Minutes of the Joint APSUO Steering Committee and
Partner User Council Meetings
Argonne National Laboratory
January 12, 2006

Steering Committee Attendees : S. Billinge, K. Brister, M. Capel, J. Cross, M. Firestone, S. Ginell , T. Gog, B. Golden, T. Graber, G. Ice, W. Smith, and C. Thompson.

Partner User Council Attendees : W. Anderson , B. Bunker, J. Chrzas, K. D'Amico, P. Fenter, R. Fischetti, S. Heald, T. Irving, A. Joachimiak, D. Keane, L. Keefe, G. Shen, J. Viccaro, P. Zschack.

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

Other Attendees : R. Pahl, J. Talsma

Routine Business:

The minutes from the November 3, 2006, APSUO Steering Committee Meeting and the November 11, 2005, Partner User Council Meeting, were reviewed and approved as written. The meeting's agenda was approved as well.

APS Update
Murray Gibson reported to the group on the major topics to be discussed in preparation for the upcoming SAC meeting. Topics included the current and future budgets, APS staffing and reorganization effective on March 31 st , the DOE-BES review, and introduction to APS X-ray Scientific Strategic Plan.

The current budget shows $89.8M in Operating, $2.2 in ARIM, and $2.0M in equipment so far. In addition, there is almost $5M effort from LCLS and CNM this year. Current reports indicate that overall effort costs at 85% are too high for FY06 funding. It is hopeful that the FY07 budget is good for science in DOE, especially BES. Advocacy of our users has been effective in this area.

Gibson reported that the next step in the APS reorganization is to offer a voluntary RIF package to all APS divisions except XOR. If necessary, involuntary RIFs will occur after the President's FY07 budget is announced in February.

With regard to the DOE review of the APS, Gibson stated that the results were generally very positive. Comments in the report said that the APS has turned around .... becoming one of the competitive synchrotron facilities in the world, machine operations are a real gem, staff to be congratulated for efforts in turning the facility around, and changes are going in the right direction. Recommendations in the report included the need to set priorities in consultation with SAC and representatives of the user community for the refinement and implementation of the XOR Tactical Plan, to continue to improve the GU access to the APS beamlines, and to establish a strong in-house scientific group with international recognition who can play a leading role in the scientific community, which will require a more competitive approach to hiring new staff. In summary, the reviewers will expect that the research output in the near future will establish APS as the leading facility among the synchrotron sources worldwide.

Gibson reported that APS actions relating to the review include establishing an APS strategic plan with priorities in 3-5 year time frame, restructuring XOR to increase focus on science, planning a retreat with XOR staff to emphasize priorities, discussing a different approach to sector reviews (science-specific reviews rather than sector-specific), and having discussions with the user community, the Partner User Council, and the APS User Organization Steering Committee.

Gibson announced the new members of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). Pierre Wiltzius will be the new chair. The upcoming SAC meeting will include discussion of the DOE review issues, the SRP reviews conducted during the past year, the Partner User Program report, new proposals and letters of intent, and discussions of surface and interface scattering research at the APS with invited participants, and discussions on the APS Strategic Plan. The Cross-cut Review will focus on Polymer Science at the APS. The program will be chaired by P. Thiyagarajan, IPNS.

APS X-ray Scientific Strategic Plan
Gabrielle Long talked about the XOR plan and the strategy for future x-ray capabilities for new research directions. The plan also includes plans for beamlines currently under construction, beamline upgrades, APS and CAT upgrades, accelerator upgrades, along with new insertion devices. New scientific capabilities include picosecond science, high-brilliance soft x-ray beamline for high-energy ARPES and resonant soft-x-ray scattering, BioNanoProbe, and high magnetic fields.

Long reported that thus far XOR has begun a phased approach to a high energy beamline, and an upgrade of 12-ID with optimized beamlines for SAXS and independent surface scattering capabilities. Also in progress is advanced full-field imaging at sector 32. Construction of the 32-ID-C hutch will begin this summer.

APS Scientific Access Policy Changes
Denny Mills informed the group about some upcoming changes to our current scientific access policies (CATs, General Users, National Facility Users and Partner Users). The need for these changes is based on the requiements for a fair and easy access for users, while ensuring that the quality of science remains high and beamtime is being used effectively and efficiently. There are no changes proposed to the Collaborative Access Team member access, to the APS staff access, or the Partner User access.

Mills went on to say that the General User access will now have one type of proposal that will be active for a two-year period or until the PRP-recommended number of shifts has been used. Also, there will be the addition of Project Proposals under GU access. Under the new system, a limited number of General User Proposals may justify reliable, predictable access over several cycles (up to two years) on a specific beamline or several beamlines. These types of proposals are candidates for project status, under which a fixed amount of beam time is guaranteed for more than one cycle. A proposal requesting project status must specify the beamline or beamlines where the work will be performed, justify the need for that location, and justify why the goals of the proposal cannot be achieved effectively or efficiently under a standard General User Proposal. The project proposal candidates will be evaluated by the appropriate PRP. It will then receive additional review by the same subcommittee of the SAC that reviews Partner User Proposals. The subcommittee will use PRP rating, supplemental information provided by the PI, and input from the sector management of the requested beamline(s) as the evaluation criteria. If the subcommittee agrees and the APS concurs with the PRP recommendation, the proposal would be guaranteed the recommended number of shifts for each cycle for up to two years. If the proposal is rejected for project status, it goes back into the GU pool.

Mills said that the updated Scientific Access Policy will be presented at the User Meeting in May 2006. If possible, this new policy will become effective for the 2007-1 cycle, pending adequate MIS support to update proposal forms, the web, scheduling spread sheets, etc.

Lunchtime Presentations
The lunchtime presentations focused on the various Scientific Interest Groups (SIG) that meet periodically at the APS. The presenters and the SIG they represent are as follows:

  • Microtomography SIG, Francesco DeCarlo
  • XAS SIG, Julie Cross
  • Interface Scattering Focus SIG, Paul Zschack
  • High Pressure SIG, Guoyin Shen
  • Liquid and Soft Matter Surface Scattering SIG, Ivan Kuzmenko
  • Macromolecular Crystallography SIG, Steve Ginell
  • SAXS Discussion Group, Pete Jemian

APSUO Steering Committee Executive Session
Carol Thompson called the executive session to order and reminded all members present to send in their advocacy letters, as Congress does look at numbers and the interest shown in various issues.

Tim Graber brought the group up to date on the Operations Directorate Meeting that he attends as a Steering Committee representative. The topics that are typically discussed are safety, accelerator operations for the past week, and any other items of interest at the time.

The group discussed other concerns, such as how the APS reorganization will affect the users, the need for clarification on finding web-based Machine Shop information, and the need for beamline position monitors being looked at further.

As chair of the Nominating Committee for the APSUO, Steve Ginell asked members to send names for possible inclusion on the slate for the election that will be held in May during the Users Meeting.

Gene Ice presented the first draft of the schedule for the Wednesday meeting during the Users Meeting and a listing of possible workshops.

Meg Vigliocco-Hagen presented the draft budget and logistics plan for the Users Meeting.

Millie Firestone will be the chair of the poster committee.

Next User Meeting:

The next APSUO Steering Committee Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 4, 2006, during the 2006 Users Meeting.