ALS UEC Elections 2023

Nominations are open for ALS UEC Election 2023
Please have a look at the announcement page for more details

Deadline: Decemer 1st, 2022

Please vote here.

Here are the nominations for the 2023 election of the Advanced Light Source Users’ Executive Committee.
(note: the order of the candidates has been shuffled with a random number generator.)

1. Whitney Loo

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Wisconsin Madison where my research group focuses on leveraging novel polymer-based materials to promote a more sustainable future. I have been an ALS user since 2016 and have conducted some of my most exciting research at the ALS during hours between dusk and dawn. My postdoctoral research at University of Chicago and the Molecular Foundry as well as my PhD research at UC Berkeley relied heavily on the X-ray scattering capabilities at the ALS. 

As a member of the ALS User Executive Committee, I hope to serve the soft matter and X-ray scattering research communities by advocating for their interests to the ALS and DOE Leadership, particularly by navigating the upcoming changes presented by the ALS-U project. In addition, I want to amplify the voices of early career researchers and ensure that they help shape the future of the ALS.

2. Alexander Baker

I’m a materials physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and have been coming to ALS for 10 years – initially making long transatlantic flights from the University of Oxford/Diamond Light Source, and now the slightly more manageable car drive from the tri-valley. I started out doing XMCD on 4.02/6.3.1, but have since been working my way around the ring, including tomography at 8.3.2, STXM at 5.3.2 and 11.0.2, and XAS at 7.3.1 and 8.0.1. My research spans reduced rare-earth permanent magnets, tensile properties of carbon nanotubes, chemical signatures for nuclear forensics – and a bunch of other topics as new and exciting projects come up. I’ve been fortunate to collaborate closely with beamline scientists and LBNL staff on technique development, and have been a part of several approved programs.

On the UEC I hope to help create space and opportunity for everyone to build out these collaborations. ALS is at its best when users and local staff can work together to develop new ideas. Be it novel measurement schemes, new data handling approaches, or upgraded sample transfer capabilities; innovation in these areas drives groundbreaking science. Success of a beamtime is often determined well before the first photon strikes a sample, so strengthening relationships with new and long-time users will strengthen the quality of the science produced. This can be done through workshops, how-to guides, or community building within the users of a given beamline. My goal is to ensure everyone has the tools and resources they need to succeed.

3. Lenart Dudy

I have been a user of the ALS since my postdoc in 2008. I have primarily used BL4 and BL7. My research involves the electronic properties of surfaces and interfaces, including solid-state physics and surface chemistry. Also, thanks to the experience I gained at the ALS, I am meanwhile the principal beamline scientist at the TEMPO beamline at Synchrotron SOLEIL in France.

I want to join the UEC to improve the conditions for the users. One issue bothered me recently: Recently, relatively complicated administrative procedures have been introduced for foreign users regarding on-site access to ALS. Isn’t there a better solution for the administrative process? However, other issues will surely come as the ALS-U proceeds, which I am unaware of now. So it will be very interesting for me to help to solve them constructively.

4. Bora Kalkan

I am a COMPRES (the Consortium for Materials Properties Research in Earth Sciences) beamline scientist at beamline 12.2.2 (Synchrotron X-ray diffraction under non-ambient conditions) at ALS employed by UCSC. My current research focuses on projects to understand the role of extreme conditions (high pressure and high temperature) on the atomic structure controlling the physical and mechanical properties of a wide range of technologically important systems and terrestrial materials. I also serve as user support and for designing, fabricating, testing and executing various sample environments and characterization setups for in-situ experiments.

My first experiment at ALS-beamline 12.2.2 was in late 2009, and since that time I have been a part of the ALS community with different roles, such as post-doc, project scientist, and now beamline scientist. In my current role as a part of the ALS -COMPRES enterprise, I feel that a strong community (user)-based consortium, with a mission of supporting research and pursuing world class research, can contribute to the scientific program, facility development and staffing of a user facility. In conjunction with the upcoming ALS-U upgrade and its technical benefits, we can anticipate having to accommodate an enhanced number of users under the ALS dome, which would also bring some other possibilities such as new scientific directions, collaborations, experimental needs and related solutions, and alternative funding resources. In addition, this would provide a prime opportunity to strengthen and expand the recently started PR/lobbying work with US congress and DOE operatives. If elected to the UEC, I am motivated to further pursue and strengthen these avenues.

5. Tamas Varga

I am a scientist at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) at PNNL. My background is in solid state chemistry/physics and materials science, while my research today focuses on biogeochemistry and environmental science. I am interested in applying x-ray techniques to investigate biogeochemical transformations that occur in the environment, especially in soil. My expertise lies in x-ray imaging, spectroscopies, and diffraction. One of my current projects aims to understand how soil pore structure affects the stability and transport of soil organic matter. Having worked at a DOE User Facility for 13 years, I have extensive interactions with users and a lot of the user projects I am involved in utilize multiple instruments and methods to address important questions in environmental and biological science.

