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2012 ALS User Meeting Highlights Print

audience 2012 user meetingALS Users’ Executive Committee Chair Brandy Toner launched this year’s User Meeting with a warm welcome to the 417 registered attendees who gathered from around the world to attend plenary sessions, workshops, and social gatherings. Berkeley Lab Deputy Director Horst Simon then extended his own welcome, touching upon the importance of the synergy between the ALS and the Lab as the ALS begins a collaboration with the Lab’s computational research program, which Simon previously led, to solve data management challenges. ALS Division Director Roger Falcone thi(at left) provided a broad overview of the state of the ALS, covering budgets, important research areas, and user demographics. Falcone was pleased to point out the jump in the number of refereed publications last year and notable science highlights, which communicated ALS advances in structural biology, battery research, and fundamental science. Falcone acknowledged the work of Simon Morton and Jeff Dickert at the BCSB beamline this year, which won them an R&D100 Award.

DOE Associate Director of Science for Basic Energy Science (BES), Dr. Harriet Kung, began her presentation with a discussion of new opportunities for mesoscale science, which the DOE sees giving rise to interesting possibilities for integration of computation, characterization, and synthesis. Regardless of uncertainties in funding, which Kung described as “a very challenging situation,” BES is looking forward to continuing its commitment to science with a focused interest on clean energy science and advances in computational power. Kung detailed BES efforts to inform taxpayers about the benefits of facilities and programs through various communications efforts.

Don Medley, Berkeley Lab’s Head of Federal Government Relations, continued Kung’s discussion of communication efforts with a lively talk about building support for science among our elected officials through education and outreach. Monica Metzler, Chair of the Illinois Science Council, followed with an entertaining and informative message about communication techniques that make presentations most effective.

The Molecular Foundry’s Director, Omar Yaghi, then took the stage to discuss his groundbreaking work on metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), which show great promise for natural gas storage and carbon gas capture. Yaghi articulated the vast opportunities available to scientists who want to help move MOF research forward and his hopes for collaboration between the Foundry and the ALS.

ALS staff updates included User Services group lead Sue Bailey, who introduced plans for a new ALS user portal and an updated registration and proposal system. David Robin, Division Deputy for Accelerator Operation and Development, reviewed planned accelerator, instrumentation, and controls upgrades and a new operational mode.

Pupa Gilbert of the University of Wisconsin discussed her work on mapping the amorphous-to-crystalline transitions in sea urchin biominerals using the PEEM microscope at Beamline 11.0.1. Steve Kevan, newly appointed Deputy Division Director for Science at the ALS, discussed his work on hidden symmetries in magnetic domains.

poster slamTwenty-one students from around the world then stepped up to present their research for the third annual student poster slam (at right). They were followed by Nate Lewis, Director of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) at Caltech, a program dedicated to the development of an artificial solar-fuel generation technology.  JCAP aims to find a cost-effective method to produce fuels using only sunlight, water, and carbon-dioxide as inputs.

At the poster competition (below) and reception that evening, students fielded questions about their work, with first prize going to Mahati Chintapalli of the Materials Science Department at UC Berkeley for her research on size-dependent dissociation of CO on cobalt nanocatalysts.

Tuesday morning began with award winners speaking about their work – first up was Shirley Award winner Carl Percival, an atmospheric chemist from the University of Manchester, whose team made the first direct measurements of the reaction rates of Criegee intermediates and thus showed that their impact on tropospheric chemistry and climate may be substantially greater than previously assumed. Student poster award winner Mahati Chintapalli also had a chance to present and field questions about her research.

Tuesday progressed with presentations by ALS users working in a variety of research areas. Berkeley Lab senior materials scientist Rob Ritchie talked about his research on the fracture behavior of human bone and ceramic composites using x-ray synchrotron microtomography. Wanli Yang, an ALS staff scientist working on battery research, spoke about using soft x-rays to probe electronic states key to battery performance. Andrew McElrone, an ALS user and Research Scientist with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service, spoke about his use of high-resolution computed tomography to gain a better understanding of a grapevine’s water transport system and reactions to drought pressure.

ALS staff scientist Eli Rotenberg rounded out Tuesday’s session with an entertaining and enlightening retrospective on the past 19 years of photoemission at Beamline 7. The beamline was retired recently and is currently undergoing a complete rebuild.

Tuesday’s awards dinner brought the ALS user community together to recognize some of their own distinguished accomplishments. The Klaus Halbach Award for Innovative Instrumentation went to Simon Morton and Jeff Dickert of Berkeley Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division for the invention and implementation of the Compact Variable Collimator, which has led to a dramatic increase in productivity in protein crystallography at the Berkeley Center for Structural Biology beamlines. The Tim Renner User Services Award for Outstanding Support to the ALS User Community was awarded to Tolek Tyliszczak, beamline scientist at the Molecular Environmental Sciences beamline, a leading national resource in the field of soft x-ray synchrotron radiation research. Descriptions of the awards and photos of the recipients are available on  the 2012 ALS User Meeting Awards Web page.

Thirteen workshops took up the remainder of the meeting; see the complete list of workshop speakers and agendas.