Minutes of the APSUO Steering Committee Meeting
Argonne National Laboratory
January 17, 2008

APSUO Steering Committee Member in attendance: N. Campobasso, P. Evans, M. Firestone, B. Golden, T. Graber, N, Leyarovska, L. Lurio, and L. Young.

APS Attendees: R. Gerig, J. M. Gibson, G. Long, D. Mills, J. Quintana, B. Ruzicka, S. Strasser, and M. Vigliocco-Hagen.

Executive Session:

Larry Lurio presented a revised meeting schedule and led the discussion on the status of User Week 2008 preparation. A list of workshops was presented to the group. It was suggested to add a short-pulse workshop to the user meeting agenda. Linda Young, Paul Evans, and David Reis will put together an abstract for a possible Short-pulse Workshop. This workshop could follow a plenary session science talk on this topic. The February workshop on SPX may not generate enough “critical mass” to build a strong case.

Lurio also reported that Robert Rosner and Patricia Dehmer are confirmed as speakers for the meeting. The group was asked to inform Lurio of any recommendations for speakers for the science sessions.

Susan Strasser told the group about the plans to hold the banquet on Tuesday, May 6 th , at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Bus transportation to and from the event will be provided. The cost will be $50.00 per person.

Strasser also reported that a new play, Picasso Meets Crystallography , will be presented on Sunday, May 4, 2008, as the kick-off event for Users Week 2008. The play illustrates the interconnections between science and art. The author, C. Abad-Zapatero, is an APS User.

Strasser talked about the APSUO Rosalind Franklin Young Investigator Award that recognizes important scientific or technical accomplishments by a young investigator. Nominating packages are being accepted until March 28, 2008. Barbara Golden, Millie Firestone, Simon Mochrie, Tim Graber, and Miles Klein make up the Award Committee.

Nadia Leyarovska volunteered to serve as the chair of the Poster Committee, while Linda Young is the Nominating Committee chair. The group was asked to send suggestions for nominations to Linda.

Routine Business:

The minutes from the October 27, 2007, APSUO Steering Committee Meeting were approved as written.

APS Update -- J. Murray Gibson

Budget news:

Murray Gibson provided an update on various events affecting the APS. Gibson noted that the Omnibus Bill passed in December 2007 created a crisis at all the DOE light sources, but the situation is far worse for other DOE user facilities; e.g., at the Argonne IPNS or Fermilab.

Gibson went on to say that with the flat budget for 2009 predicted, there will need to be a 50-person layoff at the APS. These reductions would occur primarily in the area of engineering support of the machine. The operating hours would have to be reduced by approximately 20% for 2009, making the shutdowns approximately 30% longer. This reduction represents 6 additional weeks of shutdown: one week at the beginning and end of each shutdown period. A proposal to remove 2 weeks from each end of the 2008-2 run has been made. Decisions on modes of operation during the runs would have to be made. Gibson asked that the APSUO and PUC bring recommendations to the Operations Directorate relative to the modes of operation. Supplemental funding of $150M is a possibility. This would be $50M for HEP (ILC) and $100M for fusion reactor. Advocacy should focus on overall hit to science, not to specific programs. Gibson said that a key facet to this situation is the possible damage to industrial users who may go abroad to do their work. The reduced time and decaying capabilities by international standards are important arguments that might support a “light source initiative.”

Review results:

Gibson informed the group that the results from the University of Chicago (UC) Review were extremely positive, but there were some recommendations for improvements. The response to the UC review will be presented at the February Board of Governors meeting. Among the actions taken have been beamline staff career development, a floor coordinator task force, and an aim to recruit a senior PX crystallographer to the APS staff. The newly created Life Sciences Council will provide position description input to the APS.

Gibson said that the oral feedback from the DOE review has been extremely positive on APS science and accelerator performance. The review stated that the APS is efficiently organized, but our financial needs for accelerator and beamline maintenance improvements are great and should be articulated in a prioritized list. Gibson said that this should be done now. As stated in the UC review, the DOE review expressed concern regarding beamline staff career development and workload. The review went on to say that we need more people and resources, but in the absence of resources, we need to scale back our support for operation on the accelerator and beamlines and operate as best we can including routine maintenance and upgrades. Also supported by the reviewers is the need for near-term upgrades to beamlines. Despite the financial problems, there may be an opportunity in the near term for some significant investment in this area. This is a national problem for the light sources. Gibson asked that a prioritized list of what is needed be developed. This list would be similar to the XOR tactical plan, but APS wide.

