History of EnviroSync|
An organization known as EnviroSync was established in early 1998 to represent the growing
multidisciplinary community of synchrotron radiation (SR) users who focus on molecular
environmental science problems. EnviroSync is patterned after BioSync, an organization
of bioscience users of U.S. SR facilities formed in 1989, and GeoSync, a similar organization
representing geoscience users of these facilities that was formed in 1988.
EnviroSync meetings have been held annually since 1998 at one of the two American Chemical
Society National Meetings each year. A Steering Committee, appointed at the first of these meetings,
served from 1999 to 2001. A new Steering Committee Chair and Secretary were elected at the 2002
American Chemical Society Meeting in Orlando, FL, and several new Steering Committee members
were appointed. The current EnviroSync steering committee (and their affiliations) is listed below. This
community now numbers between 300 and 400 active individuals (including graduate students and
post-docs) in the U.S.
The main purposes of EnviroSync are to (1) serve as an advocate for the MES-SR community, (2)
assess the state of existing SR facilities for MES research on a continuing basis, (3) assess the
SR needs of the MES community on a continuing basis, and (4) serve as an advisory group to
federal agencies concerning the need for new SR facilities in the MES area.
In late 1997, Dr. Robert Marianelli, then Director of the Chemical Sciences Division, Office of Basic
Energy Research, Department of Energy, requested that EnviroSync be formed in order to help prioritize
the growing number of requests to federal agencies for funding to build new SR facilities for MES
research at the four DOE-sponsored synchrotron light sources. EnviroSync was also expected to
help assess the needs of the MES community for increasingly sophisticated SR facilities and staff
scientists to help train MES users at these facilities. These needs were initially highlighted in two
DOE-sponsored workshops, one held at Airlie Center, VA on July 5-8, 1995, which was attended by
about 60 scientists from a variety of disciplines as well as representatives from the DOE and NSF.
The second workshop was held at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory on January 17-18,
1997, and was attended by about 25 scientists, including representatives from each of the four DOE-
supported synchrotron light sources. The Airlie Workshop resulted in a 125-page report issued in
December 1995 , which discusses a wide variety of molecular-scale environmental science problems
requiring the use of SR methods, as well as new opportunities for MES research at SR facilities. It also
presents an assessment of the needs of the MES community for existing SR beam line (BL) stations
and new beam lines optimized for X-ray spectroscopic and X-ray fluorescence studies of very dilute,
heterogeneous samples, including m XANES and m
XRF studies at spatial resolution of 1-5 mm.
At the time of the Airlie Workshop Report (late 1995), there were the equivalent of about 3.5 full-time
BL end or side stations optimized for MES research at the ALS, APS, NSLS, SSRL, and CHESS,
providing collectively about 700 days of beam time to the MES community. These facilities were
completely saturated by MES and other users in 1995. The beam time needs of this community were
anticipated to grow to about 1450 beam station days by 1998, based on a written survey of about 200
MES users in 1995. In addition, the total number of full-time equivalent BL end or side stations available
for MES research was expected to grow from about 3.5 in 1995 to about 6.5 by 1998. One of the main
outcomes of the Airlie Workshop was verification that several new MES BL end or side stations were
needed immediately to help satisfy the growing demand for SR beam time by the MES community.
Funding was requested by SSRL for one new MES beam line (BL 11-2), and it was provided by the
Chemical Sciences Division of OBES-DOE. Commissioning of this beam line end station was completed
in 2001, and it is now in operation and is oversubscribed by a factor of at least two.
The second MES workshop held in January 1997 focused on the soft X-ray/VUV/IR (50-1500 eV) needs
of the MES community and inventoried the existing SR facilities in this energy range. A 59-page workshop
report  describing these findings was released on July 30, 1997. At that time, there were no soft
X-ray/VUV/IR SR facilities dedicated to or optimized for MES research in spite of the growing number
of MES users who required such facilities. An inventory of existing soft X-ray/VUV/IR BL end stations
available for X-ray spectroscopy, X-ray microscopy, and photoemission spectroscopy (PES) studies
indicated that all such BL stations at the ALS, NSLS, and SSRL (about 9 in 1997) were oversubscribed
and that none was optimized for MES samples, which often require photon in-photon out capabilities and
"wet" sample environments. The major outcome of this workshop was the recommendation that a new
MES soft X-ray/VUV undulator BL be built at the ALS and optimized for PES, NEXAFS, X-ray emission
spectroscopy (XES), and scanning transmission X-ray microscopy (STXM) studies of "wet" environmental
samples to take advantage of the very high brightness of the ALS in the 50-1500 eV energy range. A
proposal was prepared by a subgroup of EnviroSync and submitted to OBES-DOE. The proposal was
funded for construction of phase 1 of the project (BL 11.0.2 with STXM and PES end stations), which is
currently operational with some commissioning still being performed. Also presented in the second MES
report was an update of the current state of X-ray facilities available for MES users and the needs for such
facilities based on developments since the 1995 Airlie House MES Workshop Report.
At the fourth annual meeting of EnviroSync, which was held at the Orlando, Florida ACS meeting in
March 2002 and was attended by about 50 members, EnviroSync Co-Chair Gordon Brown presented a
preliminary version of this report, which was discussed by the membership present. Stephen Sutton
(GSECARS, University of Chicago) was elected Chair of EnviroSync for the period 2002-2004, Chris
Jacobsen (SUNY Stony Brook) was appointed secretary of EnviroSync, and John Bargar (SSRL) and
Rich Reeder (SUNY Stony Brook) were added to the EnviroSync Steering Committee. In addition, several
members of the EnviroSync Steering Committee (Bargar, Bertsch, Brown, Jacobsen, Reeder, Shuh,
Sutton, Traina) met with Dr. Roland Hirsch, Program Manager in the Office of Biological and Environmental
Research at DOE, to discuss a preliminary version of this report and the best means of disseminating the
final report to federal agencies.
EnviroSync met again in March 2004 at the American Chemical Society meeting in Anaheim, CA. A nearly
final version of the MES White Paper was presented and discussed by Gordon Brown, Jr., and Stephen
Sutton (Chair) led a discussion of possible agency presentation of the document. Other topics on the
agenda included (1) web site, membership and communications (the envirosync.org domain was claimed
by SUNY-Stony Brook for this purpose), (2) upcoming workshops/conferences, (3) plans for an SES-III
conference, (4) plans for a DOE-Geosciences sponsored workshop on User Facilities, (5) facilities reports
and plans for elections of officers. It was decided that a meeting to present the white paper to federal program
officers would be pursued to correspond with the DOE workshop in May, 2004. Brown and Sutton made that
presentation to DOE program managers on May 26, 2004, at DOE headquarters in Gaithersburg, MD.
The MES White Paper was published by the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center as publication SLAC-
R-704, and is available on-line at:
In September 2005 EnviroSync sponsored the Synchrotron Environmental Science III conference,
the third in a series focusing on applications of synchrotron techniques to MES research. SES-III
was held at Brookhaven National Laboratory and attended by approximately 130 scientists from
around the world. EnviroSync held an open meeting during this conference. EnviroSync Chair
Stephen Sutton reported on current issues and recommended that a new survey be made to
determine if current MES needs are being met by SR facilities. Richard Reeder (Stony Brook
University) was elected as the new EnviroSync Chair (2005-2007) and John Bargar (Stanford
Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory) was elected EnviroSync Secretary. A recommendation was
made to update the membership of the EnviroSync Steering Committee.
Click here for a printable pdf copy of the EnviroSync History.