Minutes of USLUA Executive Committee Meeting, March 28, 2018


Attendees: Darin Acosta, Jahred Adelman, Yangyang Cheng, Julia Gonski, Usha Mallik, Verena Martinez, David Miller, Corinne Mills, Harvey Newman, Jane Nachtman, GianLuca Sabbi, Sheldon Stone, Gordon Watts


  1. 2018 HEP Trip to DC (Harvey, Yangyang, Jane)
  2. European Strategy and the High Energy LHC (Harvey)
  3. NSF Notice (Harvey)
  4. USA Science and Engineering Festival April 7-8 (Verena, Julia, Harvey)
  5. EU General Data Protection Regulation (Harvey)
  6. Finances (Gordon)
  7. Subcommittee Membership (Jahred)
  8. 2018 Annual Meeting (Corrinne)
  9. Proposal for Lab Management representation on the US LUEC (Harvey)
  10. Subcommittee Reports (Committee chairs)

Minutes (note action items in bold):

  1. 2018 HEP Trip to DC (Harvey, Yangyang, Jane)


  • The trip was very well organized, thanks in particular to the Fermilab user’s organization. New tools were made available to help schedule and prepare meetings. The informational material was also very good, including some VR tools in addition to one pagers etc.
  • Participation and coverage of congressional offices were good although perhaps a bit lower than in some of the previous years. 55 participants, 375 offices visited (75% of the house and 80% of the senate). Very positive reception.
  • The initial plan was to focus on FY18 HEP funding (860 M$ ask) but quickly learned that appropriators were in the final stages of negotiating FY18 budget and offices not involved in appropriations were already working on FY19. We were strongly encouraged to formulate FY19 ask and quickly converged on 910 M$
  • Afterwards we learned that FY18 budget was 908M$, well above the FY17 funding FY18 ask and close to FY19 ask. This is a remarkably good result. Next question is how it will be allocated, one would expect some increase in the research programs but initial feedback from DOE is unexpectedly not optimistic. Harvey discussed with Andy Lankford who is supportive of an increase in research funding. As a next step he will talk with Jim Siegrist to better understand the DOE perspective, and report to the committee on the results.


[Notes added: Discussion with Jim Siegrist and Abid Patwa did not lead to a clear view of how the research lines would benefit from the favorable top-line number. The point was made that Congress expects that the favorable top line number will lead to a significantly improved situation for research and the universities and labs.

FY19 updated Ask letter for $ 969M was assembled and sent quickly; went out April 5.]

  • Met with representatives from OMB (Tali Bar-Shalom) and OSTP (Lloyd Whitman and colleague). OSTP was particularly engaged and informed that research programs were facing cuts unless a favorable budget could be secured. They offered to help with coordination across programs however DOE OS/OHEP should have primary responsibility in this area. Harvey requested that basic research gets higher priority in OSTP memo and it appears that it was accepted, but the specific wording is still not available.

Update: The August 2017 memo specifying R&D priorities for FY 2019 is accessible here:


Excerpts follow:

  • At the meeting with NSF the focus was on diversity. Harvey invites comments from Jane who also participated in the meeting:

o   Regarding the DC trip in general, Jane found that the organization is getting more professional with better outreach materials, and a smooth meeting setup thanks to the new software

o   Feedback from meetings in congressional offices was very positive

o   On diversity, we should be aware of the NSF interest in this topic and might consider taking some initiatives in USLUA, but no specific suggestions at this time

o   Julia asks some clarification on the NSF discussion, for example, are there any new programs being created

o   Harvey: they have a new effort on preventing sexual harassment, see next agenda item for details. But the initiative is broader including rights of protected groups/classes, and outreach to different communities. One issue is that the agency making recommendations but there is little/no support to implement them.

  • Meeting at DOE HEP (Harvey):

o   Jim Siegrist was positively impressed with the informational material and suggested that it could be used in coordination with the state department to promote our field in the international context

o   On the FY18 budget, DOE is not ready to move forward with funding decisions. This might have an impact on programs already under financial strain due to the CR

  • Additional comments on trip:

o   Yangyang notes that many of the people who were on the trip for the first time did an excellent job. Perhaps we should give more opportunities to junior participants to advocate, for example by being assigned as a primary. In some case, they might have special connections to some of the offices (e.g. home district, etc.). We also need to be careful of the image we project when we send two people, and one of them, who might be younger or a minority, appears to be relegated to a secondary role.

o   Harvey: this depends on how various factors are accounted for in the scheduling software. A related consideration is that we were not able to cover some important offices, e.g. Kamala Harris (CA), it might help to allow more people to be primaries.