October workshop:

The workshop is planned for October 20-21, 2008. Gibson outlined what the aim of the workshop will be. Important issues that will be discussed at the workshop are imaging and ultrafast science drivers and the upgrade needs for the APS (both medium- and long-term)

Gibson quoted the Five Grand Challenges for science and the imagination. The challenges, from the BESAC draft report on “Controlling Matter and Energy: Five Challenges for Science and the Imagination,” by Fleming and Ratner, include:

  • How do we control materials and processes at the level of electrons?
  • How do we design and perfect atom- and energy-efficient synthesis of new forms of matter with tailored properties?
  • How do remarkable properties of matter emerge from complex correlations of atomic and electronic constituents and how can we control these properties?
  • Can we master energy and information on the nanoscale to create new technologies with capabilities rivaling those of living systems?
  • How do we characterize and control matter away, especially very far away, from equilibrium?

Short Pulse X-rays (SPX) Project

Gibson explained that there have been problems experienced with the “quick” and “cheap” warm rf approach. The work was good but the project wasn't managed very well. Gibson went on to say that the return to the original cold rf approach is likely, offering higher performance for cost and still valuable after LCLS. As discussed during the Executive Session, a workshop on this subject was planned for February but may be changed to User Week 2008 in May. Decisions on what to do next in this area need to be addressed, and the objectives need to be clearly articulated.

Formation of XOR Beamline Advisory Committees - George Srajer

George Srajer updated the group on the status on the formation of the Beamline/User Advisory Groups for XOR Beamlines. The guidelines for the formation of these committees were developed by Paul Fenter, Tim Graber, Denis Keane, Simon Mochrie, Brian Stephenson, Linda Young, and George Srajer. The purpose of these advisory groups is to provide timely advice to local beamline management on all issues affecting users science and serve as communication channels between users and staff. These groups will be involved in discussing plans for upgrades, operational modes, instrument performance, beamtime/equipment availability, coordination of schedules, and comment on partner user proposals. These committees will help ensure that decisions are made in a transparent manner.

Srajer said that beamline management should decide the scope of each committee. Each committee will report to a XOR Group Leader. The membership of each committee represents all communities using the beamline. The chair of each committee will be appointed by the Group Leader. The APSUO Steering Committee must approve the membership. Most committees have identified its members and are in the process of confirming membership. Discussions are under way on how to organize the meetings efficiently.

Smoking Policy Rod Gerig

Gerig reported that details on the Argonne smoking policy are forthcoming. Smoking is still allowed 15 feet away from each building and will be allowed in 7% of the guest rooms at the Guest House.

Proprietary Rate Update Dennis Mills

Dennis Mills reported that our proposal on the proprietary rate has not been rejected, but DOE has made no decision. The APS will go ahead under the assumption that the proposition will be approved. Mills noted that with the reduction in running time this summer, the proprietary rate may be higher. Budget and hours have both changed from the provisional rate. Mills stated that all DOE synchrotrons have proprietary rates, and ESRF rates depend on the beamline that is selected. Calculation does not take into account any investment made by CAT members into the facility. APS still has to meet with industrial users to determine exact types of numbers to use in rate calculations.

The local concern is that the numerator for the proprietary research formula does include the cost of operating XOR beamlines. The PUC feels that the cost of staff for XOR beamlines should be subtracted from the numerator. There is a need to talk about credit for groups that have capital investment in the facility.

APS Response to the PX Review Dennis Mills

Dennis Mills informed the group about the APS response to the Protein Crystallography Cross-Cut Review held During the Scientific Advisory Committee meeting in January 2007. The general comments from the SAC included:

  • The PX community needs to be congratulated for making the APS “…the most productive and highest-impact facility in the world.”
  • The cross-cut review as it provided a good “snapshot” of the activities and issues associated with PX beamlines and users at the APS and suggestions on how to make it even better.
  • In many cases, further discussions between the APS and the PX community will be required.

This dialog will begin today when APS personnel will be meeting with representatives from the PX beamlines. Mills went on to say that it is important that meetings with PX personnel be held on a regular basis to discuss new issues and ensure action is being taken on existing issues.

Next Meeting :

The next APSUO Steering Committee Meeting will be held in May during User Week 2008.