APS User News-at-a-Glance Issue 36: February 28, 2006
Advanced Photon Source www.aps.anl.gov

1. Message from Murray

2. Featured Beamline: Crystal-handling Robot Earns Loyal Following at 17-ID
3. Science Headlines: A Strange, New Fluid-like State of Matter; Molecular Structure of a Key Viral Protein

4. Proposals Due March 10
5. Summer Schedule Published
6. Scientific Advisory Committee Considers New Proposals, Welcomes New Members
7. Users Meeting Registration Open, Abstract Deadline March 15
8. Directory of APS Scientific Contacts Now Available

---Meeting notice: Synchrotron radiation in materials science
---Meeting notice: Users Meeting adjunct workshops


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1. Message from Murray

We are at a critical juncture for the APS. This is a very challenging year, yet the future is surprisingly bright. We are optimistic because the President just introduced the American Competitiveness Initiative, which would lead to a doubling of funding in the physical sciences, reversing a decaying trend that has eroded physical science research and reduced the pool of trained scientists and engineers in the United States. In the context of this, and supported with very effective advocacy by synchrotron users, the President's fiscal year 2007 budget proposal contains a much-needed 12% increase for the APS. The President's initiative, combined with steps we are now taking to increase efficiency, promises both adequate operating funds for 2007 and opportunities for future upgrades to beamlines and the accelerator. Congressional approval of the 2007 budget will depend on continuing advocacy in the face of competing priorities.

Despite this promising future, the present fiscal year is difficult for the APS. Our budget, along with those of other major facilities in the DOE Office of Science, is slightly down from last fiscal year. We are dealing with this in several ways: we sought voluntary reductions in staffing at the end of last year; we have not filled some positions that are vacant; and unfortunately we have been forced to lay off several employees. In combination with a one-year redirection of a large part of our annual funding for equipment and accelerator improvements, we can complete this fiscal year without further reductions. Obviously we cannot continue for long like this (it is the equivalent of "not painting the bridge") but in anticipation of proposed increases next year, we can remain vital and productive for a short time. I am pleased to confirm that we expect to be able to deliver the full 5000 user operation hours scheduled for this fiscal year.

An important factor that allows us to reduce our staff without unduly affecting operations and research is that we will reorganize on March 31st to further improve our efficiency and productivity. The reorganization keeps a three-division structure with newly forged division identities: Accelerator Systems Division (the "machine" division) contains the operations, diagnostics, accelerator physics, magnetic devices, RF, and power systems groups; X-Ray Sciences Division (the "beamlines" division) contains all the in-house beamline operations and research (XOR) as well as the optics, user administration, and experimental operations support groups; and APS Engineering Support Division contains all the mechanical and interlock systems groups, and computer systems groups, including controls, together with user ESH support and conventional facilities. The latter division will provide the engineering support that is matrixed to the two other divisions, the "machine" and the "beamlines" divisions. The change reflects the natural organization of a large facility such as APS, which has only become possible in the last couple of years as the beamline operations and research activities have expanded sufficiently. A draft organization chart with more detail can be found at http://aps.anl.gov/About/Organization/20060223_aps_new.pdf.

For several years we have been engaging in strategic planning on the future shape of the APS, with an aim to bringing us to the international forefront in scientifically exciting areas. With the increased support for facility development demonstrated in the new Presidential Initiative, it is time for us to move ahead with a firm proposal to upgrade the accelerator and beamlines and so create revolutionary new capabilities for our users. Look forward to more dialog soon on this important opportunity.

Contact: Murray Gibson, jmgibson@aps.anl.gov


2. Featured Beamline: Crystal-handling Robot Earns Loyal Following at 17-ID

For the last two years, protein crystallographers working at the IMCA-CAT insertion device beamline at sector 17 (17-ID) have been singing the praises of an extremely cooperative and efficient new "staff member"--the Rigaku ACTOR sample-handling robot.

The robot's chief charm is its extremely high throughput. In a 24-hour period, users can screen up to 60 crystals and collect 15 to 20 full data sets. "Users are enjoying the benefits of the robot. They don't have to spend time accessing the end station to mount samples, so that time is available for more data collection," said Lisa Keefe, the director of the Industrial Macromolecular Crystallography Association Collaborative Access Team (IMCA-CAT).