  1. European Strategy and the High Energy LHC

Harvey reports on recent news from a conversation with Nigel Lockyer

  • The European strategy is currently being formulated with lots of community input. Among the main initiatives is the High Energy LHC and this should be discussed also in the US community
  • Primary focus should be on physics opportunities rather than funding or schedule. A white paper is being discussed among the experiments.
  • In parallel there are discussions underway on what could be a suitable US contribution. From a financial standpoint a figure of 250 M$ over 10 years has been considered. From a technical standpoint high field magnets might be the focus of the US contribution since they are critical for the machine and the US has special expertise in this area, following the LARP R&D program. Note that LARP had a broad R&D portfolio including accelerator physics, instrumentation and components such as SC magnets and cavities, plus the Toohig fellowship. This has been greatly reduced to make room for the construction of hardware deliverables for HL-LHC and LARP is being terminated.
  1. NSF Notice


  • Request for public comment (by May 4) on a new reporting requirement for sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, or sexual assault. It would affect all PIs and co-PIs on NSF grants
  • Several emails were circulated and supplementary Information can be found at the following link:


  1. USA Science and Engineering Festival April 7-8

Verena who is leading the effort for US LUA reports on the USLUA contribution and organization

  • USLUA will support two groups one from Johns Hopkins and one from Fermilab, each has 20×10 boot which is fairly large
  • Main contacts are Andrei Gritsan for Johns Hopkins and Spencer Passero (Head of Office of Education and Public Outreach) for Fermilab
  • There appears to be a large imbalance in staffing between the two, about 10 people for Johns Hopkins but only 2 from Fermilab so we might concentrate on the latter
  • In terms of displays the plan includes:

o   ATLAS VR (David Miller). Fully interactive, can walk through the detector or the cavern, remove parts etc. Very successful but long lines to handle

o   Setups playing videos on CMS and LHC data from Verena

o   FNAL will have a liquid nitrogen show and because of this they will drive a van which can be used by other people who need to ship stuff

o   Life size posters of LHC, people can take selfies

  • Main issue is manpower. At the moment 6 people signed up from LHC area. This is not enough considering the number of displays, the need to guide and prepare people waiting in line especially for the VR, and the long hours 9 am to 6 pm. We should try to recruit additional people who are based in that area
  • There is also interest in setting up virtual visits but the main concern is about internet connection. Fiber is too expensive so we will need to use the available wifi or cell. Need to check/confirm quality of connection after we get there.

o   Julia reports that on the ATLAS side there are 6-7 people who have signed up to cover 2 hours (6 to 8 CERN time)

o   No feedback yet from the CMS side

  • Sound can also be an issue, lots of background noise. Verena will try to get splitter and multiple headphones
  1. EU General Data Protection Regulation


  • GDPR is a major expansion of EU regulations aiming at protection of personal data and preventing misuse. Examples are requiring explicit consent to use of data, reporting of any breach within 72 hrs. to people affected, etc. Any institution with connections with the EU (e.g. staff/students who are EU nationals) will be affected
  • We were first alerted to this by Joel Butler and Joe Incandela (DPF chair) and have been gathering information on how US universities and labs are reacting
  • Sheldon asks if CERN is included given that main site is CH, but it would be hard to claim an exception given the site geography and large number of EU population
  • Gordon mentions that many US institutions are moving forward to implement these requirements, including UW, and some larger meetings across universities have taken place so there are opportunities for coordinated efforts.
  • Harvey has found a good source of information at https://er.educause.edu/
  1. Finances


  • About 18k$ currently in the account
  • Large variations in month to month spending, high expenses in connection with events like DC trip, S&E festival, annual meeting, low expenses in between:

o   Dec-Feb <500/month

o   March 5500$, November 3500$

  • In total 20 k$ spend over the last year vs 15 k$ income. Ok for now but need to correct this trend or situation will become critical in the next year or two. Need to think if we should focus on small or large contributions

o   Harvey: it would be useful to list the expenses not related to lobbying e.g. S&E festival, for these it might be easier to get support from the Labs

o   Sheldon suggests that when Harvey talks to Jim Siegrist he might ask about any outreach funding we can get for some of the activities, e.g. annual meeting

o   Harvey will follow up on this with Siegrist, but need to keep well separated from any lobbying activity [Update: Siegrist suggested we talk to NSF. Harvey will talk to Randy Ruchti.]

  • Future expenses:

o   Website hosting no longer free, expect 25$/month. We could try to be hosted by a lab but from past discussions we prefer to avoid any direct connection

o   For the mailing list, Gordon has used MailChimp for ICHEP with good results, thinks we could use it for USLUA

  • It’s free below a certain number of monthly emails but if we go over even just for one month we have to pay from that point on. Anyways fee is not high perhaps 20$/month
  • It has nice features e.g. bounces are automatically removed from the list
  • However it does not allow to send to the list from the mail application, need to go through the web site which makes it a bit more involved
  1. Subcommittee Membership


  • Still missing some subcommittee chairs, need some volunteers among people who are not chairing already
  • Current status:

o   Outreach not covered

o   Finance: Gordon

o   Communications: Yangyang

o   Web not covered


  • We need to improve the web site and update content. Perhaps this is an area where Labs could contribute by assigning staff or paying for contract staff to work on this
  • Committee members should agree on who will be the chair. Will give some time then will start asking directly

Darin offers to work on updating the newcomers guide

Update: committee list as of 4/7/18:

  1. 2018 Annual Meeting


  • Regarding location, Jahred was going to talk to Argonne but otherwise it would be at FNAL
  • We will discuss more in detail at the next meeting


  1. Proposal for Lab Management representation on the US LUEC (Harvey)


  • Harvey will write and circulate a proposal


  1. Subcommittee Reports (Committee chairs – if time permits)


  • Due to lack of time, will discuss at the next meeting


  1. AOB


  • Usha was finally able to talk to people in CERN user’s office after the recent management changes
  • Harvey will be at CERN in April, starting around the 15-16 and will arrange a meeting with Eckhard Elsen on this topic


Next meeting will be in about 3 weeks.