Staff Support for User Proposals
Research staff at the Foundry split their time evenly between supporting users and developing their internal research programs, in accordance with our “50/50” model. This model incentivizes staff to develop capabilities that are relevant to the user community and keeps them fully engaged in pursuit of problems they are passionate about. Technical staff primarily support user research, but may also be involved in the internal research programs of the staff scientists.
A single point of contact on the Foundry staff is identified as the Assigned Scientist for each user project. The Assigned Scientist may be a member of either the research staff or technical staff and serves as the scientific and safety point of contact for the project.
Resource Allocation to User Proposals
User projects at the Foundry may have widely varying scopes, ranging from brief, intense usage of a single instrument up to year-long projects using a broad array of instruments across several facilities. User proposals are not required to specify exact requirements in terms of instrument usage or staff support, though well considered research plans that include estimates help make proposals more competitive. It is understood that active projects may sometimes require resources beyond those initially anticipated in order to facilitate breakthrough research.
Lab space and equipment time are not allocated to individual user projects and users share access to instruments, workspaces, and other capabilities. The Foundry uses an online instrument scheduler to reserve time on major instruments. Most instruments are available on a first-come first-served basis, but Foundry staff monitor the scheduling calendar to ensure that all researchers are able to secure the time needed to execute their projects. Workspace may be temporarily dedicated to user and staff projects as needed. Users should consult their Assigned Scientist about access to instruments and other resources.
For heavily used, high-demand instruments, such as the TEAM microscopes, and those requiring long periods of dedicated access, such as SPLEEM and WANDA, time allocation for an approved proposal is based on an assessment of several factors, including the user’s experience and expertise and their geographic location. In the NCEM Facility, initial microscope sessions may be scheduled to assess samples and evaluate the user’s capability on a particular instrument and, if needed, to train the user. Users able to demonstrate proficiency in independent use of equipment are generally permitted to access scheduling after hours and on weekends (subject to the working-alone policy), thereby affording them access to broader time bands of instrument schedules. Interim progress discussions occur between the user and Foundry staff members throughout the project lifespan. To minimize travel expense and increase operating efficiencies for both user and facility, sessions for out-of-state users with significant travel time are usually booked in longer increments, leaving time for evaluation, analysis, and redirection, if indicated.