"Also, the robot never gets tired, so you don't get fatigue-induced errors, and it can operate unattended, so on-site teams can be smaller," she said. "It also means the people who do travel here can sleep through the night while the robot executes their experiments."

The unit takes up to 60 samples at once. It runs unattended and simply pages the user in case of interruption or when the run is complete. After an initial orientation that takes about one to two hours, the user manages the robot independently.

"The robotic setup is ideal for high-throughput studies, so pharmaceutical drug discovery and structural genomics can particularly benefit," Keefe explained. "It's also suitable for users who need to screen through many crystals to find the best ones."

With new robot software just installed in January 2006, users will have it really easy if they want to screen several crystals of the same type. They don't even have to inspect the screening data. Instead, they can tell the robot to rank the crystals and then collect full data sets only on the best crystal.

It also helps that the robot isn't too picky about sample preparation. In fact, there are only three simple guidelines: (1) use magnetic base mounting pins, (2) match the loop size to the size of crystal, and (3) use sample mounting pins that are all the same length. In fact, because of this simplicity, IMCA-CAT can accept samples by mail from member pharmaceutical companies.

The robot also makes remote operation a possibility. Already remote monitoring is available to member pharmaceutical companies. IMCA-CAT staff is now embarking on tests of remote operation. Once technical details are worked out internally, these capabilities will be offered to users. "When starting something new, I aim to absolutely ensure success, so we take it step by step: first our staff, then our members, then our general users," Keefe says.

The robot has been so successful that IMCA-CAT has plans for another. The upgrade to the sector 17 bending magnet experiment end station, now underway, includes a second ACTOR robot, this one with triple the capacity, accommodating 180-samples. After commissioning, this robot will be available to users.

3. Science Headlines

A Strange, New Fluid-like State of Matter. High-speed radiography images of a sand jet created by dropping a marble into loose sand show that the sand briefly behaves like a special type of dense fluid. The images, which were captured using the GSECARS 13-BM-D beamline at the APS, will help scientists understand "the peculiar behavior of granular materials . under a variety of industrial, civil engineering, and scientific conditions."
--Citation: John R. Royer, Eric I. Corwin, Andrew Flior, Maria-Luisa Cordero, Mark L. Rivers, Peter J. Eng, and Heinrich M. Jaeger, Formation of granular jets observed by high-speed X-ray radiography, Nature Physics 1, 164-167 (2005)

The Molecular Structure of a Key Viral Protein. Scientists using the sector 32 and sector 5 beamlines at the APS have determined the molecular structure of viral protein (parainfluenza virus 5 fusion [F] protein) that is part of a family of viruses (paramyxoviruses) that causes everything from pneumonia, croup, and bronchiolitis to cold-like illness and is responsible for many hospitalizations and deaths each year.
--Citation: Hsien-Sheng Yin, Xiaolin Wen, Reay G. Paterson, Robert A. Lamb, and Theodore S. Jardetzky, Structure of the parainfluenza virus 5 F protein in its metastable, prefusion conformation, Nature 439, 38-44 (5 January 2006)

Full stories and other highlights: http://www.aps.anl.gov/Science/Highlights/


4. Proposals Due March 10

General User proposals and Partner User proposals are due by March 10 at 5:00 p.m. Chicago time (Central Standard Time). Please check that you can access the proposal system well in advance of the deadline so technical assistance can be provided if necessary.

More info: http://www.aps.anl.gov/Users/Scientific_Access/
Contact: Elane Streets, estreets@aps.anl.gov

5. Summer Schedule Published

The summer schedule has been published: Run 2006-2 begins May 30 and ends August 25; see http://www.aps.anl.gov/Facility/Schedule/. The schedule features six days of 324-singlet mode in July and nine days of 1296-singlet mode and 12 days of hybrid fill in August.

Contact: John Quintana, jpq@aps.anl.gov

6. Scientific Advisory Committee Considers New Proposals, Welcomes New Members

The APS Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) met January 24-26. The meeting included two days of information, updates, and discussions of APS strategic and tactical planning, as well as formulation of specific recommendations to the APS regarding the eight sectors reviewed during 2005, two proposals to develop news beamlines (one for a BioNanoprobe and the other for high-energy photoemission and soft x-ray resonant scattering), a proposal to further develop the bending-magnet beamline on Sector 10, and responses to issues raised during the 2005 SAC meeting. In addition, a half day was spent in a cross-cut review of APS research in polymer science. The APS greatly appreciates the service of the outgoing SAC members William Bassett, Peter Ingram, Gerhard Materlik, James Norris, and Joachim Stöhr. The committee welcomed the following new members: Slade Cargill, Lehigh University; Howard Einspahr, retired research fellow, Bristol-Myers Squibb; Richard Leapman, National Institutes of Health; Piero Pianetta, Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory; Michael Wasielewski, Northwestern University; and Donald J. Weidner, State University of New York, Stony Brook.

