Users) to make sure that as a whole, these access routes covered all of the needs of the various users who come to the APS.

For those beamlines whose operational support comes from non-BES sources, the CATs are required to support General Users for at least 25% of the time beginning one year after the CAT becomes operational. The CAT can allocate the other 75% of the beam time through an internal peer review or through percentage contributions to operations. Oversight of the CAT allocation processes is accomplished through periodic Sector Review Panel meetings.

XOR operational support comes from the APS, with 80% of beam time available for general users (a portion of which may be allocated to partner user proposals) and 20% of the time available to staff members. Effectiveness of the 20% allocation to staff is regularly assessed by the management of the Experimental Facilities Division and by Sector Review Panel meetings. There is currently no proposed change to either the CAT or XOR modes of user access.

Currently, the General User Proposal (GUP) System allows a user to submit an Individual Proposal that is valid for one time or a Program Proposal that is valid for up to two years. These proposals are reviewed and rated by the appropriate Proposal Review Panel and allocated time by a Beamtime Allocation Committee. In reality, allocation is only one cycle at a time. Some concerns about the present GUP system, as noted by the General User Program Evaluation Committee, are that two types of proposals can be confusing and that there is no guarantee of beam time for more than one cycle.

Mills stated that the APS is proposing that there be only one type of proposal that is valid up to two years and is reviewed, rated and given a maximum number of shifts by the appropriate Proposal Review Panel (PRP). The PRP may also select proposals for further consideration as project proposals. The Scientific Advisory Committee and the APS would then evaluate these project proposals. If the SAC and APS concur with the PRP recommendation, the proposal would be guaranteed the recommended number of shifts for each cycle. If the proposal is rejected for project status, it goes back into the GU pool.

Currently, under the Partner User Access system, if a researcher requires guaranteed beam time that cannot be obtained through the General User program and if the proposed research will ultimately benefit the General User community, the user can apply to become a Partner Users on any beamline operated by the APS. The researchers can compete for up to 30% of the total beam time for up to three years by submitting proposals, which are peer-reviewed by a subset of the APS SAC. The PRPs also look at the Partner User Proposals and offer comments. APS management makes the final decisions on the appointment of Partner Users. The most significant aspect for proposal evaluation is the ultimate benefit to the APS General User Community

After much discussion, the committee members were asked to provide comments or suggestions relative to the criteria for proposals that would be given project status before formulating the final policy.

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

  • Eric Dufresne -- Sector 7
  • Alec Sandy -- Sector 8-ID
  • Paul Zschack -- Sectors 33 and 34
  • Julie Cross -- Sector 20
  • Thomas Gog -- Sector 10

Executive Session :
Carol Thompson asked the members to nominate someone from within the group to serve as the APSUO Steering Committee Vice-chair. Three members were nominated. Gene Ice was elected to serve as the Vice-chair. He will now be in charge of the Program Committee for the 2006 Users Meeting.

The Program Committee for the 2006 meeting will be Ice, Ward Smith, Keith Brister, and Thomas Gog.

The Nominating Committee for next year's election of Steering Committee members will be Steve Ginell serving as the Committee Chair, Thomas Gog, Tim Graber, and David Reis.

Millie Firestone will chair the Poster Committee.

The Rosalind Franklin Young Investigator Award will again be presented at the next users meeting. Susan Strasser will send out the criteria for this award to members of the committee.

Further 2006 Users Meeting discussion centered around:

  • Combined Users Meeting with participants from the APS, CNM, IPNS, and EMC.
  • Workshops focusing on other areas; i.e., neutrons, will draw more participants.
  • Keep the Science Meeting generally held on Wednesday afternoon and/or Thursday morning strictly an APS function.
  • If combining with other facilities in a workshop, invite their science person to program planning meetings to plan workshops. Make sure persons are scientifically empowered to make decisions.
  • The lunchtime presentations during the Steering Committee Meeting could nucleate workshops.

The various APS meetings will be represented by APSUO Steering committee members as follows:

  • Monthly Operations Meeting -- Carol Thompson, Julie Cross
  • Weekly Operations Meeting -- Tim Graber and Keith Brister
  • Sector Review Meetings -- Carol Thompson
  • User Data Integration Committee -- Simon Billinge and Keith Brister
  • PRP General Committee -- Thomas Gog, Steve Ginell, and Keith Brister will serve as advisors or contacts

Other items discussed:

  • LOM Machine Shop -- there should be an exclusion of the new rules for simple drilling and sanding.
  • LOM Machine Shop -- there should be a guide or manual readily available in each of the shops.
  • Julie Cross briefed the group on the XAFS school held earlier in the summer.
  • Special Interest Group meeting dates should be on the web.
  • Malcolm Capel will be responsible to check on the accuracy of content on the APSUO web page.

Items for next meeting's agenda:

  • Funding for next Users Meeting -- mechanisms for getting more money to support the meeting.
  • From user office: rough estimates on how much more money would be available for speakers if we cut various amenities in budget reallocations.
  • Are there ways to sponsor events like the XAFS School that would help bring money into the APSUO?
  • Support from industry/company sponsorships (or other ideas for sponsorship).

Next Meeting :
The next APSUO Steering Committee Meeting will be held on Thursday, November 3, 2005, starting at 9:00 am in Building 401, Room A5000.