ALS UEC Elections (Nov 2019)

Here are the candidates for the new members of the Advanced Light Source Users’ Executive Committee.
(note: the order of the candidates has been shuffled with a random number generator.)

The election is now closed.

1. Stephanie Gilbert Corder

My main research interest is the study of the electronic and optical properties of surfaces and interfaces with infrared spectroscopic techniques. The development of nanoscale spatial resolution at beamlines 2.4 and 5.4 has significantly expanded advanced materials characterization in the infrared, and I am particularly interested in the nanoscale behavior of systems with strong electron correlations, low dimensional systems, defects and energy conversion systems.

In May of this year, I joined the scientific staff at the ALS as a beamline scientist in the infrared group.  As a postdoc, I was a user and experimental lead at the IR beamlines, so I been involved with both sides and feel that I can offer either perspective to discussions of the user experience. My goal is to help make beamtime as productive as possible, and by taking an active role in the UEC, I plan to be a strong advocate for our users.

2. Eric Meshot

I am a staff scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Lab and I have been an active user at the ALS since 2014 – with broader previous experience at CHESS, NSLS, LCLS – exploring nanocarbon materials for applications in next-generation molecular separation and energy storage devices.  I primarily use the suite of ALS scattering beamlines, covering the spectrum of soft, tender, and hard X-rays (, 5.3.1, 7.3.3, 12.2.2) to interrogate structure of soft materials and interfaces spanning diverse length scales.

My interests in joining the UEC are spurred by this critical moment ahead of the anticipated ALS-U, which is expected to drive substantial changes within the facility and many beamlines. It will be important to engage the existing community that has helped make the ALS a premier light source for soft and tender X-ray science while also encouraging the next wave of young scientists to capitalize on the exciting upgrades.

Specific plans may include fostering more cross-talk between research at the ALS and the Molecular Foundry as well as designing ALS User Meeting workshops toward early career scientists and/or those without synchrotron experience.  Ultimately, I would like to approach the UEC position as a learning experience and an opportunity to be of service.

3. Hope Michelsen

I have been running experiments at the ALS for the past 8 years in an obsessive pursuit to understand high-temperature carbon-particle formation and chemistry.  I have had the amazing opportunity to work at Beamlines 9.0.2, 7.3.3, and 9.3.2 with some of the most inspiring scientists in the world who work at these beamlines.

The ALS is a true gift to the scientific community. It would be an honor to help it continue to evolve, especially during this exciting time of ALS upgrades. As part of the UEC, I would like to help the user community participate in the vision and plans for ALS-U. I am also enthusiastic about helping the ALS continue to foster the diverse, inclusive, and scientifically vibrant community I very much appreciate.

I represent the chemistry and energy science communities.

4. Shambhavi Pratap

What is your connection to/interest in the ALS?
I was an ALS doctoral fellow (2018-2019) and during the year, I represented the interests of my colleagues to the management. While at the lab, I had the opportunity to interact closely with the ALS staff, affiliates, and visitors. I was also involved in supporting user groups during experimental organization and beamtime.

Why do you want to be on the UEC?
Through its support, the ALS community made my stay at the lab highly productive and memorable. In the course of my work, I realized how certain approaches could help capitalize the working relationship, for the users, and the ALS staff.

What specific plans do you have for the UEC?
I have a few plans I would like for the UEC to consider, and help realize

  • Encouraging affiliates and term fellows to share their work with the ALS community through talks
  • A system of encouraging mobility of term fellows to working groups beyond their own
  • A system of involving student members alongside experienced individuals in organizing symposia at the ALS user meeting
  • Possibly include the opportunity for interested student members (or attendees in general) to work alongside workshop organizers and the communications team, to document the proceedings of events
  • Encourage invited contributions (~25%) from student members to the workshops during the user meeting
  • Possibly organize a session for the ALS fellows/visitors to share their work, and for interested individuals /bodies to network with them, and propose future opportunities
  • Invite attendees of the user meeting to share their experience (published alongside proceedings)
  • Hold a popular vote on poster award by attendees (aside from the awards decided by the UEC)
  • Reduce the waste generated during the different events organized at the ALS
  • Collective meeting photo during the ALS user meeting

What is your vision for the User Meeting program?
The ALS user meeting brings together communities of students, scientists, engineers and developers. I would like future meetings to be a platform to promote cross-fertilization of ideas among the different groups to plan and execute novel experiments which would otherwise not see advanced light.

Community represented
Condensed matter physics, energy material

5. Yingge Du

My name is Yingge Du. I am a Senior Research Scientist in the Physical Science Division at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). My research focus is primarily on understanding the structural-property relationships in well-defined epitaxial thin films and heterojunctions.