More about SAC: http://www.aps.anl.gov/About/Committees/Scientific_Advisory_Committee/

7. Users Meeting Registration Open, Abstract Deadline March 15

The virtual doors are now open for the 2006 APS Users Meeting, May 1-5. This meeting is the first to be held concurrently with three other Argonne user facilities. In addition to fellow x-ray scientists, you'll be able to meet staff and users of the Center for Nanoscale Materials, the Electron Microscopy Center, and the Intense Pulsed Neutron Source.

The meeting web site is http://www.aps.anl.gov/Users/Meeting/. Click on Advanced Photon Source in the center logo to get a snapshot view of the meeting.

A full roster of excellent speakers is in place for the APS plenary session, and a single registration fee gives you a choice of 12 workshops throughout the week.

Three separate poster sessions are scheduled, focused on x-ray science, nanoscience, and electron/neutron science. Posters can be displayed in more than one session, if appropriate (space permitting). As in past years, prizes will be awarded to the best student posters in the APS session.

8. Directory of Scientific Contacts Now Available

The APS has published a partial directory of APS staff and resident users, listed by self-identified areas of expertise. The list is intended to help users find a local expert with whom they can discuss their experimental needs. It was not organized into categories by deliberate choice: instead, the listing reflects the exact terminology supplied by the scientists. The is located on the APS home page under User Information, on the Contacts page.

Directory: http://www.aps.anl.gov/Users/Contacts/Contacts_Directory/
Contact: Jane Andrew, jandrew@aps.anl.gov


Synchrotron Radiation in Materials Science
The Fifth International Conference on Synchrotron Radiation in Materials Science (SRMS-5) will be held July 30 - August 2 in Chicago. The abstract deadline is February 28. A limited number of grants for young scientists (students and postdoctoral fellows) to attend SRMS-5 are available. Presentations will provide an overview of the latest research developments in a broad range of materials areas.

Meeting Web site: http://www.aps.anl.gov/SRMS5.html

Users Meeting Adjunct Workshops

Two workshops are being independently organized to coincide with the Users Meeting. When more information is available it will be linked at the Users Meeting web site, http://www.aps.anl.gov/Users/Meeting/
--Synergy of 21st Century High Pressure Science and Technology, April 29-May 1 (organized by HP-CAT, APS XOR, and GSECARS):
--Workshop on Time-Resolved and Laue Crystallography, May 6-8 (organized by BioCARS)


Regularly scheduled technical meetings -- http://www.aps.anl.gov/News/Meetings/
Proposal system -- http://beam.aps.anl.gov/pls/apsweb/gup0005.start_page
Ops. Monthly meetings -- http://www.aps.anl.gov/News/Meetings/Monthly_Meetings/
User calendar (admin. meetings, reviews) -- http://www.aps.anl.gov/Users/General_Reference/Calendar/

*New entry since last issue

*March 9 Monthly Operations Meeting, 402 Auditorium
March 10 General/Partner User proposal deadline, Run 2006-2
March 28 Proposal Review Panel Meeting
April 11 Beamtime Allocation Committee Meeting
*April 12 Monthly Operations Meeting, 402 Auditorium
April 24 End of Run 2006-1
May 1-6 2006 Users Meeting
May 2 Partner User Council Meeting
May 4 APSUO Steering Committee Meeting
*May 24 Monthly Operations Meeting, 402 Auditorium
May 30 Start of Run 2006-2
*June 28 Monthly Operations Meeting, 402 Auditorium
*July 11 SER-CAT Review
*July 12 GM/CA-CAT Review
*July 13 SBC-CAT Review
July 14 General/Partner User proposal deadline, Run 2006-3
August 1 Proposal Review Panel Meeting
August 15 Beamtime Allocation Committee Meeting
August 25 End of Run 2006-2
*January 23-25 Scientific Advisory Committee
*January 24 Cross-cut Review
May 7-11 2007 Users Meeting