It's all action at UM2019 - plenary session, tutorials, poster clips ...


"Today, we welcome 280 participants. We've received 80 posters and we have 26 oral presentations from our users. That's quite a feat given the exceptional circumstances in which the meeting is held this year," said Michela Brunelli on opening the plenary session of the 29th ESRF User Meeting, held from 4-6 February in Grenoble.

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In front of a full auditorium, Michela recalled the very high number of experiments conducted at the ESRF in 2018, a total of 2544, with users right up until the beam was switched off, for the very last time in the original storage ring, on 10th December 2018. 

She gave a brief overview of this year's programme, which has been tailored to reflect the main concepts of EBS: higher energy, brilliance and coherence of the X-rays, plus lower emittance.  


Day 2 of the User Meeting. The plenary session opens for keynote talks, directors' report, poster clips and the Young Scientist Award. ©ESRF/P. Jayet

Paul Shearing from University College London (UCL), opened the keynote talks with a lively presentation on "The use of synchrotron radiation for operando studies of performance and failure of advanced batteries".  With more than 4 billion lithium ion batteries produced worldwide every year, and the increasing presence of batteries in our everyday lives from smartphones to cars, the question of robustness of design, plus the ability to safely store and convert energy over extended periods of time, is of major importance. 

"The ESRF is an unparalleled toolbox for the evaluation of batteries and new materials. We have a huge opportunity to embed these techniques inside the materials optimisation process and to ultimately accelerate the commercialisation of new batteries." - Paul Shearing.

The morning session continued with second keynote speaker, Helena Käck from AstraZeneca, Sweden, with a talk on "Synchrotron Radiation in drug discovery".  She discussed the use of structural information in drug discovery projects and the importance of access to synchrotron radiation sources to determine high resolution protein structures. 


Poster authors wait in line to promote their work during the poster clips. ©ESRF/P. Jayet

The morning was punctuated with poster clips as an invitation to visit the posters displayed during the evening's poster session.

In the Director's report, ESRF Director General, Francesco Sette underlined the two very exceptional years - 2018 and 2019 - for the ESRF, with the final moments of the world's first third generation synchrotron in December, and EBS, which is ready to be installed inside the new storage ring, with first beam scheduled in December 2019. Harald Reichert, ESRF director of Research presented an update of the EBS experimental programme, that will offer new opportunities for Users, for new Science: 4 new flagship beamlines, a high power laser facility, many refurbishments, an instrumentation programme and a strong "data analysis as a service" strategy.

The afternoon session was dedicated to two further keynote talks by Pierre Thibault of the University of Southampton, on "Phase retrieval with Ptychography and X-ray speckles" and Liu Hao Tjeng from the Max-Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids, Germany, on "Core-level non-resonant inelastic x-ray scattering: an extremely powerful method to determine the local ground state wave function".

Best Poster Prize

Later in the evening, Mark A.Levenstein, from the University of Leeds, School of Mechanical Engineering and School of chemistry, was awarded the prize for best poster at the User Meeting dinner. His poster presents research on "Evaluation of Nucleating agents with a microfluidic serial powder diffraction technique".  According to  Mark Levenstein and his colleagues (Clara Anduix-Canto, Yi-Yeoun Kim, Carlos Gonzalez Nino, Manfred Burghammer, Nikil Kapur and Fiona C.Meldrum), "there is a tremendous interest in understanding and controlling crystallization processes, where the ability to trigger nucleation on-demand with a nucleating agent or "nucleant" could be a huge advantage".

They show that Droplet Microfluidics-coupled x-ray diffraction (DMC-XRD) is better for studying crystallization than previous continuous-flow microfluidic-systems and is analogous to recent injection-based serial crystallography techniques.

Their findings suggest that bioactive glasses and NX illite clays are efficient nucleants for calcite and that surface chemistry and topography are both important to a nucleant's effectiveness. They carried out experiments at ESRF ID13 beamline, and benefited from the support of the partnership for Soft Condensed Matter (PSCM) during ESRF beamtimes.

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Mark A.Levenstein during the poster session. ©ESRF/C. Argoud.

What else has been happening at the User Meeting?

Monday, 4th February: The first day of the ESRF User Meeting was dedicated to tutorials, with nine different topics open to the 131 participants who had signed up for the workshops (see the full list). 

In the session dedicated to X-ray spectroscopy simulations using Crispy and Quanty, the goal was to familiarize the participants with the simulation of core-level spectra using semi-empirical multiplet approaches. This new method was developed by ESRF scientist, Marius Retegan, who led the tutorial. After a short introduction of the theoretical aspects, the participants focused on hands-on training, which included examples of simulating X-ray absorption (XAS) and resonant inelastic X-ray scattering (RIXS) spectra for transition metals and rare earths.

 “This tool is fundamental for me to understand the spectra that I take at a synchrotron,” says Lucia Amidani, an ESRF user since 2011 and post-doctoral fellow on the ROSSENDORF CRG beamline (ROBL).

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ESRF's Marius Retegan leads the tutorial on Crispy and Quanty, and participants train with hands-on exercises during the session. ©ESRF/C. Argoud.

