Dear Foundry Community,
Honestly, I never thought that after two years I’d still be writing about the pandemic, but these are the times we’re living in. However, as we put the Omicron surge behind us, we have been welcoming staff and users back onsite, and we are hopeful that an even greater amount of normalcy at Berkeley Lab could return as soon as mid-March.
The past two years have been a time of great changes. But one thing that hasn’t been changed by the pandemic is our drive to be an respectful, collaborative, and impactful research institution at the leading edge of nanoscale science. The Molecular Foundry prioritizes a variety of thought, experiences, perspectives, values, and expertise, critical to the success of our scientific mission and the continued growth of our collaborative user ecosystem. We have and continue to constantly work with and get feedback from our stakeholders, like the DOE, our users, and the Foundry’s Scientific Advisory Board, and have outlined the actions we will take to advance the equity and inclusion at all levels within our organization in our recently updated DEI Strategic Plan. Already, many activities are underway, including an in depth analysis of the Foundry’s current and historical collaborations with researchers from Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), participation in internship programs that support students from underserved populations, and the development of an outreach plan to build awareness of the Foundry among students and researchers at MSIs across the country.
A key element of increasing diversity and inclusion at the Foundry is working to enable fair access to our broader community. One ‘silver lining’ from the past few years that I am very proud of is the resilience and creativity of our staff in finding new ways to build collaborations. The end result is a suite of new investments, programs, and protocols that have and will continue to enable greater interactions and impact with researchers who cannot easily travel to Berkeley. These efforts enabled us to serve 228 remote users in FY2021, representing 92 institutions (including 8 from industry), 18 states, and 19 countries. This is a tremendous achievement by our staff, and one that I am glad to see reflected in the results of our annual User Survey. Ratings across four operational and five culture questions 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.
Many of the new pieces of equipment that I have mentioned in previous newsletters, related to our ongoing ‘Major Item of Equipment’ project, our development of QIS infrastructure, and many other recapitalization projects, are now either installed or soon to be delivered. We have also been forging ahead with new partnerships that will provide our users with access to additional instrumentation at Berkeley Lab. The latest is an agreement with the Liquid Sunlight Alliance (LiSA), which will enable use of the Chu Hall Materials Characterization Suite that includes ALD, NMR, Ellipsometers, Gas Analyzer, SEM, Raman Confocal Microscope, and Rheometer. More information about these instruments is available on our website, and other partnerships are being developed by our User Program Office team.
If you have new ideas that could take advantage of the resources now available at the Foundry, our Spring proposal call opens tomorrow on March 1, and we will be accepting proposals through March 31, 2022. I look forward to seeing the results of these new collaborations at our Annual User Meeting on August 18-19, 2022, which is being planned as a hybrid event with both virtual and in-person components.
Finally, like many of you, I am watching the events unfolding in eastern Europe with deep concern. The Foundry community extends across the globe, and many have friends, family, and colleagues in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine during this difficult and worrisome time.
All the Best,