Have questions? BSISB has answers! Please click on the appropriate drop-down menu item below.
Q. What is the purpose of the BSISB program?
A. The BSISB program advances biological and environmental sciences for the benefit of society by ensuring that world-leading infrared hyperspectral imaging capabilities are available to the scientific community.
Q. Who can access/use BSISB capabilities and/or facilities?
A. BSISB welcomes scientific researchers from universities and government labs who are interested in using non-destructive infrared light to discover and characterize the biological, chemical, and structural properties of a range of appropriate materials. A BSISB user is a researcher who has gone through the researcher proposal process at the Advance Light Source (ALS) and has been granted “beamtime” following a successful panel review. Being granted beamtime means the user officially has been extended access to use the facilities at the infrared beamlines. Prospective BSISB users will need to create an account in ALSHub, which is the ALS user portal. We recommend prospective BSISB users to discuss their planned experiments with BSISB staff before creating an ALSHub account and submitting a proposal.
Q. Who runs BSISB, and what do they do?
A. The BSISB program is run as a distributed management framework. In this organizational structure, there are four sub-groups: User Support and Development, Software Development, Hardware and Optics Development, and Data Analysis and Interpretation. Each group has its own decision maker/management person, from within the BSISB member team. The person is not necessarily a leader or manager, but is the person closest to the work and might be an individual contributor in the group. In BSISB’s distributed organizational structure, the person responsible for making decisions has an obligation to seek out feedback and input from other people on the team — but ultimately the decision rests with that individual to make the final call. When the person making the decision on a project is the person most familiar with the work — rather than the project’s principal investigator (P.I.), who may actually have limited subject matter expertise — the results are stronger. Furthermore, when BSISB team members feel empowered to make decisions, they contribute their best work.
Q. How is BSISB financially supported?
A. The BSISB program is fully supported by the Department of Energy’s Biological and Environmental Research program (DOE/BER). BSISB also benefits from synergistic contributions from other government funding agencies, private foundations, and even some users. In the latter case, these are users who may need additional technologies developed or significant BSISB staff support to effectively execute their research at BSISB facilities.
Q. Who supports technological innovation and facility upgrades at BSISB?
A. The technological research and development (R&D) at BSISB is fully supported by the Department of Energy’s Biological and Environmental Research program (DOE/BER). It also grows synergistically with projects sponsored by other government funding agencies and private foundations. Some of this funding directly supports facility upgrades and technological innovation, while in other cases, when a user has a very specific need, they may bring their own financial support to BSISB to support the cost of developing the technology to be able to effectively execute their research project.
Q. I’m a science writer looking for background information on certain scientific techniques, such as infrared spectroscopy. Are there any resources you could suggest to help me?
A. If you’re looking for background information on infrared spectroscopy, BSISB can help! Our Home page has a basic primer on infrared spectroscopy, and our Program Overview page offers a slightly more in-depth discussion, as well as details about the capabilities that BSISB offers, which might be useful if you’re covering a story on research that was carried out here at ALS-BSISB.
Q. I’m a science writer looking for an expert to interview on a related scientific topic. Would I be able to interview a BSISB staff member?
A. Yes! You can reach out to BSISB staff for a press inquiry or interview using the contact information provided to the right.
Outreach and education
Q. The research at BSISB looks so neat. Is there any way I could arrange a tour for myself, my class, or students in a program that I coordinate?
A. Yes! Both the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) and the Advanced Light Source (ALS), specifically, enjoy receiving visitors for tours. If you are hoping to make special contact with BSISB, you can also reach out to BSISB staff directly to learn more about what a visit to our facilities would look like.
Q. I’m writing a book or developing educational content for K-12 students, and I plan to include information about infrared spectroscopy. Can you help me with this project, so that I can be sure my scientific content is accurate?
A. Yes! BSISB staff are happy to help contribute to your educational project, either by suggesting resources, providing basic fact-checking or suggestions, or even co-authoring a chapter with you.
Q. I’m a K-12 educator or education program coordinator looking for engaging STEM content or experiences to bring into the classroom. What might you be able to help me with?
A. At the moment, BSISB staff are not able to visit classrooms off-site. However, we are more than happy to receive your class for a tour. Further information can be found here, as well as options for virtual tours. In the future, we are hoping to add to these resources by supplying more detailed virtual tour elements specific to BSISB.
Q. I’m a student right now, and I think the work at BSISB seems really interesting. How could I become involved?
A. Whether you are a high school student, college student, or graduate student, it is possible for you to intern with BSISB! Depending on your status as a student, there is a different process to follow to create this opportunity. This page has more information regarding internships for undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty researchers via LBNL, while this page will take you to the DOE’s Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Program.
