Dear Molecular Foundry Community,
It is a pleasure to write to you as the director of the Molecular Foundry. I am honored to work together with its team of world-leading scientists as we continue to collaborate with our research partners and users from across the globe to advance scientific solutions and make a difference. I want to thank David Prendergast for his stewardship as interim director. For the past year, he led the Foundry through unprecedented challenges, and I look forward to working with him through the transition period and beyond.
Berkeley Lab has been my professional home for over a decade and defined my scientific career in many positive ways. Starting from a background in modeling applications to energy storage, I found within lab the environment, team spirit and institutional support necessary to launch the Materials Project, which is now the world-leading, freely available materials data provider, reaching over 130,000 registered users. I hope to bring my passion for team-based, data-driven science to the Foundry and explore where our joint expertise, user-inspired science and partnerships can take us!
It was good to ‘see’ so many of you last week at the virtual Annual User Meeting. I’d like to thank the Molecular Foundry’s User Executive Committee (UEC), and in particular the organizing committee (Annelise Barron, Sarbajit Banerjee, and Chenhui Zhu) as well as the Foundry’s User Program Office team (Shannon Ciston, Kristen McIntosh, Tina McCoy, and Donald Lee) and Clarisa Bhargava from the Foundry Communications team for putting together such successful and stimulating event during these challenging times. I was particularly inspired by the quality and diversity of the research presented throughout the two days, but was most impressed with the energy and engagement of the community, which will inevitably lead to new ideas and growing collaborations between staff and users.
Along those lines, as we keep working towards a ‘new-normal’ of being able to conduct collaborative research safely while respecting the risks associated with COVID-19, we continue to ask for your patience as the Foundry and Berkeley Lab continue to explore the best methods to increase the number of workers on site. Since July 13, the Foundry has been able to admit some users from outside Berkeley Lab to perform research at our facilities through a shift schedule as described on our website. This pilot program was expanded on August 10, increasing the number of access slots available per day. We encourage users to explore with their assigned staff alternative paths to reach their research goals and we welcome suggestions on how to do this using online technology or remote access. As we move forward, the Foundry will be carefully considering factors such as safe maximum density as decisions are made about future expansion of access to the Foundry and Berkeley Lab. The Berkeley Lab COVID-19 information page has current information about the pilot restart.
Finally, I’d like to remind you of the upcoming user proposal call that opens this week with a deadline of October 1. In light of the travel restrictions still in place due to the ongoing pandemic, the fall call will emphasize theoretical and computational work, projects that can be completed remotely and sample-only proposals, as well as collaborative work to fight COVID-19. More information is available on our proposal call webpage. I look forward to seeing these ideas and working with you in the future.