We have established long-time collaborations with scientists at different synchrotron facilities to characterize the structure and chemistry of our synthesized materials. I have been a user of the ambient pressure XPS (APXPS, 9.3.2), X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS, 8.0.1) beamlines, and is also involved in PNNL’s effort to help build the AMBER (Energy, Catalytic, and Chemical Sciences) beamline (6.0.1) at ALS.  

I have had the privilege to collaborate with scientists at ALS, APS, NSLSII, Diamond (UK), and SSLS (Singapore), and understand that many other researchers like me can benefit tremendously from having such access. Being on the UEC would allow me to better understand the capabilities and priorities at ALS, interact with beamline scientists and users, and help propose new capabilities and attract new users to ALS. I fully support the ALS UEC’s mission and will try my best to represent the interests of users from all over the world. One specific plan I want to propose is to reach out to early career scientists who may benefit from using the synchrotron facilities but are either unaware of or have no previous experience. News Letters and/or assigned point of contact to each year’s early career awardees (e.g., DOE, NSF, NIH) would be a good start. This can be done together with UECs from other synchrotron facilities.

I really enjoyed the User Meeting and subsequent Workshops in September. It would be great if some of the tutorials can be recorded and make available online (maybe it has been done already). I had the feeling that because of the timing, the attendees, particularly students, are mostly from nearby universities. I could not find much information online but am wondering whether a 3 day or week-long summer school would help train more next generation users who do not have existing connection to ALS.

6. Matthijs A. van Spronsen

Synchrotrons and beamlines have played an important role in my research (chemistry and physics of surfaces/interfaces) starting as a physics graduate student at the Leiden University, the Netherlands. During that time, I frequented the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Grenoble, France to perform surface X-ray diffraction on model catalysts under reaction conditions and went to Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste, Italy to perform X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Continuing as a postdoctorate fellow for Cynthia Friend at Harvard University and, later, for Miquel Salmeron at the Berkeley Laboratory, I got involved in ambient-pressure X-ray photoelectron and X-ray absorption spectroscopy to study solid-gas and solid-liquid interfaces. These measurements involve many beamlines at the Advanced Light Source; National Synchrotron Light Source II; ALBA Synchrotron, Spain; and the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource. Summarizing, I have been a user at numerous beamlines and synchrotrons, of which the Advanced Light Source is the closest to my heart.

As a member of the ALS’ User Executive Committee, I would like to improve communication channels between different users groups working on the same instrument. This is especially relevant for the ambient-pressure beamlines, in which the state of the endstation is vital for successful experiments. Contaminations from the chamber walls can easily transfer to the sample via the gas phase potentially leading to unacceptable levels of contaminations. Maintaining a digital, user-accessible log of previously used samples and gases, as well as observed contaminations, is a first step in mitigating these problems and will lead to higher quality experiments. Similarly, a log tracking all experimental/technical beamline issues and workarounds will be equally useful, for example when problems occur at 4:37 am and the beamline scientist is sound asleep. (For some reason, these problems consistently happen in the middle of the night.)

Finally, I would love to be involved in and learn how to organize the ALS users’ meeting. In my view, the most important aspect of the users’ meeting is to combine different fields. As my contribution, I want to organize focus sessions aimed at combining unusual fields, hopefully leading to creative, new experiments.

The field I represent is material sciences with a focus on interfaces under realistic conditions.

7. Artur Braun

I have become an ALS User when I joined the Environmental Energy and Technologies Division (EETD) at LBNL in 1999 as a postdoc in battery research. I was also a member of the Physical Biosciences Division in a group that developed protein spectroscopy methods. After my departure from LBNL I continued to perform experiments at the ALS – at many different beamlines on a very diverse suite of samples. Notwithstanding that, I did experiments on many other synchrotrons worldwide. But the ALS is my synchrotron home.

I have served already once on the ALS UEC in 2013 – 2015, and I served some terms at User Boards in Switzerland and Europe. I have been off such duties now for five years and want to join again the ALS UEC. I like to be on a user representation board like the UEC because I want to speak in the interests for the Users.

In our personal conduct in any role that we play, we are humans and we are prone to making errors. “An error doesn’t become a mistake until we refuse to correct it.” Therefore, as a User and as User representative, I want to make sure that when an ALS User has made any unpleasant experience, that their complaint gets heard, gets the right attention, a due course and resolution, and not only be counted as a statistical nuisance.

Beamtime is a rare product with usually more demand than offer. The Advanced Light Source as the best synchrotron on the planet – because of its overall staff! – is a great place for experimenters to try out new ideas, to come up with novel problems to solve. Those can come from people who have no background in synchrotron studies. I want this practice to continue, that newcomers get their fair share for beamtime, without jeopardizing successful programs from synchrotron “seniors” who touched gold during their ALS work and need some continued access to beamtime in a long-term programme.