Q. What would becoming a BSISB user allow me to do, as a researcher?
A. Becoming a BSISB user would provide your research program with access to world-leading synchrotron infrared spectroscopy capabilities. As a part of this access, you would have allotted beamtime that you and members of your research group could use to execute the project proposed in your General User Proposal or RAPIDD proposal. This would give you physical access to certain areas of the ALS and approved BSISB facilities. Additionally, becoming a BSISB user would give you opportunities to directly interact with other BSISB users, which could help you develop future collaborations.
Q. What knowledge and/or skills would I learn by becoming a BSISB user?
A. Depending on which BSISB capabilities are included in your work plan, you could develop a range of experimental skills. In all instances, you would also deepen your understanding of general synchrotron infrared spectroscopy methods, as well as infrared spectrum analysis.
Q. I am planning to submit a proposal. I’ve read through the information and resources shared on your Home page and Capabilities page, and I think my proposed research project could benefit from infrared spectroscopy. Would BSISB be able to generate some preliminary results to be included in my proposal?
A. This might be possible. Please contact BSISB staff to discuss further.
Q. I’ve read through the information and resources shared on your Home page and Capabilities page, and I think my research project could benefit from synchrotron infrared spectroscopy. What should I do now?
A. Please contact BSISB staff to discuss further. We are available to help you with every step of the research project process, including developing your project work plan and proposal.
Q. My research program can’t always publicly publish its results. Does my research need to be public (published) to use BSISB capabilities?
A. BSISB encourages all of its users to have their results published. Public dissemination of research conducted at BSISB is beneficial to both the researchers and the BSISB program, in the latter case because it is one metric used to measure the productivity of the BSISB program. If you are bringing proprietary work from a private company that would not be publicly disseminated, you can still gain access to BSISB. In this case, there would be a fee associated with BSISB facility and beamtime usage. BSISB strives to practice highly conscientious data handling practices. If you have any further questions, please contact BSISB staff.
Q. I plan to use infrared spectroscopy for my research project, but I’m not sure about specimen preparation or other aspects of crafting my experimental plan. Can BSISB staff help me?
A. Yes, definitely. BSISB staff are very experienced and ready to help you.
Q. I definitely want to use the facilities at BSISB for my research project. What are my next steps?
A. Please contact BSISB staff. Whether you need support crafting your work plan or would like feedback on your proposal draft, we are here to help you.
Q. I’m ready to draft my ALS user proposal. Can BSISB staff help me?
A. Yes, definitely. BSISB staff are very experienced and ready to help you. However, we do request that you have some items prepared before you reach out to us. In addition to details regarding the proposed experiment and experimental design, we also need information regarding the presence of chemical toxicity, infectious agents, live viruses, or other bio-toxins. You also need to describe how you will access the facility: in person, remotely, or through a mail-in program. As part of our commitment to deliver exceptional user services, BSISB staff are always available to help researchers prepare their user proposals.
Q. I’m a student or postdoc looking to gain access to BSISB for my research project. What are my next steps?
A. There are two ways for students and postdocs to gain access to BSISB, either by submitting their own proposal to the ALS or by working with us through an internship or fellowship opportunity. If you’re trying to decide which type of opportunity would serve you best, you can talk with your program adviser and/or reach out to BSISB staff.
Q. What do I need to budget into my research program if I plan to use BSISB facilities?
A. This can depend on how unique or groundbreaking your research project is, because it may require specialized capabilities that BSISB would help you develop, in contrast to a more routine work plan with straightforward needs. Either way, you are welcome to contact BSISB staff to discuss your needs in more depth.
Small amounts of BSISB staff time are available to help users through the process of building budgets, crafting work plans, and laying out technology needs. If it seems like your research project may require more extensive BSISB staff support, this may be possible, but would likely require financial support from your research program. BSISB recognizes that budgets are finite and can be limiting. Depending on your program’s needs, BSISB staff can help find ways to increase the amount of your experimental work that can be done off site by your research team or can also help you co-author small funding proposals to find additional funding to support your project’s needs.
Q. Once I submit my application, what can I expect the review and notification process to look like?
A. It depends. General User and RAPIDD beamtime proposals follow a merit review process, carried out by the ALS external review committee. This peer-review group, which is convened by the ALS, reviews proposals anonymously using a web interface. Panel members assign numerical scores to each proposal, ranging from 1 (best) to 5 (worst). Typically, proposals need an average score of 2.5 or better to be awarded beamtime, though this threshold may change due to an increase/decrease in the number of qualified applications. The beamtime application and review process is managed by the ALS User Office. The ALSHub provides a private, confidential record of all user proposals submitted along with the associated proposal scores if available.