I have been fascinated with synchrotron facilities since my first encounter with the Advanced Photon Source (APS) in 2001. I admire these dedicated facilities that serve science and discovery while promoting learning and collaboration. I have been doing experiments at synchrotrons ever since and have been a user at ALS, APS, CHESS, NSLS-II, and SSRL. As a user support scientist and a long-time user of synchrotron user facilities, I believe that I can contribute to the mission of the UEC. Specifically, I would like to help promote collaboration between user facilities such as EMSL and ALS and enable dialogue between biological and environmental researchers and the synchrotron community, especially beamline scientists. I believe that the instruments available at the ALS can play an even greater role in BER science and I would like to work on making the ALS beamlines known and accessible to an even wider user base.

6. Leonid Sheps

I am a staff scientist at Sandia National Lab, based in Livermore, CA, and I have been a user at the ALS Chemical Dynamics beamline (9.0.2) since 2010. My research uses time-resolved photoionization mass spectrometry to probe gas-phase chemical reactions of importance to combustion and atmospheric chemistry. The ability to distinguish chemical isomers by tunable synchrotron VUV photoionization gives unparalleled insights into complex chemistry and working at the ALS has been a real highlight of my career so far.

As a member of the UEC, I want to ensure productive communication between the ALS users and the ALS-U project. The upgrade will bring new opportunities as well as some associated challenges to several existing beamlines (including in sectors 5, 9, and 12, and possibly others). One of my goals is to help the ALS user community make the most of the new capabilities afforded by ALS-U, as well as understand and mitigate possible negative impacts.

Another goal for me is to facilitate the overall user experience, especially as it relates to proposal submission and review, site access, and badging. The ALS is a tremendous scientific resource, and I want to make sure it is fully accessible to all users, including those who come from abroad and may face increased logistical or scheduling difficulties.

7. Joseph H. Koo

Recently I have used the ALS beamline 8.3.2 facility to characterize the microstructures of traditional and novel materials that our research group is developing for DoD and NASA. I am a Research Professor at The University of Texas at Austin, Walker Mechanical Engineering Department, Austin, TX. My research group specializes in “R&D of Polymer Nanocomposites Technology for Extreme Environments.” We have conducted two shifts of micro-CT experiments of more than 80 materials to explore the fiber preforms, virgin ablators, and char ablators. We achieved successful results from the microstructures data and coupled these with the NASA PuMA software to calculate the material properties of these materials. The results are providing us with insight for material R&D in terms of processing and fabrication, material response and heat transfer modeling, and aerothermal ablation testing for thermal protection systems (TPS) applications. Additional “Pyrolysis studies of the above TPS materials” are planned in 2023.

As a UEC member, my goal is to increase the visibility of scientific accomplishments at the ALS to other potential material science users in the DoD and NASA communities. As members of several advisory boards, such as National Space and Missile Material Symposium (NSMMS) and The Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE ®), I will be a strong advocate for ALS. I will first start with students in my research group to educate the next generation of scientists and engineers using the ALS facilities for their research. They will be strong voices and advocates as ALS users in their presentations and publications and to reach out for more potential ALS users. Through these outreach activities to other government agencies, large corporations, and academic institutions, I may help UEC to engage in more policy and lobbying activities to alleviate the underfunded problems of the ALS. My research group members will be actively involved in future ALS User Meetings to broaden their knowledge of other ALS test facilities and enhance their research activities. I am also committed to engaging with our technical community in steering future directions and collaboration of ALS-U projects.

8. Angelic Lucero

I started working on BL 6.1.2 as an undergraduate student in June 1998. After graduation, I continued at the beamline as the main user contact (acquiring and processing data) until March 2004 when I was hired by the ALS as an Accelerator Operator in the Control Room. As an operator, my top concern is personnel safety and a close second priority is maximizing beam time available for all beamlines.

As a former beamline staff member and a current ALS operations staff member, I believe I can offer a unique perspective for the rest of the UEC members and help support UEC goals on behalf of all users.

9. Michal Hammel

In 2006 I was recruited to the SIBYLS group at ALS to integrate small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and macromolecular X-ray crystallography. My effort as the principal beamline scientist at the SIBYLS beamline (BL12.3.1) makes the SAXS technique accessible to more investigators. We have been the first to create a high throughput SAXS capability and established a mail-in program to collect SAXS data that become important in the structural determination of SASR- CoV2 proteins to address the COVID19 crisis. As a research scientist at the LBNL, my research focuses on manipulating transcription by DNA control elements. I use the suite of ALS (8.3.1, 12.3.1, 2.1) to integrate x-ray crystal structures, SAXS, and soft x-ray imaging that span from protein-DNA complexes to the bacterial chromosome.

I am interested in joining the UEC to help evolve a cross-talk between the bioscience user community and ALS-U management. I would like to help the user community to participate in the vision and plans for ALS-U and engage the bioscience community in ALS Operating Schedule before the dark period. I would also like to support and collaborate with the Advanced Photon Source (APS) and other synchrotrons to provide structural biology facilities during the APS dark period (2023) and the ALS dark period (late 2025).

