BioCAT Beamtime Allocation Policy

  • Research Categories
    BioCAT carries out the five key activities of an NIH Research Resource: Service, Core Research, Collaborative Research, Training, and Dissemination.
    • Service Research
      Service Research is the normal category for scientific projects initiated and carried out by autonomous researchers. Service experiments are normally carried out by independent experimenters with some operational assistance from BioCAT staff.
    • Core Research
      Core Research is technological R&D that is carried out by staff members and which provides research infrastructure for the resource. The goal is to continually advance the scientific and technological state of the art in biological X-ray scattering, fiber diffraction, XAFS, and related techniques. Core R&D activities will be monitored by the Advisory Committee.
    • Collaborative Research
      Collaborative Research is done with active participation of staff members and pushes the facility to its limits which may require new R&D on the part of BioCAT staff. Scientific projects initiated by BioCAT staff scientists also fall into this category.
    • Training
      Beamtime will be allocated as required to ensure safe and efficient use of the resource.
  • Proposal Review
    The US Department of Energy (DOE) has mandated that all beamtime proposals must be submitted through a central mechanism at the APS. The general policies for access to the APS are detailed at As a "national facility" (in the terminology of the APS document) BioCAT will use the APS mechanism for submission and review of all proposals. 75% of the beamtime will be allocated by the BioCAT executive committee and 25% by the APS Beamtime Allocation Committee to fill the DOE-mandated 25% General User Requirement.
    • Proposal Review Panel (PRP)
      All researchers are eligible to submit proposals for beamtime. All applications (including those from BioCAT "Collaborative Users") will be reviewed for scientific merit and suitability for the APS by the appropriate APS Proposal Review Panel (PRP) using the mechanisms described in the APS Policy for General User Access.
    • Duration
      The APS mechanism allows for proposals for short-term (one-time) experiments as well as "program proposals" for long-term projects, which will be active for two years. In addition, there is a "Rapid Access" mechanism for innovative, high-risk experiments as well as any other experiment that has a demonstrable benefit by rapid access. "Rapid Access" proposals are subject to retrospective review by the appropriate APS PRP.
    • Beamtime Allocations by Category
      The majority of beamtime will be awarded for service and collaborative research. The combined fraction will typically exceed ~70%. The remainder will be allocated for core R&D, maintenance, technical development, training, high-risk research, and Directors' discretionary time. No more than 15% of the beamtime will be allocated for high-risk research and the Director's discretionary time. Time allocated to high-risk and Director's Discretionary time will still require proposals using the "Rapid Access Mechanism" and will be subject to retrospective review by the APS.

      The Memorandum of Understanding with the APS requires that 25% of a Collaborative Access Team's beamtime must be made available to "General Users (previously called "independent investigators") who have applied to the APS. Therefore, 25% of the beamtime in a given run will be awarded by the APS Beamtime Allocation Committee (BAC). These projects will, in almost all cases, be those of "service" users of the BioCAT facility. Beamtime allocation for users not allocated time by the APS general user program ("National User Facility Time" in the terminology of the APS) is done by the BioCAT beamline allocation committee chaired by the Director. Detailed scheduling is initiated by the Director who does fiber diffraction scheduling and assigns blocks for other modalities. Dr. Chakravarthy does detailed scheduling for SAXS workshops and works with director with other SAXS projects. Microprobe, micro-diffraction, and other spectroscopy proposals are allocated by the Director. Ms. Clark manages the distribution of proposals to user liaisons, official notification of beamtime allocation, tracks user registrations, ensures all paperwork is complete, and maintains databases of users, experiments, publications and proposals

    • Review Criteria
      Proposals shall be reviewed by the criteria defined by the APS Policy for General User Access.
    • Appeals
      Any experimenters who are denied beamtime may appeal the decision using the procedures defined in the APS Policy for General User Access.
    • Reporting and Disclosure
      The beamtime schedule and allocations statistics shall be included as part of the BioCAT annual progress report to NIH. Beamtime allocations shall be periodically reviewed by the BioCAT Advisory Committee.