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From the Director of SSRL: Four Successful and Productive Reviews

(Photo - Chi-Chang Kao)

Over the last few months, we at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource have been quite busy. In addition to keeping the accelerator and beamlines operating well for the users, we prepared and hosted the SSRL Scientific Advisory Committee meeting on January 10-11, the SSRL Machine Advisory Committee meeting on January 12, the SSRL Users' Executive Committee meeting on January 27, the Department of Energy tri-annual review of SSRL on February 9-11, and the SSRL Proposal Review Panel meeting on February 18. It's been a whirlwind, but a very productive and useful one.

The first meeting brought together the Scientific Advisory Committee, which advises SSRL and SLAC on the long- term scientific direction, utilization and scientific productivity of SSRL. We have significantly expanded the SAC membership to provide better coverage in priority scientific areas and facility management. We are also looking to the SAC to help facilitate the formation of strategic alliances with entities such as DOE Innovation Hubs. At the meeting, we presented an update on recent progress and changes at SSRL, as well as an overview of SSRL for the benefit of new committee members. And, most importantly, we presented the current status of the SSRL strategic plan and our vision for its development. In the coming months, we will work closely with the SAC to complete the plan.

As part of the SSRL strategy, it is critically important to operate SPEAR3 reliably for users and to clearly define an improvement plan to keep SPEAR3 competitive for the next decade and beyond. The Machine Advisory Committee was charged with reviewing and providing feedback on the accelerator improvement plan developed by the accelerator staff. The committee report will be discussed at the next meeting of the Science Advisory Committee, which will provide input on the prioritization of accelerator upgrades and their relevance to the scientific programs.

At the Users' Executive Committee meeting, we discussed at length how we can better communicate with the user community, in particular in the next few months as we develop the strategic plan. It was a very productive discussion and generated many great ideas. We will start implementing these ideas as soon as possible. The goal is for SSRL to engage the user community in a timely fashion and as widely as possibleŚnot only in the development of the strategic plan right now, but also in our future planning.

In parallel with these advisory committee meetings, we also prepared the documentation and logistics needed for the tri-annual DOE review of SSRL. This review is very important for SSRL. It gives us a chance to showcase what we have accomplished over the last three years and present our vision and plans for the future in front of our peers and DOE program managers. By having the SAC, MAC and UEC meetings before the DOE review, we were able to incorporate valuable input from these advisory bodies into the DOE review documentation and presentation.

The DOE review went very well based on what we heard from the reviewers during the review and at the closeout, although the final report will not be available for another two to three months. The reviewers were uniform in their very positive comments on the scientific productivity, legendary user support, and technical developments of SSRL, as well as the major steps taken by SLAC over the last three years. In fact, one reviewer stated that among DOE laboratories that he is aware of, SLAC is the best in making science the highest priority. This is a clear validation of the success of SSRL as a major user facility, and we should all be very proud.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the effort and teamwork of the SSRL staff, as well as the assistance we received from many in the laboratory, over the last few months.

ŚChi-Chang Kao
  
SLAC Today, February 25, 2011