It’s been a very busy year at the ALS, with new organizational structures coming up to speed, new cutting-edge instruments coming on line and commissioned for user operations, and the ALS Upgrade Project progressing rapidly. The facility continues to work on resiliency for optimal user operations, particularly through upgrades and improvements to accelerator subsystems and conventional facilities. Sustained efforts by many staff allowed us to achieve an overall accelerator availability of 96.8% in FY19, very close to our ambitious internal goal. Last fall, ALS and LBNL staff responded with admirable dedication to more prosaic resiliency issues—lost operational time due to regional power outages and errant rodents.
As you may recall, the ALS has been building and upgrading beamlines at a rapid pace over the past several years, and it’s great to see several of these coming to life. The MAESTRO and COSMIC imaging beamlines have grown large and active user communities in their first few years of operation and are both producing dazzling results. COSMIC scattering, AMBER, QERLIN, 9.0.1, and 7.3.1 are already or will soon be in commissioning. Around the storage ring, there are many smaller, but still very important, upgrades to detectors, optics, and endstations. Much of this activity is designed to keep the ALS tools world leading, and about half of it will benefit significantly from the ALS Upgrade (ALS-U).
The ALS-U Project team has grown rapidly in the past year and now supports about 100 FTEs (full-time equivalents). They have made much progress, with approval of CD-3A in December 2019. This will support acquisition and installation of the accumulator ring, an important part of the new injection system, in the storage ring tunnel over the next four years. With broad user input, decisions have been made on beamlines to be built and upgraded in the project, on the target storage ring energy (up from 1.9 to 2.0 GeV), and on high-field bend magnet sources. Myriad other smaller decisions have been made, all with active input from the ALS. Continued rapid progress on ALS-U will continue in the coming year.
Recently we have been focusing attention on evolving partnerships between the ALS and the user community, which have been so important in the past and will continue to drive ALS excellence well into the future. This includes, of course, our Participating Research Teams in biosciences and in extended ultraviolet lithography, but also other partners that help spread ALS impact broadly across the community. A good example is our partnership with the LBNL Chemical Sciences Division (CSD), including a growing cadre of academic, industrial, and national laboratory users. This partnership helps the ALS support strong programs across wavelength ranges and chemistry sub-disciplines, in some cases where ALS staff do not have deep expertise. Strong partnerships bring valuable depth and breadth to the ALS program.
In part to give these partnerships more structure, the ALS Science Council and its associated Thrust Areas (TAs) were initiated in Fall 2018. These have come up to speed this past year under the leadership of Andreas Scholl, Eli Rotenberg, and the TA leads. This new structure will drive ALS scientific strategic planning, outreach to the user community, and targeted fundraising. For example, the Science Council drafted the FY2020 ALS Strategic Plan, and has already helped draft several major proposals. It will also be actively involved in long-range planning for renewal of the Old Town site on the east side of the ALS. I invite and encourage users interested in helping the ALS plan its future to get involved with Science Council activities by participating in a Thrust Area.
I want to close by discussing the ALS Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accountability (IDEA) Committee and associated task forces, which were established in the last year. IDEA is a Lab-wide initiative, developed and strongly supported by LBNL Director Witherell. Divisions across the Lab are adapting IDEA to their own local culture and environment. At the ALS, we created task forces to focus on topics that are particularly pertinent at a facility designed primarily to serve users and that operates 24/7 – communication and education; staff career and professional development; recognition; work-life balance; social activities; outreach, recruitment, and hiring; and onboarding. Collectively these topics strongly influence our culture.
Along with innovations in accelerator and experimental systems technologies, IDEA activities are essential to keep ALS strong for decades to come. They will help build a strong staff with diverse expertise and backgrounds, and in turn feed an inclusive and supportive culture that is an engine for strong innovation. The task forces are meeting regularly and are starting to produce draft policies and guidelines. In addition, they have held several successful events, administered a comprehensive climate survey that will guide priorities for ALS culture, and are helping to develop a mentoring program within the LBNL Energy Sciences Area.
The IDEA Committee and task forces include staff in the ALS and other matrixed divisions, but the result will also broadly impact the ALS user experience. I encourage users to talk to ALS staff, including me, about IDEA, and to get involved as appropriate. I very much look forward to helping ALS get ready for the future, with a world-leading x-ray source, cutting-edge instruments, and dedicated, outstanding staff, who will ensure that the ALS remains a highly innovative and productive facility.