For Anna Volkova, from the Moscow State University and a first-time participant at the ESRF User Meeting, the tutorial is a step towards the work she will be doing at the ESRF this summer. “I will be working in Kristina Kvashnina’s group on the ROBL beamline this summer and she suggested that I follow this tutorial. It’s useful and totally new to me. The lecturer is friendly and helpful and because the participants have varied backgrounds, the questions they raise make it easier to understand how to use the software.”

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Discussions during the tutorial on "Coherent X-rays: a unique tool for structural and dynamic studies."

Photos: ESRF/C. Argoud.

ESRF's Sakura Pascarelli introduces participants to XAS and EXAFS during the tutorial "EXAFS data analysis."

Later in the morning, the roundtable on Gender Parity in Science gathered a wide audience. Giovanna Fragneto, Large Scale Structures Group Leader at the ILL and Nedjma Bendiab, lecturer at Université Grenoble Alpes and scientist at Institut NEEL, animated the roundtable which aimed to debate on questions such as: "Do women and men have equal opportunities in scientific research and academia? How traditional gender roles hold back female scientists? How long until women and men are equally represented in science?"

Guest speaker Cornelius Gross, Deputy Head of the EMBL (European Molecular Biology Laboratory) in Rome, presented the actions implemented at the EMBL. Eva Pebay-Peyroula, former Director of the IBS (Institut de Biologie Structurale, Grenoble) compared the situation in education and research over the last decades and questioned the role of models. The invited guests at the roundtable, Christiane Alba-Simionesco, CEA, former LLB Director, Brigitte Plateau, former General Administrator of Grenoble-INP and "Directrice Générale de l'enseignement supérieur et de l'insertion professionnelle" at the French Ministry of Higher Education, and Sine Larsen, former ESRF Director of Research, each gave an example of their own experience or actions in favour of gender parity.

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During the tutorial on gender parity in science. Photos: ESRF/C. Argoud

Some of the invited guests, left to right: Cornelius Gross, Sine Larsen, Brigitte Plateau and Christiane Alba-Simionesco.


ESRF User Meeting 2019 welcomes 41 different nationalities

Monday, 4th February, 2019


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The snow never lasts long in Grenoble, and today the sun was shining once again on the User Meeting marquee. ©ESRF/C. Argoud

This morning, the ESRF opened its doors to welcome almost 300 participants to the 2019 User Meeting. The annual event, which will span three days, draws together scientific users from institutes in 20 different countries.  With the ESRF in shutdown to make way for EBS, the Extremely Brilliant Source, this year's User Meeting focuses on the future and the scientific possibilities opened with the new capabilities of the new source. 

From 4-6 February 2019, the User Meeting is dedicated to the ESRF user community. It provides users and staff the opportunity to learn about, discuss and experience the science and cutting-edge research made with ESRF synchrotron light. The three-day programme includes tutorials, keynote lectures, dedicated symposia, poster clips and social events. 

The ESRF User Meeting aims to attract young users and to inform and train them in more detail about synchrotron techniques and data treatment through a range of tutorials, but also to offer them the opportunity to talk about their research and present their data to the community at the user-dedicated microsymposia. In this 2019 edition, it is important that we use the meeting to keep close links with our user community during the EBS shutdown period, so that their ideas can bear fruit quickly with the capabilities of the new source”, says Joanne McCarthy, head of the User Office.

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Welcome users! The User Office staff are ready to welcome users for three days of interaction, exchange and rich discussions. From left to right: Stéphanie Monaco, Joanne McCarthy, Sonya Girodon, Agnès Carlet and Fabienne Mengoni. ©ESRF/C. Argoud.


The plenary session, on Tuesday, 5 February, includes a session dedicated to the latest news from EBS. The four keynote speakers will give insight into some of the cutting-edge research which can be carried out at the ESRF with EBS, as follows:

  • Paul Shearing, University College London, Chemical Engineering, London, UK
    "The use of synchrotron radiation for operando studies of performance and failure of advanced batteries"
  • Helena Käck, AstraZeneca R&D Mölndal, Structural Chemistry Laboratory, Mölndal, Sweden
    "Synchrotron radiation in drug discovery"
  • Pierre Thibault, University of Southampton, School of Physics and Astronomy, UK
    "Phase retrieval with ptychography and X-ray speckles"
  • Liu Hao Tjeng, Max-Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids, Dresden, Germany
    "Core-level non-resonant inelastic X-ray scattering: an extremely powerful method to determine the local ground state wave function"

In the afternoon, the ESRF User Organisation will announce the winner of the 2019 Young Scientist Award. The announcement will be followed by a talk from this year's recipient. 

Throughout the day, students will promote their posters in the form of short clips before the poster session scheduled in the evening.

On Monday, nine tutorials will cover a wide range of subjects. The day will conclude with the traditional wine and cheese bistro evening.

On Wednesday, participants can choose between three dedicated micro-symposia on the following subjects:

  • ID29: Tunable past and time-resolved future
  • X-ray microscopy in biology: recent applications, challenges and opportunities
  • Exploiting coherent X-rays at ESRF: robust tools for imaging and dynamics

Get the full programme on the User Meeting web pages.

Follow the activities of the 2018 ESRF User Meeting on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

If you are participating in the meeting and tweeting, don’t forget to add the hashtag #UM2019



Top image: ¬©ESRF/P.Jayet