Dear Molecular Foundry Users,
As we begin a new year, full of promise, we take a moment to reflect on the remarkable experiences we have had together in 2021. Your science and community engagement continue to be a source of energy and inspiration for the Molecular Foundry staff as we all weather this pandemic. We look forward to continued collaboration as we work together to do impactful science in 2022.
Thank you to all users who took some time to complete the FY 2021 User Survey. User feedback is a priority for the Department of Energy, and for Molecular Foundry staff as well. Our staff have reviewed your responses, and your feedback is insightful. Here we share a summary of the survey results, and some of our progress toward your suggestions.
This year, the Foundry again rated high on user marks for four operational and five culture questions:
- 92% were very satisfied or satisfied about the fraction of the year the Foundry operates
- 93% were very satisfied or satisfied about scheduling and instrument availability
- 95% were very satisfied or satisfied about the performance of equipment and facilities
- 97% were very satisfied or satisfied about user support provided by facility staff
- 91% strongly agree or agree that the culture at Molecular Foundry is enriching and scientifically stimulating
- 90% strongly agree or agree that they feel safe to speak up, share ideas, and contribute to discussions
- 82% strongly agree or agree that they feel like they belong at the Molecular Foundry
- 93% strongly agree or agree that all users are made to feel welcome
- 95% strongly agree or agree that all users and staff are treated fairly and with respect
Ratings in nearly every category were consistent or clearly trending upward compared to those from previous years, which is particularly notable given the challenges to access, travel, and collaboration that we’ve all faced during the pandemic. Just one item, ‘belonging’ shows a slight downward trend, with a 2021 rating similar to that reported in 2020, and a bit lower than in 2019. We believe that this reflects broad trends in workplace belonging amid the pandemic.
User responses to these questions and others revealed a high degree of consistency in the quality of the user experience across our seven technical facilities. Furthermore, comments on what is working well at the Molecular Foundry emphasized the marvelous staff and the service they provide to users. These responses are reassuring that we are meeting our goals to provide users with access to world-class instrumentation and scientific expertise, all delivered with a focus on excellent user service.
In any opportunity to gather your feedback, user suggestions for improvement are essential to keep us growing in our mission. Here are some of our responses to your suggestions:
- Fostering community and belonging: Several users described a difficulty with feeling a sense of being part of a community, or a loss of connection, due to pandemic restrictions. Staying connected with one another during the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging. We value the sense of community at the Foundry, and the intellectual and cultural exchange that this community provides. We continue to advocate for user access to the Foundry site and to remote tools, user travel to the site, and in-person meetings and gatherings when and where those are safe and approved. We invite users to consider signing up for the new User Buddy Program to be matched with another user with similar interests, and we hope you will join in our virtual Molecular Foundry Seminar Series. We have begun planning for the 2022 User Meeting, and we hope to have robust user engagement. Please watch for email announcements from the Molecular Foundry to learn about additional opportunities to engage with one another.
- Training: When providing feedback on training, including safety training, several users mentioned that training can be hard to schedule, and others said the training requirement went beyond what they need for their work at the Foundry. Our multidisciplinary nanoscience center takes safety training very seriously, and we have a number of formal training requirements. We will continue to make sure that all users are working safely with Foundry resources. We are reviewing our training processes to look for opportunities to personalize or streamline training where possible. We have recently implemented video training modules for some Foundry tools.
- Staff communication: A few users described a lack of availability or communication during the COVID pandemic. We acknowledge that staff-user communication has been hampered by the impacts of the pandemic. Staff value open and clear communication with users, but it can be a struggle to keep the communication flowing when we lose the efficiency of quick conversations in the hallway or lab. We ask for your patience as we try to set aside intentional time for responding to questions that come in via email. Please keep reaching out, and feel free to explore different modes of communication by asking staff if they have a preferred channel to get a quick response. The User Program Office can advocate for you as well, so feel free to reach out to us for assistance.
- Highlighting postdocs: A few users asked for improved web content relating to the work of Foundry postdocs. Postdoctoral researchers are an important part of Foundry internal- and user science. We are exploring possibilities to better feature our postdocs and their work. For example, we are encouraging staff scientists to list postdoc names and projects on their research pages, and we are working on determining the best way to list the names of all Molecular Foundry postdocs on the Foundry website.
We thank you sincerely for your feedback and your partnership in the exciting work of nanoscience research! Please feel free to reach out to your assigned scientist or the Foundry User Program Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions. If you have recently wrapped up a user project, you are invited to complete our FY 2022 User Survey. We look forward to hearing from you.
Shannon Ciston, PhD
User Program Director