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November 2011 Print

Michael Banda, Deputy Division Director for Operations


As the relatively new Deputy Division Director for Operations, I have found that there is never a dull moment at the ALS.  While we have many challenges in these difficult political times that are wrought with uncertainty, we enjoy strong support from our users and from the Office of Basic Energy Sciences.  This shows in the investments being made in us: beamlines are being improved, and new ones (MAESTRO and COSMIC) are being constructed.  In addition, we are in the process of completing several upgrades to the synchrotron that will increase our brightness and reliability.  These upgrades include an improved storage ring RF ,a controls upgrade, new power supplies, and new sextupole magnets to decrease horizontal emittance and thus increase brightness.  Curiously, I have become quite enamored of the machine.  It is probably due to my training as a biologist that makes me occasionally think of our synchrotron as a living organism.  It seems alive and I am convinced that sometimes it expresses an attitude, good and annoying – fascinating.

It has been a year-and-a-half since I joined the ALS, and I have had the benefit of moving into a great organization with an outstanding staff. I came to particularly appreciate the quality of ALS and our staff when Roger asked me to help shepherd the BES triennial review that took place in March of this year.  I will never describe such an event as fun, but it was, however, a wonderful opportunity for me to learn and experience the skill and dedication of the people that work at the ALS.  Yes, our machine and beamlines are first rate, but our people are even better.  It was remarkable for me to see how everyone pulled together to achieve the best review possible, truly befitting of an organization that epitomizes the “Big Science” concept advanced by E.O. Lawrence.  I am struck by all the skill sets that are necessary to keep us making and using light.  The pride in being from, or associated with, the ALS is palpable.  Through enabling and doing cutting-edge science that result in more than 600 publications per year, to keeping the machine in top form,  all members of the ALS  have much to be proud of.  A member of one of our advisory boards introduced herself to me shortly after I joined ALS.  She told me that she uses many synchrotrons but that ALS is her favorite, and she likes coming here the best.  I can understand why.  I am very pleased to be working for you.

I wish you a safe and happy holiday season.