Q. Is there a way for me to network/collaborate with other BSISB users?
A. Yes, we are starting a new initiative to help BSISB users network and collaborate with each other. One of the most valuable resources that comes out of being a BSISB user is access to the network of other BSISB users, who may have similar research interests. You are absolutely encouraged to look through our Publications page, which is directly connected to Google scholar, to find related studies and then browse their co-authors. BSISB staff can also help to make specific introductions.
Q. What are the basic steps to becoming a BSISB user?
A. First, familiarize yourself with the two types of proposals that can be submitted to the ALS, and do your best to clearly lay out your research plan and needs. Then, contact BSISB staff, so that we can discuss your options and identify a tailored approach for moving forward. Once that plan is in place, we can support your team through the process of ALS proposal drafting, which could also include gathering preliminary data at BSISB. Next, you will submit your proposal for the peer-review process. Pending a favorable review, you will then be notified of your allotted BSISB beamtime.
Q. Do you have any suggestions or tips for me, as I craft my user proposal?
A. New users approach BSISB every year, which means that BSISB staff are very familiar with coaching potential users through the proposal drafting process. Be sure to talk with BSISB staff before you submit your proposal, to ensure that our capabilities can complement the other methods included in your work plan, to complete your research project. In general, to receive a favorable review, it is expected that a proposal to the ALS to use BSISB capabilities will incorporate BSISB work to add another dimension of analytical information to your complete work plan. Additionally, preliminary data as proof of concept can be extremely helpful toward receiving a favorable review on your ALS proposal.
Q. What’s the timeline for becoming a new BSISB user?
A. General User Proposals (GUP) to the ALS are received twice per year (September and March). Applicants can typically expect to hear a final response within 3 months of submission. Alternatively, for research programs with more limited needs, a RAPIDD proposal may be appropriate, which has a faster turnaround time. RAPIDD proposals may be received at any time.
Q. I’m an undergraduate student with a project idea. How do I become a BSISB user?
A. Please discuss your project idea with your adviser as well as with our staff. BSISB staff will help with preparing a user proposal for submission to the ALS.
Q. I’m a graduate student or postdoc with a project idea. How do I become a BSISB user?
A. Please discuss your project idea with your adviser as well as with our staff. BSISB staff will help with preparing a user proposal for submission to the ALS.
Q. I’m still not quite sure what to do. Who can help answer my questions?
A. We welcome your questions. Feel free to reach out to BSISB staff.
Q. I’ve submitted my ALS proposal to use BSISB capabilities. How long will it take until I can expect to run my experiments?
A. If you have submitted a General User Proposal (GUP), you can expect 3 months until you receive a review and possible beamtime allocation. If you do receive beamtime, it could be up to 6 months into the future beyond the start of the next cycle. Typically, you should plan for 6-12 months into the future. If you have submitted a RAPIDD proposal and receive a favorable review, you will be notified within 4 weeks and could have beamtime allocated as soon as 3 months into the future.
Q. My research using BSISB capabilities will be published. Do I need to cite BSISB? If so, how?
A. Yes. First, in your acknowledgment section, please incorporate the text at right on this page, under “Cite BSISB”. This is the appropriate language to use to acknowledge DOE/BER as a funding organization and ALS-BSISB as a user facility that supported your work. Second, depending on the degree to which you collaborated with BSISB staff, it may also be appropriate for you to include a staff member as a co-author. If so, make sure to notify that staff member and involve them to an appropriate degree in the writing and reviewing process. Third, you should know that when new studies are published that cite BSISB, they will automatically populate our Publications page – so there’s no need to contact BSISB simply to say that your manuscript has been published, if you’re not involving BSISB staff as co-authors.
Q. I’m submitting a manuscript on a study that includes results obtained using BSISB facilities. What should I do?
A. First, in your acknowledgment section, please incorporate the text at right on this page, under “Cite BSISB”. This is the appropriate language to use to acknowledge DOE/BER as a funding organization and ALS-BSISB as a user facility that supported your work. Second, depending on the degree to which you collaborated with BSISB staff, it may also be appropriate for you to include a staff member as a co-author. If so, make sure to notify that staff member and involve them to an appropriate degree in the writing and reviewing process. Third, you should know that when new studies are published that cite BSISB, they will automatically populate our Publications page – so there’s no need to contact BSISB simply to say that your manuscript has been published, if you’re not involving BSISB staff as co-authors.
Q. I’ve completed a prior study using BSISB facilities, and now I would like to use BSISB capabilities again for my new research project. Do I need to reapply?
A. Each successful General User Proposal (GUP) is good for 2 years. If your research group is beyond the 2 year mark, you will need to submit a new proposal to the ALS to use the BSISB facilities. That being said, BSISB would still consider you a user in the sense that you would be part of our existing collective of users, which means that you would be welcome to engage with BSISB members and other users.