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From the Director of LCLS: Ramping Up User Science

(Photo - Jo Stohr)

Last week, on October 1, SLAC Today reported the beginning of the first user run at the Linac Coherent Light Source, and on October 6, a sparkling cider toast on the roof of the Near Experimental Hall, initiated by happy users, commemorated its successful completion. By now, a second group of users has already started their LCLS experiments. These are exciting days for LCLS with recent stories in Nature and Science (subscription required), and scientists around the world waiting to see the first results. Stay tuned!

Yet LCLS development is ongoing. These early LCLS experiments are teaching us a great deal about the first-in-kind machine, and could be better termed "user assisted commissioning." LCLS as a construction project is not complete. Construction is still going on in the Far Experimental Hall and across the road from the Near Experimental Hall, where the office building for the LCLS staff is under construction. Also, of the six LCLS experimental stations, only the first one, designed for the study of free atoms and molecules, so-called AMO science, has been completed. While instruments for the other experimental stations or hutches are still being assembled, AMO users have been given early access to the LCLS X-rays. "User assisted commissioning" is led by the LCLS instrument scientists John Bozek and Christoph Bostedt, who commissioned the AMO instrument. John and Christoph still oversee the day-to-day operation on the experimental floor but as of October 1, the science topics are defined by user teams, led by a principal investigator. The experiments were selected by a peer reviewed proposal process and for the period October 1- December 21 are listed on the LCLS User Resources Web site.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody across the SLAC site who contributed to this early success. It required hard work by people from all six SLAC directorates, especially the accelerator staff who gave us the world's first X-ray laser. In an earlier SLAC Today column I discussed the mission of the LCLS directorate and pointed out the importance of serving our customers, the users. In the meantime, we have strengthened the LCLS team by hiring several new scientists and filled some key management positions. As shown on our new organizational chart, Sandra Honl has joined us as business manager, Cathy Knotts now manages user administration for both LCLS and the Stanford Synchrotron Lightsource, and Ian Evans will soon join us to head LCLS safety.

A key new LCLS appointment is that of Uwe Bergmann as LCLS Deputy Director. In his new role, Uwe will help me with the management and planning of the entire LCLS program and in my absence represent LCLS on the SLAC Executive Council. He previously was the head of the SSRL scientific staff in the area of chemical and materials science. Because of his deep knowledge of X-ray science and his experience with operation of a user facility, Uwe adds significant strength to the LCLS management team. He will also assume the line management role of Director of the X-Ray Facilities Division. This position was previously held by Jochen Schneider. We are very grateful to Jochen who after his retirement from DESY helped guide XFD through the formative years. Uwe's appointment now allows Jochen to take on a more desired consulting role within LCLS.

—Joachim Stöhr
SLAC Today, October 9, 2009