At Cornell, the fall semester began on September 2nd with a hybrid approach to teaching (in-person and online), robust virus testing, and modifications to the academic calendar allowing students to return home for Thanksgiving and then finish the semester on-line. Cornell provides information on its web site related to COVID-19 and the status Cornell Ithaca campus.
At CHESS, the accelerator start up began on September 9th after the facility was shut down for approximately 10 weeks for its scheduled summer maintenance period. This week beamline commissioning will start to test newly installed beamline upgrades and optimize beamline performance for the upcoming experimental run. Starting Sept. 23rd, CHESS users will be able to take data remotely at CHESS beamlines. Cornell University is significantly restricting visits to campus by individuals not part of the residential Cornell community through the fall semester. Therefore, out-of-town users will not be allowed to visit CHESS but will be supported via remote and mail-in capabilities. Remote operation is a new mode for the majority of the CHESS beamlines. Detailed planning and testing went into preparing for this new access mode during the summer shut down. The new “Remote Access User Guide” is available online. It provides information about
- how to prepare for remote experiments at CHESS, e.g. how to ship samples to CHESS
- required online training that has to be completed prior to the beamtime.
- how to test login on a CHESS station computer prior to beamtime
- the new REmote ACcess Help system (REACH) that allows users to contact the CHESS operator for help and support during remote experiments.
While we will not be able to recreate fully the experience of doing in person experiments at CHESS in the new remote access mode, we will provide access to the unique experimental capabilities at the facility and support the research programs of our scientific community. CHESS users and staff will gain important experience in performing experiments remotely which will allow us to improve and expand remote operations and remote capabilities for future experimental runs.
On Thursday, September 17th, at 1pm (EDT), CHESS will hold an online town hall meeting to introduce and demonstrate the new remote access capabilities. The Zoom link is here.
Last but not least this newsletter features several science highlights and other updates:
- After more than 32 years of research at CHESS, Ken Finkelstein retired from the facility. Ken reviewed a few of his accomplishments as part of a farewell presentation on August 28th and many of his colleagues used the opportunity to express their appreciation for Ken’s contributions to synchrotron science and shared many anecdotes about Ken’s activities at CHESS.
- The accelerator group continues to develop methods of improving beam stability across different spatial and temporal scales. An update can be found here.
- To study how protein structures are impacted by external pressure a team of researchers developed a novel diamond anvil cell optimized for the study of macromolecules at external pressures up to 12kbar at the NSF, NIH and NY State supported FlexX beamline.
We will continue to provide updates on CHESS operations under what we expect to be changing pandemic conditions through the CHESS web site, this newsletter, and by email.
Joel Brock, Director, CHESS
Elke Arenholz, Associate Director, CHESS