ALS UEC Elections 2020

Here are the candidates for the new members of the Advanced Light Source Users’ Executive Committee for the 2021–2024 term.  
(note: the order of the candidates has been shuffled with a random number generator.)

The election is now closed. Thanks for participating!

  • 2 new members to serve a three-year term (2021-2023)
  • 1 new student member to serve a two-year term (2021-2022)

1. Daniel Sunday

My research involves developing new methods to characterize soft matter in thin films. My primary focus has been on using soft X-rays to interrogate composition and orientation distribution in polymer films. As a result, I have experience with a variety of facilities including the ALS, APS, NSLS, NCNR and Elettra and am a routine user of the soft X-ray beamlines at the ALS.

Amongst my goals as a member of the UEC will be to work with the beamline scientists to promote the development of new methods for beamline access. The challenges of conducting research during the pandemic show how multiple access methods are important for optimizing beamline usage. Remote access and automation should be considered wherever possible in order to improve the user experience.

2. Connor G. Bischak

As a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington, the ALS plays a vital role in my research. I primarily use beamline 7.3.3 to interrogate structural changes in conjugated polymers and small molecule organic semiconductors when ions are injected electrochemically.

As a member of the UEC, I am excited to serve as a liaison between staff scientists and users during the upcoming ALS-U upgrade. I am also interested in facilitating additional remote access opportunities for new and current ALS users during the COVID-19 pandemic. I would also like to facilitate groups of staff scientists and users aimed at designing sample platforms for in situ measurements that are compatible with multiple beamlines.

Finally, as a non-local ALS user and long-time user at the Molecular Foundry, I believe I will bring a unique perspective to planning upcoming ALS User Meetings, introducing new users to the resources and opportunity at the ALS, and continuing to foster equity and inclusion at the ALS.

3. Inna Vishik

I am an assistant professor at UC Davis, and my group studies emergent electronic phenomena in quantum materials using a wide variety of spectroscopic tools.  Experiments at the ALS have been a key part of my research since my PhD, spanning several beamlines (7.0.2, 4.0.3, 10.0.1, 9.3.1).  Interacting with the staff scientists, postdocs, students, and other users who make up this research community is one of the great joys of being an ALS user, and enhancing these interactions for everyone is my motivation to serve on the UEC.

The past year has brought many changes to how we perform and disseminate synchrotron research. As a member of the UEC, I would facilitate improvements to virtual engagement, which is likely to continue to some degree beyond Covid.  The success of the 2020 ALS user meeting showed that this event can translate virtually.  Going forward, a hybrid online/in-person user meeting can include the global user community while also allowing in-person interaction for those who prefer it.  As a member of the UEC, I would organize more activities serving students, postdocs, and other early career researchers.  One of my plans is a beamtime proposal writing workshop, involving both a panel discussion with beamline scientists and reviewers and some components where the audience participates in reading, editing, or writing short portions of proposals. 

The tutorials offered as part of the user meeting have been incredibly useful for my new graduate students, and a larger audience in a hybrid meeting would allow for more and smaller tutorials.  In particular, senior graduate students and postdocs could give a short tutorial on a specialized technique they have used/developed.  I would also work to enhance communication between researchers and beamline scientists for planning and execution of remote experiments. Looking ahead to the dark period when ALS will be shut down for the ALS-U upgrade, this infrastructure of virtual engagement will allow to maintain connections and knowledge transfer among the community.  Finally, we all look forward to resuming valuable in-person interaction at the ALS when it is safe, and as a long-time bay area resident, I would curate a list of local resources and attractions from our visitors from afar who have extra time before or after their beamtime. 

4. Luca Moreschini

My experience at the ALS started during my postdoc contract when I worked at the ESF beamline, which then grew up to become MAESTRO in its adult age. During my PhD I had occasionally measured at other synchrotrons, and mainly the ESRF in Grenoble and the now-dismissed SRC in Madison, Wisconsin, but it’s at the ALS that I really got to experience the “synchrotron life”. I worked on angle resolved photoemission on correlated oxides, but instead of getting samples from professional growers we decided to make things a bit more complicated and to grow them ourselves with a pulsed laser deposition setup, which is still now visible on your right when you enter the ALS floor from the lobby. In the last three years I was at Cornell where I built a new laboratory for ARPES on films grown in situ by molecular beam epitaxy.

I would like the UEC to have an approach as customized as possible to the different groups and beamlines. I learned during all these years that the various beamlines or even endstations within a single beamline have very different requirements and needs in terms of user support, ideal duration of a beamtime for successfully completing an experiment, or proposal selection. These issues will become even more relevant with the upcoming ALS-U and, at least in the short term, with the challenges we are facing due to the pandemic. I would also like to see, if possible, some effort on the logistic side to make the users access to the ALS easier during the weekends, with at least a couple of shuttle rides per day.

5. Roopali Kukreja

I am an assistant professor at Materials Science and Engineering department at UC Davis. My research focuses on ultrafast dynamics in nanoscale magnetic and electronic materials, x-ray spectroscopy and imaging techniques, thin film deposition and device fabrication. Synchrotrons sources and x-ray beamlines are the key pillars of my group’s research. I have been an active user at the ALS since 2010 and have worked at Beamlines 4.0.2, 6.1.2, 6.3.1 and 11.0.1. I am also involved in ALS effort to develop the COSMIC (Coherent Scattering and Microscopy) beamline. In addition, I have also worked at NSLS-II, APS, SSRL, LCLS and XFEL.

