SHUG Executive Committee Letter 2016


July 11, 2016

Dear neutron scatterers,

As the chair of SNS-HFIR User Group Executive committee (SHUG EC), I wanted to introduce myself and other members of the committee. I also wanted to remind you of the activities from the last year and plans for 2016 and 2017.

The SHUG Executive Committee currently consists of 12 members: Boris Khaykovich (MIT), chair; Kate Ross (Colorado State), vice-chair; Claire White (Princeton), past chair; Jennifer Niedziela (ORNL), secretary; Morten Eskildsen (Notre Dame); Eugenia Kharlampieva (U of Alabama, Birmingham); Brad O’Dell (North Carolina State), student member; Souleymane Omar Diallo (ORNL); Yang Ren (ANL); Antonio Faraone (NIST); Sara Haravifard (Duke); and Gerald Schneider (Louisiana State).

SHUG EC organized two workshops in October of 2015: the User Meeting and the Second Target Station Workshop. More than 220 participants registered for the one and a half day user meeting, where SHUG EC presented the inaugural beamline scientist awards to John Ankner (SNS) and Hassina Bilheux (HFIR). In addition to scientific discussions, the meeting included discussions of issues important to users, and, as a result, produced recommendations on sample environment and data acquisition, reduction and analysis software.

The STS Workshop followed the user meeting. The purpose of the workshop was to update the user community on the planning for the STS, to engage SHUG in the process of moving the STS forward, and to seek the community’s input on all aspects of the project. The workshop had a total of 196 participants, 91 of which came outside of ORNL, 87 from the ORNL Neutron Scattering Division and 18 from other ORNL divisions. The workshop began with plenary talks summarizing the planning and initial proposed design of the STS, and how the STS complements existing neutron sources at ORNL. Additional presentations outlined the main outcomes of the four Grand Challenges workshops that motivated the development of the STS proposal. A full day was devoted to breakout sessions focused on developing the scientific case for the STS and determining “must reach” specifications of the initial suite of instruments. A report from this workshop is presented on the flash drive passed out at the ACNS.

In May 2016, the SHUG EC held an annual on-site meeting at ORNL. The meeting was an opportunity for the SHUG EC to learn about the current facility status and future plans, and to convey current user concerns to the management of Neutron Sciences Directorate (NScD) in the form of recommendations or action items. We discussed continuing engagement of users with the facilities, the status of the STS project, the response to previous SHUG-EC recommendations, planned software upgrades, beamtime proposal review, beamtime allocation polices, and integration with the ORNL Center for Nanophase Materials Science, including access to auxiliary sample characterization equipment. A new set of recommendations to the NScD management is in preparation. An important topic of ongoing discussions at the EC is how to improve the beamtime competition and allocation process. When certain instruments, such as SANS, are oversubscribed by a very large factor, many promising experiments are left unallocated, and users become discouraged from submitting proposals. One immediate concern is the insufficient number of reviewers. We ask you all to submit names of scientists who could review proposals for SNS and HFIR. Note that the user office has a very extensive list of current and past users. Therefore, names outside of SHUG will be most useful.

We are actively seeking ways to improve interaction between the SNS and HFIR users and the SHUG EC. The SHUG EC can only be effective if it receives comments from users, and instrument scientists and associates. We have instituted regular coffee breaks for users on site, introduced suggestion boxes, and created a LinkedIn page. These interactions resulted in new initiatives, such as the institution of tutorials and roundtable discussions at the SNS and HFIR User’s Meeting in 2015. Please use the EC group email: shug-ec@email.ornl.gov, or contact me directly: bkh@mit.edu. We’ll be sure to raise any new issues during our monthly teleconferences, or immediately if needed.

We are also starting to solicit names for new SHUG EC members. If you are interested in serving the user community as a direct advocate to NScD management, please get in touch. Please consider this opportunity especially if you are an experienced scientist, who would like to influence aspects of user experience at HFIR or SNS. For nomination purposes, please submit a 150-200 word biosketch to me (bkh@mit.edu) by October 28, 2016. There are two available positions on the committee and one postdoc/graduate student position.

Finally, I would also like to use this opportunity to inform the community about the next SNS and HFIR user’s meeting, which will be held jointly with the Center for Nanophase Materials Science in the summer of 2017. The final dates will be announced soon, and we hope to see many of you there. We will again be sponsoring tutorials and roundtable discussions on topics of special interest to the user community.

Please keep in touch and happy scattering!

Boris Khaykovich, for the Executive Committee