Frequently, the synchrotrons are subject to consolidation procedures where end-stations are discontinued and new hardware is being brought in. ALS management has always been cautious with replacing one method by another seemingly more necessary or popular one. I support this attitude.

The ALS User Meetings in my opinion, for my taste were always exemplary and well organized. Everybody should be able to present the poster of results – or planned experiments – and run for a prize. There should be a suite of different level selected oral presentations by invited Users and external speakers. And we need the various workshops and volunteers from the community who organize them and who organize the writing of the publishable workshop reports.

8. Ming Yi

My academic career was born at the ALS. I was a first year PhD student at Stanford in April of 2008 when I drove up the hill with my mentor and saw the beautiful band structure that came out of the angle-resolved photo-emission beamline for the very first time as well as the beautiful sunset down on the bay and thought to myself, I could do this for life. I’ve been a regular user at the ALS since, and have tried out all the nice places to nap during intense all-nighters around the ring. I recently started my assistant professor position in the physics and astronomy department at Rice University this year. My main research interest is to use and enhance spectroscopy tools to understand exotic emergent electronic phases in quantum materials.

My understanding of the important areas that the UEC can contribute to serving the community is three-fold. First, I believe that with the upcoming upgrade project ALS-U, the UEC will play an important role in establishing and maintaining a platform for the user community to communicate with the ALS management to collaboratively identify the crucial elements for next generation synchrotron experiments. As a UEC member, I would help to organize workshops and zoom meetings where users discuss what their “dream experiments” would be. Second, I will help to enhance the User Meeting to not only showcase the great science that is done at the ALS, but also a channel where we can communicate with and learn from the experiences from other synchrotron communities. Third but not least, I will help to enhance the day-to-day user experience by finding options for users to obtain food at night and on the weekends, and to establish more convenient ways for young nursing parent users to meet their needs while taking beamtime.

9. Louis Piper

I first used the ALS as a wide-eyed, fresh-faced PhD student struggling with the jet lag from a 12-hour flight.  Like many others in our community, I have benefited from the access to sophisticated techniques, well-maintained facilities and experienced beamline personnel that has often made the difference between success and failure.  The ALS continues to play an important role in developing the next generation of scientists and engineers beyond the confines of its iconic building overlooking the bay. 

The UEC plays a critical role in connecting the academic community with the ALS. After more than a decade as a user (student, post-doc and faculty) I am proud to have been nominated for the UEC.  As a member, I will work to continue to foster the development of young scientists and voice the needs of academic users at the ALS. 

The ALS Doctoral Training in Residence and joint appointment LBNL post-doctoral Fellowships are exceptional programs and I am keen to assist in ensuring their continued success.  As a member, I will also strive to ensure that academia (especially tenure-track faculty and early career scientists) have a voice in the upcoming ALS-U upgrades.  Finally, my background and current research activities make me a suitable a representative for the energy storage community at the ALS(-U). 

10. Suhas Kumar

I am a Research Scientist at Hewlett Packard Labs in Palo Alto, across the bay from the ALS.  I have been a user of the ALS for nearly 10 years, as a student, post-doc and now a full-time staff in the semiconductor industry.  I lead research into new materials and physics for electronic and photonic applications in collaboration with national labs and universities.  I have used the ALS to study new electronic materials that has led to invention of new forms of computing techniques.  I would like to be on the UEC to give back to the ALS community and to represent the industry, which I believe is presently under-represented in the ALS UEC.  The ALS is a fantastic tool that can aid many industries, but it is not well known among most of my colleagues in the industry.  I can form a liaison between the industry, academia and user facilities, particularly the ALS.  I would like to aid in creating programs and specific projects that bridge science and applications, which will attract investments from the industry (e.g.: in developing new capabilities).  I would particularly like to create sessions within the User Meetings that reflect the presence of the industry and provide a liaison between DOE and the industrial user base.

11. Iryna Zenyuk

I have been a user at ALS for the past six years, as a PhD student, postdoctoral fellow and now a faculty. My group primarily uses x-ray computed tomography 8.3.2 beamline at ALS, where we image fuel cells, electrolyzers and batteries, mainly with operando experiments to understand morphology evolution under applied potentials, temperature, pressure etc. If appointed to EUC I will work on broader implementation of the “Beamtime Buddies” group, to promote ride-sharing, food accessing, and general networking, especially during the weekends, when the lab shuttles do not run. For the User Meeting program I would like to focus on science opportunities enabled by ALS-U project.