The start of the year is a time that I tend to think about what has happened in the last 12 months and what we can look forward to for the next. For me personally, the last six months at least have brought a lot of change. It has not only been the start of a new, demanding but exciting job, but also all the things one has to do with moving to a new country: finding somewhere to live, opening a bank account, getting a driver’s license. All things that have to get done. Thankfully, all that lies in the past now, I feel a certain degree of residential normality, and look forward to exploring and enjoying the Bay Area and all that it has to offer with my wife.
The last few months have also been important for me to settle into my new role. I have met a huge number of people in this short space of time from the LBNL, ALS, and DOE communities, and at every occasion I have been impressed and excited by their enthusiasm and dedication to supporting the ALS, its users, and its mission. I cannot tell you enough about how that is important for our shared success going forward.
In various meetings and at the User Meeting that we held in September, I have spoken about our vision for the ALS after the successful completion of our upgrade project, ALS-U. We call the vision for this new, upgraded facility ALS 2.0—but the ALS will not change its name to this! This vision tries to leverage the success of the ALS over the last three decades and set a vision for the next 30 years. While visions are great and can act as a compass going forward, the realities and practicalities of implementing this vision and what they actually mean matter enormously as they need to be converted to real plans, actions, and realities on the ground.
Briefly, ALS 2.0 is an ALS that: exploits the new capabilities of brightness and coherence offered by ALS-U; continues to actively support its users, collaborate with its partners, and seek new ones whenever possible; deploys modern instrument and data/AI technologies; provides excellent support and services to its users; and has a balanced portfolio of unique capability, capacity, and commodity beamlines—all to advance science for the benefit of society. And I want to note something very important here. Success of the ALS and the ALS 2.0 vision is a collective effort, irrespective of the role that each of us may play: supportive, technical, scientific, or otherwise.
We had the opportunity to start the discussion about this vision and what it can mean practically with the ALS community of users, partners, and staff at the User Meeting and visioning workshops in September and more recently at a staff and partner retreat at the start of January.
Personally, I cherished the interactions with the community, our partners, and staff during these meetings. The exchange of exciting ideas, the shared sense of purpose, and the collective commitment to the success of the ALS left a lasting impression on me. Witnessing the strength of our community has been a source of motivation, reinforcing our shared dedication to advancing the cause of the ALS.
A pivotal moment in our recent activities were the visioning workshops, where we collectively charted out excellent ideas and compelling future scientific directions for the ALS. The outcome of these workshops holds great promise, and we are eager to share it with the broader community. Plans are underway to publish these ideas in the near future, ensuring that the fruits of our collective visioning efforts are disseminated widely. The same ideas are also feeding into our strategic plan that we must present to our stakeholders by the end of September this year.
In the meantime, the work towards completion of ALS-U is proceeding with great speed. During the summer shutdown, ALS and ALS-U worked together to complete installation of an entire sector of the new accumulator ring as well as tackle many important infrastructure projects inside the tunnel needed for the upgrade. The winter shutdown has already begun and aims to continue with the installation of a significant portion of the accumulator. Here, the collaboration between the ALS and ALS-U teams is vital for a joint success, and so far I am really pleased with the progress that we have made together.
Looking forward to 2024, I feel that we have some very good foundations in place to meet our challenges and harness opportunities. We need to continue and strengthen our collaboration with ALS-U to ensure that we keep the project robustly on a successful trajectory and prepare for the main installation of the new storage ring. We also need to continue to support our own ALS instrumentation projects, as these will be important to help us take advantage of the new scientific capabilities of the upgraded ALS. Here, the challenge for us is to replenish the workforce at the ALS that delivers instruments. This is a top priority for us in the next 12 months. Another critical priority is to finish the work we have begun with the visioning workshops on our strategic plan and begin its implementation. This strategic plan will set organizational and technical priorities for the coming years that will help us realize our vision of ALS 2.0.
I strongly believe that 2024 will be a very exciting year. In addition to what I mentioned above there are other exciting things that are emerging, and I look forward to sharing more about these in the near future.
For now, I wish you all a happy and successful 2024 and look forward to seeing you all at the ALS.