Dear Molecular Foundry Community,
On March 24, the Molecular Foundry will celebrate the 14th anniversary of opening its doors to users from around the world. For those of us who have been here for a while, it is amazing to look back and recognize how far we have come since those early days, when staff outnumbered users and everything was shiny and new. Since their creation, the Nanoscale Science Research Centers (NSRCs) have been more than a network of five user facilities; they represent an innovative new way to do collaborative science. I think it is fair to say that this experiment has been a success.
Over these 14 years of embracing the user facility model, our amazing staff, together with the evolving user community, and with the support of the Department of Energy and our broader community, have established the Molecular Foundry as a leading center for nanoscale research, serving more than 1,000 users per year. With our multidisciplinary user facility model established, the Foundry has reached a certain level of organizational maturity. However, that does not mean we are content. In early February, the entire Foundry staff spent two days at our annual staff retreat where we discussed the future of the center. The retreat proved that we are just as committed to our mission and to innovation as ever, and we look forward to the challenges that come with a more established organization.
As we grow, it is important for us to uphold our values. Chief among them is safety. I am very proud of our safety culture at the Foundry, but we do face challenges. Our sizeable user population is both scientifically diverse and transient, making for a very complex safety portfolio. For example, January’s wall-to-wall chemical inventory was an all-hands-on-deck exercise that took three full weeks and covered over 11,000 chemical containers at the Foundry alone. That’s more than the entirety of chemicals managed by some National Laboratories! I want to thank everyone for their efforts in this extremely important activity and encourage everyone to continue to be engaged and vigilant in your work.
Along these same lines, I want to thank you for your attention to the COVID-19 announcements circulated by the Foundry, Berkeley Lab, and public health officials. The spread of the novel coronavirus is a serious and dynamic situation which impacts us all. We are committed to clarity and transparency as we take necessary precautions to safeguard the health of our staff and users. There is nothing more important than your safety.
Of course, safety is not limited to physical safety. The psychological safety of our community is also paramount, especially in a center built to support and encourage collaboration. This extends beyond our own actions, too. It requires all of us to be active participants in supporting the healthy culture that we all value by standing up for others. During the staff retreat, we practiced tools to help us more effectively identify corrosive behavior and be part of the solution. This is not an easy thing to do, but it is essential to who we want to be. I encourage each of you to think about how you can be an ‘upstander’ in your circle.
Thank you for joining me on this journey. The Molecular Foundry is a very special and exciting place with a very bright future. At the same time, we are always actively looking for ways to improve, and I welcome each and every one of you to be a part of that process.
Speaking of joining us… the deadline for our Spring proposal call is April 2, and we look forward to seeing your ideas.