The project, known as X-CITE (X-ray Cyberinfrastructure Training and Education) is funded by the National Science Foundation, NSF, and aims to overcome barriers that have hindered the effective utilization of computing capabilities and data resources offered by major research and user facilities.
Facilities like CHESS play a crucial role in advancing research in various science and engineering fields. These facilities provide invaluable instruments, data, modeling, computing, and physical capabilities to researchers, educators, and students. The research done at such facilities enables scientists to make groundbreaking discoveries with real world impacts in complex materials development, disease control, renewable energy technology, and much more. However, harnessing the full potential of these resources has been a challenge due to a lack of expertise in computing and data management within the overall scientific community.
“Users come to us with different computing backgrounds, and each beamline requires a different set of skills as well, so a one-size-fits-all approach just isn't going to work here,” said Werner Sun, CLASSE IT director. “Our training program is customizable. It matches each individual user with the specific training modules they need in order to have a successful experience at their particular beamline.”
The X-CITE project addresses this issue by developing a comprehensive training program tailored for scientists utilizing the CHESS synchrotron X-ray facility. Researchers from diverse fields, including materials science, physics, chemistry, biology, and environmental science will benefit from this initiative. The program includes training materials and activities designed to amplify accessibility to using CHESS instruments, data, and tools while also facilitating access to national computing resources and services provided by NSF.
The five thematic areas covered by the X-CITE training program include programming essentials, systems fundamentals, distributed computing within the cyberinfrastructure (CI) ecosystem, X-ray science software, and issues of data curation and FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) principles. These training resources are delivered through various modes such as self-paced learning with notebooks, videos, and CI catalogs, as well as through office hours, in-person instruction sessions, CHESS user workshops, and tutorials at domain-specific conferences.
X-CITE aims to foster a sense of scientific community by establishing a coordination network that brings together different domain science communities, similar user facilities, and national CI resource providers. This network will work to disseminate and promote the training materials, communicate the CI needs of the X-ray science community, and exchange best practices for CI training. By doing so, X-CITE seeks to reduce the time-to-science for scientists utilizing X-ray facilities and democratize access by accelerating the adoption of CI tools and resources.
This project has been recognized as having both intellectual merit and broader impacts, aligning with NSF's criteria for funding. X-CITE is expected to increase CI skills, awareness, and literacy among X-ray science researchers, benefiting trainees with limited CI expertise, individuals from underrepresented communities, and scientists representing a wide range of disciplines.
With the X-CITE project, the scientific community at CHESS is poised to harness more research potential from beam time, transforming data into insights and knowledge to drive scientific innovations in synchrotron X-ray science and beyond.