Applying for Time

BioCAT is an NIH-supported Biotechnology Research Resource. Anyone can use the facility for free by putting in an application through the APS GUP program. These applications are reviewed on the basis of feasibility and scientific merit. Obtaining time at the BioCAT facility is a multiple-step process. Below is a listing of the eleven things you need to do—-from start to finish—-to acquire, use, and complete time at BioCAT. Please also check the APS new user checklist.

  1. Discuss Your Proposed Experiment with Us

    Our facility is very flexible and can accommodate most experiments that fall within our supported techniques. We strongly encourage you to discuss your experiment with the user liaison for your technique. This will save a lot of time assembling and debugging your set-up giving you more time to acquire high-quality data once you’ve arrived.

  2. Register as an APS Experimenter (“User”)

    The Advanced Photon Source resides within Argonne National Laboratory which is a controlled-access facility. This step initiates the process for granting access to ANL, as well as, the process for ensuring that safety and compliance requirements are met.

  3. Submit a Proposal

    The primary mechanism for access to BioCAT is through the APS General User Program. Further information on classes of experiments, allocation of time by category, and the proposal review process is available from the APS.

    Users with active proposals wishing time in the next run should complete follow the directions for a Returning Proposer on the APS website.

  4. Complete the Experiment Safety Assessment Form (ESAF)

    Every proposal awarded beam time must be accompanied by an approved Experiment Safety Assessment Form (ESAF) before it is allowed to proceed.

    For an ESAF to be valid, it must list all experimenters to be present at the facility. In addition, when listing materials, protein names must be written out in full (i.e. no abbreviations with the exception of “DNA” and “RNA”)

    If your experiment does not involve any of the hazards listed below, submitting the ESAF two weeks before your scheduled beam time should provide enough time for its review and possible revision. Please visit our Safety & Compliance page for further instructions.

    Please submit your ESAF far enough in advance to resolve any safety issues so that your experiment can proceed.

    N.B.: Hazards Requiring Additional Review

    There are a number of hazards which will require a more detailed (and, therefore, prolonged) review before access can be granted:

    • Bio-Hazardous Materials

      Experiments utilizing any of the following items will have to be coordinated far in advance with your Scientific Contact, Mark Vukonich (BioCAT BSO), and Nena Moonier (APS BSO) to be reviewed formally by the ANL Institutional Biosafety Committee(IBC) as well as the IIT IBC:

      • Human tissues or fluids
      • Animal tissues derived from diseased animals
      • Some plants and plant pathogens
      • Some viruses and bacteria
      • Some proteins which may be involved in causing disease or harmful effects of the disease process
      • Some sequences of DNA or RNA

      The IBCs oversee the safety of all experimental participants and ratify the proposed experimental protocol according to Centers for Disease Control, Department of Transportation, and Department of Agriculture regulations. This is a process which can take upwards of three months; so consult with your Scientific Contact for IBC application instructions well in advance if you think your experiment might require the approval of the IBC.

    • Lasers

      Use of any other than a class I laser requires additional ANL-supplied training. You will need to schedule a few hours to complete this training. In addition, use of a class IIIb or IV laser will require a written Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and an on-site review of the assembled (but not aligned) laser system before work may begin. A class IV laser will require all operators to have an ANL-approved off-site eye examination.

    • Electrical Equipment

      All electrical equipment which is not certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) (such as Underwriters Laboratories) or is modified will need to be inspected before it may be used at the APS. A listing of approved NRTLs is provided here.

  5. Arrange for Shipping

    Please be aware that the transportation of many materials is regulated by the US Department of Transportation as well as ANL. Failure to comply with DOT regulations can result in heavy fines. Failure to comply with ANL regulations can result in loss of access to the facility.

  6. Establish a “User Account”

    BioCAT requests that all experimenters submit a purchase order to ANL in care of the APS “User Account Specialist” to provide a mechanism for covering costs that may be incurred at the APS on their behalf. Such costs include: shipping, purchases from the APS stock room, supplies ordered through the Argonne Materials Ordering System (AMOS), and fabrication of items at an APS/ANL shop.

  7. Complete Training and Orientation

    Once you arrive, both the APS and BioCAT will require certain training and orientation sessions to be taken before you may proceed with your experiment. These sessions will be determined by the ESAF process. Some of these are available on-line. Please visit Safety and Compliance for further details.

  8. Observe Beamline Etiquette

    Please, while you’re here:

    • Be courteous to your host staff.

      We work hard supporting back-to-back experiments that run 24 hours a day for multiple days during the three-month-long “run”. We will do all that is humanly possible to support your experiment while you’re here, but we will also show you basic trouble-shooting algorithms that will help you diagnose some problems on your own—-saving you time.

    • Be patient.

      Your experiment block includes time required for set-up. For non-standard experiments,unless otherwise arranged, you should expect at least one shift to be used aligning optics and assembling sample holders before your experiment is ready to begin the debugging phase.

    • Keep your work areas as orderly and free of debris as possible.

    • Collect Your Data

      It is now becoming more and more common for experiments to generate tens of GB of data. Please be prepared to collect this data so that you can transmit it to your home institution. We recommend a USB 3 1 TB external hard-drive. BioCAT is not supported to supply experimenters with storage media.

    • Relinquish the facilities at the appointed time.

      Typically, the experimenter following you begins at 0800 on your last day. Unless otherwise arranged, you should have your equipment already dismantled and the hutch and bio-chem lab cleared by this time.

  9. Complete an End of Experiment Form

    Once your experiment is over, we request that you provide BioCAT and the APS with any comments and constructive criticisms so that your next experiment can run more efficiently.

  10. Publish Your Results

    When you publish your results, be sure to properly acknowledge the APS and BioCAT, and notify both the APS and BioCAT of such publications. Peer-reviewed publications are are the primary measure of scientific output. Properly documented publications insure that funds are available to continue operating the facility.

  11. Refine Your Experiment

    Most of our experimenters return for subsequent experiments. Keep in touch with your user liaison and follow through on proposed modifications to your experiment. It is very important that ideas for improving your experiment are not lost between visits.