Greg Hura: July 2011 Archives
We have been operating our SAXS mail-in/hand-in program for 6 months - 3 cycles of ALS proposals. The beamline and its staff are dedicated to developing and applying technologies and methodologies which combine SAXS and crystallography. Interacting with an extensive and robust external user community is a critical component of this development. Our mission for the mail-in/hand-in program is to provide SAXS data to users at as high or higher quality than if users were to come to the beamline and collect these data sets themselves. We believe this is possible since the data collection is now fast and the beamline interface has grown necessarily complex. Beamline staff which develop the interface are more likely to optimize data collection and spot problems earlier than most users. We initiated this program as we were no longer able to meet the growing demand for beamtime with all users coming on-site for data collection. Most users who participated in this program would not have been able to collect data at SIBYLS were it not for the mail-in/hand-in program.
We have conducted a survey of labs that have used the modality of SIBYLS to provide feedback - which we take very seriously. This should help inform new interested labs on how the system works. In addition we will compare input from future surveys against this one as a measure of progress. The number of labs which have gained access to SAXS data collection at SIBYLS has increased 10-fold.
We have significant room to grow and improve the system as highlighted by several users in our survey. Aside from developing the infrastructure for trouble free collection, a challenge is balancing the most easily implemented one size fits all approach with some user adjustablility. We hope to incorporate more flexibility for users as we develop. While the system has not been entirely trouble free - given the programs novelty, we are pleased with the feedback and encouraged that the mail-in/hand-in program is usefully continued. For example most users indicated they would use the mail-in/hand-in system again and a substantial number have papers in preparation based on data collected at the beamline. The survey and its results can be viewed by clicking the link below.