10. 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 pandemics. 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.

11. Devin Grabner

I am a fourth-year graduate student in the Dept. of Physics and Astronomy at Washington State University. My work primarily focuses on developing In-Situ liquid flow capabilities for carbon edge Polarized Resonant Soft X-ray Scattering at beamline I also assist with experiments at 5.3.2 and 7.3.3. I enjoy working at the ALS as a user and assisting with training new users while simultaneously learning about the exciting science that ALS capabilities provide them. While having been a user for only a short four years, I look forward to a long career as part of the ALS user community.

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic created challenges and hindered progress on many research projects, it also provided opportunities. The increased capabilities of remote work have offered extra chances to train users who usually would not have the opportunity due to travel costs. Though complex in-situ experiments can be near to and sometimes impossible to run remotely, the improved remote capabilities have allowed us to grow our user base. In the last few years, I have noticed issues at the ALS develop due to chronic underfunding of beamline infrastructure, which will, long term, hinder the potential growth of users. In addition, the ALS-U upgrade will present additional difficulties in maintaining users due to the shutdown length and the commissioning time required to get current beamlines back up and running. As part of the UEC, I want to help improve planning for a smooth transition of ALS users to other synchrotrons with a planned route back to the ALS, ultimately minimizing the loss of users.

12. Suhas Kumar

I have spent more than a decade as an affiliate of the ALS, where I lead in-situ studies on how memristors (modern memory resistors) work. In the past, I built in-situ electrical measurement systems and micro heaters for scanning transmission x-ray microscopes (STXMs) at the ALS, which have been used by multiple groups. My association with the ALS has taken various forms: student user, participant in user meetings, principal investigator, advisor to ALS students, mentor for ALS doctoral fellows, invited speaker at the user meetings, etc.

I will be honored to give back to the ALS by sitting on the UEC, as a representative voice of early career scientists. I bring two visions, both driven by personal experiences. First, by establishing procedural frameworks, I seek to enhance collaborations for capability development. There are many graduate students and postdocs in other institutions who are eager to build tools for a thesis. Collaborating with them outside of the usual proposal process can benefit the ALS by augmenting our limited internal staffing via external students to perform high-risk high-reward instrumentation R&D. Second, I seek to encourage more in-situ measurements. Despite the benefits of in-situ measurements, most users don’t try those because their beamline scientists don’t offer them such tools. While individual user groups (like mine) have built highly sophisticated setups, it is not known to other users and, often, not even to the beamline scientist. I seek to create dedicated forums for groups to share their in-situ designs and setups, which, at the least, are usable for most users of the same tool, and frequently, on many other tools as well.

13. Sophie Morley

I’m currently a beamline scientist at the Advanced Light Source on the coherent soft x-ray scattering beamline Our focus is on electronic and magnetic ordering of materials and their dynamics. Part of my PhD was funded by Diamond Light Source in the UK which is where I got my first behind-the-scenes experience of a synchrotron. I’ve also experienced it many times as a user, starting with the ALS in 2012, as well as NSLS-II and SOLEIL. My research also involved work at other user facilities such as Molecular Foundry, CFN (Brookhaven) and CNF (Argonne). This means I am acutely aware of the value of feedback and communication flow between the user community and the facility. I want to ensure that is done in the most efficient and useful way which benefits all parties.

I am excited for the ALS upgrade and the new science which will be enabled but I am also aware that during this term on the UEC we will be working a lot to secure the best transition possible. Luckily, we are not the only big facility upgrade and I hope we can gather lessons learned from recent examples such as the APS and LCLS. All our efforts should help retain and build an even wider future user community at the ALS. I am also interested in thinking about how facilities can benefit from the technological enhancements allowing more remote work whilst continuing to train and serve the next generation of scientists. I am an evidence and solution-based person, and I will endeavour to bring those values to my work on the UEC.

14. Aiden Coffey

I’ve been working with synchrotrons since my doctoral work looking at thin film formation. My efforts have focused on photovoltaic materials; specifically, how conjugated ligand incorporation into halide perovskites affect orientation and charge transport. By using the GIWAXS Beamline at the ALS (BL 7.3.3), I’ve been able to elucidate better methods to create high efficiency solar materials. I have now continued at the ALS as a Postdoctoral Fellow and I am working to develop multimodal in situ systems to better understand thin film formations, utilizing both GIWAXS and GISAXS.

The opportunity to serve on the UEC is exciting as it would allow me to be even more engaged with the ALS community. I seek to aid in helping develop the future for the ALS, both by addressing challenges users face while on beamtime and also expanding the user-network for the ALS. This will be an important step to ensure a large user-base is maintained during the ALS- U upgrade. Part of what I would like to see is outputting better information on tools and techniques to lower institutional barriers for collaborators that may not use the ALS frequently. Bringing in new collaborations while maintaining current ones gives the best chance to lead to more significant scientific discoveries. It would be my honor to be a part of this and much more as a UEC member.