There are many reasons why a reorganisation of staff and stations within the Synchrotron Radiation Department makes good sense at this particular moment in time. A new Director of SR, John Helliwell, with an expanded role, the Quinquennial Review and the changes in the roles of the Research Councils with regard to access to beamtime and funding for facility developments, and the ground-swell of staff and users’ opinion for a greater focus on science in light of the fact that the SRS now has a fixed number of years to run. The challenges for the staff and users are clear. Maximising science output from the SRS within heavy budgetary constraints particularly in light of the cost of improving the reliability of the SRS in the run up to Diamond. The resounding message from BioMed staff has been YES to using the new college system as a vehicle to create a more efficient science based culture of helpfulness among college members to the benefit of the biology and medical SR communities.
The new BioMed College will be responsible for a similar portfolio of stations as the old Life Sciences Programmes: all the protein crystallography stations, station 2.1 from non-crystalline diffraction and stations CD12, IR11 and beamline 13 of the old VUV-IR facility group. This is of course for administrative reasons and doesn't mean that biology or medical users are prevented from using the stations of other colleges. In fact, cross-college interactions are strongly encouraged so that we retain the interdisciplinary nature of our science.
What will be new within the college, will be a greater awareness among staff of the skills that reside within BioMed. We have already staged awareness sessions and BioMed College strategy away day in early October. The output from these will form the basis of BioMed College business plan. It is clear that we can't do everything we would like to in the department as a whole, we simply do not have the staff time and funding. In the new regime after consultation with users, the SRS will run with a reduced portfolio of stations, but as most of BioMed stations are either new or oversubscribed (mostly both) there is no respite for staff here. This is a healthy state to be in, but our stations are used at a very high user group turnover rate and therefore require much staff time.
Instead, the BioMed plan will have scientific focus to optimise its output. We hope to have a health mix of purely in-house research project and collaborations with external user groups. BioMed is open to collaborative projects and these should be discussed with individual facility scientists. I believe that most visiting scientist are totally unaware of the breadth and depth of expertise in BioMed which stretches way past structural biology to infrared microscopy, electron microscopy, molecular and cell biology and even virology.
The common goal for the BioMed College and our users is to produce the highest quality science output in the most efficient manner.