News

Executive Director Announcement

The Society for Science at User Research Facilities (SSURF) is pleased to announce that it has hired Dan Powers as Executive Director. SSURF's mission is to promote and serve the interests of the nation's vast network of user research facilities open to the scientific public.

In pursuit of this mission, Dan will direct programming, communications, and daily activities for SSURF. This includes organizing the annual membership meeting and the sharing of best practices, managing volunteer engagement, sponsoring facility tours for elected officials and staff (as appropriate given COVID-19 protocols) and overseeing the launch of a new website and additional digital media. He will engage SSURF communications to highlight impacts of SSURF member facility research to elected officials, private sector technology companies and civic leaders. He will manage additional financial and administrative responsibilities along with the Board of Directors.

Dan will also oversee new initiatives for outreach to the broader scientific community, in order to raise awareness of the user facility system to young scientists and new faculty that are not yet engaged with the nation's user facilities.

"Dan has deep experience championing the benefits of taxpayer-funded federal research laboratories, and brings a wealth of non-profit administration knowledge from his time running CO-LABS. These make him a natural fit to enact the Board's vision to grow SSURF's impact and activities on behalf of our membership. Hiring Dan will provide for more consistent and professional operations, and allow the Board to focus on strategic vision and outreach, which are more appropriate roles for our Board members." says SSURF Board Chair Adam Rondinone with the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Dan Powers, new SSURF Executive Director "I am drawn to joining SSURF as their mission is so synergistic to the work I have done with the ecosystem of research laboratories in Colorado and because of the incredible potential to leverage the SSURF network as an innovation asset to the country," says Dan. "We are faced with global competition across a range of crucial fields of science, from agricultural technology and quantum communications to bioscience and public health, from space exploration to renewable energy paradigms and artificial intelligence to nanotechnology. The resources and brilliance represented within the SSURF network are crucial sources of discovery for our country – it will be an honor to help share their successes and best practices."

Dan is currently the Executive Director of CO-LABS, a non-profit consortium of over 30 federally-funded research laboratories and joint institutes on university campuses in Colorado. Since joining CO-LABS in 2016 he has grown their network and budget over 50%, tripled attendance at their annual Governor's Awards for High Impact Research event, designed and launched the new www.co-labs.org, and strategized and managed logistics for more than 100 lab tours and site visits with scientists, technology experts, elected officials and business leaders highlighting the latest science and impact of the labs on Colorado.

Prior to that he worked for the Boulder Chamber of Commerce as the Community Affairs Manager for nearly 9 years; before that he spent 10 years working for the State of Colorado and Boulder County, Colorado in positions regarding environmental research, government policy and business regulations. By design he will be working part-time for SSURF and coordinating his activities with CO-LABS.

Dan has a BA in Environmental Conservation from the University of Colorado at Boulder, an MBA Certificate in Sustainable Business Leadership from Green Mountain College in Burlington, VT and is a Graduate of the U.S. Dept of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory Energy Executives Leadership Program. He lives in Lafayette, Colorado with his wife Tara and two daughters, all who lovingly call him a science champion.

You can reach Dan at dan.powers@ssurf.org.




April 2020

Dear SSURF Community:

Thank you for your support of SSURF and our shared commitment to representing the nation’s user facilities and users.

In response to COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis is highlighting how important national user facilities are for the scientific community. Dr. Chris Fall, Director of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science, was recently interviewed by the Direct Current Podcast on the Department’s efforts to combat the virus. Of particular interest to the SSURF community is Dr. Fall’s assertion that our national user facilities constitute one of three science and technology ‘superpowers’ being brought to bear on the pandemic by the DOE. The user facility model is extremely well suited to react quickly in a crisis, because the user facilities themselves are accustomed to serving the ever-changing interests of the broader scientific community.

A wide array of important COVID-19 projects are underway across the DOE complex, many in collaboration with other government agencies, academia, and the healthcare industry. To learn more about how the DOE is supporting COVID-19 research, please visit: https://www.energy.gov/covid-19-hub

SSURF Updates

2019 was a successful year for SSURF. We navigated a major personnel change on the Board of Directors; we instituted additional strategic planning and reorganized our team of volunteers; and, we piloted two new outreach activities. 2020 also looks to be an active year despite the current crisis: we intend to hire our first paid executive director and repeat some of the successes from 2019.