As a UEC member, I would like to organize more activities focusing on bringing different users groups working on the same instrument together to promote exchanges of ideas, experimental and technical issues and respective solutions, as well as identifying crucial experimental requirements. Especially, in the current times of covid, feedback and experiences of user will be extremely important in ensuring successful experiments and collaborations during remote operation and going forward, for the ALS-U upgrade. One of my plans would involve organizing focus group virtual zoom sessions for users especially students and postdocs working on similar instrument to discuss successes and challenges of beamline operation.

I have really enjoyed participating in ALS user meeting, and it has been a great learning experience for my students. Specifically, this year, the virtual meeting platform enabled participation of students and postdocs who typically have limited funds for travel. Going forward, I would like to plan for hybrid operation (after covid) so students and postdocs across broader fields can still have access to valuable workshops and helpful discussions at ALS user meeting. I am excited about this great opportunity to be part of the UEC, and will like to use this as a means to strongly advocate for the user community.

6. Rourav Basak

Being a condensed matter experimentalist, since my Masters, I had been associated with Advanced Light Source. During my first beamtime at RiXS endstation at beamline 8, I loved working with beamline scientists who shared our enthusiasm and despair of finding excitations. Later I have participated in the User meetings of ALS (2019,2020) where I participated in ALS 101 tutorial series in 2019, and a couple of workshops in 2020. They were fantastic. Now I am working on developing novel experimental methods as well as planning experiments with currently practiced cutting-edge experimental methods for hard condensed matter, especially antiferromagnetism as part of my ongoing PhD training. I have experiences of multiple beamtimes in the Advanced Light Source and Advanced Photon Source.

As a part of UEC I would like to address broad issues such as user convenience and accessibility during an experiment, and extremely specific issues such as easing out the learning curve for experimental techniques (eg more annual online and method specific tutorial/workshop series as follow-up on ALS 101) to facilitate collaboration among diverse fields. From a graduate student perspective, I feel having a stackoverflow type of website under the ALS website for each topical interest cross-linked with beamlines and the beamline staffs will be of extreme benefit. Most importantly with the ALS-U right around the corner, I would like to organise topical workshops during the annual user meeting directed along the transformative opportunities ALS-U is going to offer to the users. I will personally be interested in the track of coherence in light and matter. I would love to volunteer to gauge user expectations, connect them to beamline scientists and finally design workshops which will help the community to push the scientific limit to the extent it is possible.

7. Eric Meshot

My interests in joining the UEC are informed by a spirit of service and the opportunity to give back to my synchrotron community.  We are in a 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.  Tackling the most challenging and vital scientific questions for society requires the most innovative thinking, which is not born out of isolated groups, so I would be dedicated to fostering the inclusion of a diverse pool of users.

I am a staff scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and have been an active user at the ALS since 2014 – with experience at CHESS, APS, NSLS-I/II, LCLS and other user facilities such as the Molecular Foundry.  My team primarily uses 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 nanostructured materials and interfaces spanning diverse length scales.  We have also happily discovered the power of soft X-ray microscopy (5.3.2) as a complementary spatiochemical probe.  My broad experience both across user facilities and within the ALS different beamlines has given me a great understanding and reverence for how the user model can boost the impact of one’s research

8. Yu He

I became an ALS user in the fall of 2010, when I freshly came off the boat and was just about to embark on a new journey as a physics graduate student. What I didn’t realize was that I’d spend the next ten years working thousands of hours across beamline,, and the LBL Materials Sciences Division, investigating the mechanism of high-Tc superconductivity with photoemission and x-ray scattering techniques.

As a long-time beneficiary of public user facilities and now an assistant professor at Yale University, I feel duty-bound to engage and serve the user community, especially during times of planned or unplanned disruptions. Drawing from my first-hand experiences from both synchrotron and neutron facilities worldwide, I hope to help improve the efficiency and sustainability of beamline-user collaboration both remotely and in-person, and promote the long-term impact of our community beyond publications. Specifically, institutional collaborations shall be made more open and accessible via more novice-oriented tutorials and more streamlined online learning/documentation. User-driven knowledge sharing opportunities beyond the conference-style user meeting will be facilitated to forge lasting connections and increase public visibility. I am also eager to advocate for more comprehensive and flexible remote experiment protocols, especially for those who are disadvantaged accessing resources remotely and for the strained beamline staff. Last but not least, I am committed to engaging our community in steering the future directions of ALS, including the ALS-U project.

9. Greg Hura

The ALS beamlines, staff, and administration have enabled a fantastic national resource capable of providing novel insights into almost any material and at any scale. I believe that the ALS can continue to serve as a national resource while carrying forward maintenance and upgrades at the same time. Tension of course exists between varying priorities. The next UEC, will help set the balance by voicing user excitement over currently enabled and possible future science.

Over the course of 20 years’ experience as both a graduate student beamline user (physical chemistry) and a beamline scientist (molecular biologist) I’ve gotten to know the ALS very well. I am a strong proponent of application-based synchrotron development. As a member of the UEC I will be a strong advocate of user focused development and application of the ALS.