The Advanced Photon Source
a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility

APS General User Programs during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the General User (GU) Program at the APS. Affected cycles currently include:

  • 2020-1 run cycle (Jan 31 – May 31)
  • 2020-2 run cycle (Jun 10 – Sept 28)
  • 2020-3 run cycle (Oct 1 – Dec 17)

The FY20 operating schedule is provided below. It is anticipated that on-site access will remain restricted for the entire 2020-2 cycle, and that only mail-/remote access experiments will be accommodated.

Note that:

  1. Supplemental time (light green) was added for COVID-related research (primarily at the expense of the normal May-June maintenance period).
  2. The Aug-Sept maintenance period is scheduled to start earlier than normal to ensure there are no extended downtimes across all the DOE light sources, allowing COVID-related research to move forward unimpeded. 
  3. Run cycles at the APS have historically been bracketed by long maintenance periods.  This is not the case for the 2020-2 cycle, which will continue after the Aug-Sept maintenance period and end Sept 28.

FY20 operating schedule

The Beamtime Allocation Committee (BAC) was unable to allocate GU time in 2020-2, primarily due to a lack of knowledge regarding individual beamline capabilities (e.g., compatibility with mail-in/remote access modes of operation). APS has asked beamline staff to reach out to their communities and discuss the situation with PIs.  We also have asked the beamline staff to allocate time in the following priority:

  • previously cancelled beam time,
  • Proposal Review Panel scores of proposals that requested time in the 2020-2 cycle, and
  • mail-in/remote feasibility and sample availability.

We will attempt to hold a BAC meeting for the 2020-3 cycle allocations as we hope to see some users on site in the 2020-3 cycle (Oct 1 – Dec 17).

Below is the guidance APS has developed for the General User Program.

  1.  Proposal submission rules remain unchanged.

The call deadline for new proposals and beam-time requests (BTRs) for the 2020-3 cycle was July 2, 2020.  If your proposal was scheduled to end in the 2020-2 cycle and you did not submit a new proposal by the deadline, submit a new proposal and BTR in the call for the 2021-1 cycle (deadline Oct 30, 2020).  If your research program is compatible with the operational mode your beamline of choice is running during the 2020-3 cycle, consider using a Rapid Access proposal to bridge the gap.

  1. Proposals will terminate on their original schedule.
    1. All active general user proposals will terminate on their original schedule except for Partner User Proposals, which will be extended by at least one cycle, depending on when beam time is next scheduled.
    2. For proposals that were scheduled for the 2020-1 run but had to cancel due to COVID-19, a Beam Time Request (BTR) for 2020-2 was automatically added to those proposals by the User Office.
  1. Proposal scores will age under the standard rules

The scores of unallocated proposals with current BTRs are "aged" (or improved) at each cycle as part of the allocation process. If a proposal with a current BTR was not allocated beam time in the previous cycle, its score is improved by 0.2 provided a new beamtime request is submitted. This is done for a maximum of two cycles, for a maximum improvement of 0.4. The score resets to the original value after an allocation of beam time.


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