BER Structural Biology and Imaging Resources
Synchrotron, Neutron, and Cryo-EM
U.S. Department of Energy | Office of Science | Office of Biological and Environmental Research

Becoming a User

DOE BER supports structural biology user programs at synchrotron and neutron beamline facilities operated by BER or the Office of Basic Energy Sciences. These user programs are designed to provide the scientific community access to world-class experimental tools and scientific and technical expertise in support of their research programs, including areas of BER mission relevance.

Facilities are open to users from academia, national laboratories, the private sector, and research institutes. Access is most often obtained through peer-reviewed proposals, with no charge for users who intend to publish their results. For research that is not intended for publication, access is available on a cost-recovery basis.

New users should consult with a resource contact, listed below, before submitting a proposal.

Modes of Access

While access mechanisms may vary among the facilities (as described below under “Additional Information”), the main commonalities are:

  • General Users: These are individual researchers or groups who need access to a facility to carry out their research. General Users apply for access by submitting a proposal that is evaluated by an external Proposal Review Panel (PRP). The scope of a General User proposal can vary from a single experiment to a full program valid for multiple visits over multiple years.
  • Partner UsersThese are users who enhance the facility capabilities and/or facility operation via external financial and/or intellectual capital contributions. The capabilities must be made available to General Users to benefit the overall User Program and the facility. In recognition of their support, Partner Users may access one or more beamlines over a defined time period.
  • Rapid Access: Time-critical research opportunities that demonstrate a need for immediate access can be accommodated through shorter-term allocations to some of the beamlines (varies with the specific facility).
  • Proprietary Research: While the majority of user research is in the public domain, and as such must be disseminated by publication in the open literature, access is also provided for proprietary research. Users conducting proprietary research may access the facility as either General Users or as Partners. Full cost recovery is obtained for proprietary research, and efforts are made to secure appropriate intellectual property control for proprietary users to permit them to exploit their experimental results.
  • User Agreements: Facility-specific User Agreements for Non-Proprietary and Proprietary Research are required to be executed between the researcher’s institution and the respective facility before work can begin. These agreements are available at the respective facilities’ User Administration websites.

For More Information

Prospective users are strongly encouraged to consult with the respective facility staff for information about science opportunities and technical capabilities. Each facility also has a well-documented process for beam time allocation.