The search for an executive director is being led by the Alliance for Better Nonprofits. We have now closed the application period and are reviewing a large pool of applicants. This process will be ongoing into early summer and we look forward to providing updates to our membership as the search progresses.

Finally, the SSURF Board of Directors along with the SSURF Nominating Committee is soliciting nominations for new Board members for the 2020 to 2023 term. The new members’ terms will start July 1, 2020. Based on the membership in the current board and expected turnover, we will be putting forward a slate of three to five new members. The Nominating committee will reach out to individual candidates to confirm interest and gather information on their board relevant experiences to inform the board’s final slate selection. Please forward any proposed candidates or self-nominations by including the candidate’s name, organization, email, and phone number to the SSURF Board Secretary at rdleonard.7@gmail.com by May 1, 2020.

Congressional Staff Delegation

Over the years our membership has participated in many events on Capitol Hill with individuals and exhibits visiting Washington to educate members and staffers about the importance of user facility research. This year we hope to reverse the arrangement and sponsor staffers to visit the user facilities, provided travel of this nature is feasible. Last year the delegation included staffers from the offices of Reps. Frankel, Calvert and Lucas, plus a staffer and a Fellow from the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. We spent three days visiting Bay Area user facilities including NIF, ALS, NERSC, ESnet, JGI, MF, LCLS and SSRL. The group had multiple opportunities to speak with users and understand their research areas and concerns, providing a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the impact of user facility research.

The Board has agreed going forward SSURF should focus on staff delegations when possible. We hope to design a schedule once travel resumes that rotates regions of the country year to year. This is a unique but important role that SSURF can play as a non-profit organization. In the meantime, the Board is committed to improving and expanding its online networks and presence, with plans to launch more strategic digital communications by summer 2020.

MRS Facility Row

Last summer at the suggestion of the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, a member facility, SSURF sponsored a new type of outreach activity at the 2019 MRS Fall Meeting and Exhibit in Boston. SSURF member facility volunteers worked with MRS staff to set aside a portion of the exhibit hall as a “Facility Row” – an area reserved solely for user facilities like those among our membership. This space provided a concentrated area where prospective users could peruse user facilities, engage with staff, and learn about the many benefits to becoming facility users and joining our organization. SSURF sponsored refreshments helping to drive traffic to Facility Row. SSURF also sponsored an event on the central Hub Stage, during which member facilities gave three-minute flash talks to the audience describing each facilities’ capabilities.

The event was extremely successful with the Nanoscale Science Research Centers collecting approximately 50% more leads than during a typical national conference exposition, including high quality leads comprising a large percentage of active researchers. The Hub Stage event was also well attended compared to previous dedicated symposia. The MRS organizers are enthusiastic about conducting this again in 2020, had two additional facilities agree to participate, and SSURF will likely play an even bigger role. Please stay tuned and consider participating in the 2020 MRS Fall Meeting and Exhibit.

Annual Meeting

The 2019 SSURF Annual Meeting was an opportunity for the SSURF community to discuss challenges, opportunities, and recent developments within the User Facility system. The meeting was well attended and led to many vibrant and timely discussions. The Meeting format intentionally included time for a town-hall discussion providing ample opportunity for the audience to actively contribute. Feedback from the conference was positive and SSURF will repeat the format next year and is happy to take additional suggestions for structure or content inclusion. The Meeting also excellent presentations by Leland Cogliani, Paul Doucette, and Norm Peterson on the state of appropriations. We are currently soliciting presentation topics for the 2020 Annual Meeting – please let us know if there is an issue you would like to hear about! The Annual Meeting committee can be reached through Board Member Jason Benedict (jbb6@buffalo.edu).

After the Meeting, the Board participated in a strategic planning retreat led by Jerry Askew from the Alliance for Better Nonprofits where we identified strategic goals for this next year and assigned Board members responsible for each. These goals include the executive director search, improving Board engagement, making more effective use of our volunteers, and improving communications. This exercise was an important step towards SSURF’s evolution into a sustainable organization.

On behalf of the entire SSURF Board of Directors, thank you again for your support.

Best Regards,

Adam J. Rondinone
Chair, SSURF Board of Directors