Workshop on Instrumentation
NSF WORKSHOP ON INSTRUMENTATION
APRIL 16 and 17, 1999, ARLINGTON, VA
In today's climate of increased competitive funding, concern has arisen as to the future of instrumentation acquisition at most academic institutions. Important considerations such as sources of funding, shared vs. single investigator instrument usage and costs associated with personnel to oversee and maintain equipment has become of paramount interest. Obviously, the needs of smaller research active institutions are diverse and different from those of major research universities and thus policies established for one may adversely affect the other. These issues are clearly of importance to NSF.
The following is a report generated from a NSF Workshop on Instrumentation, which was held on April 16, and 17, 1999 in Arlington Virginia. The two-day workshop included approximately 60 scientists from academia, government and instrument manufacturers as well as NSF personnel. The workshop format of morning keynote speakers and afternoon panel discussions was designed to 1) establish a forum for discussing instrumentation issues relevant to NSF and academia, and 2) propose strategies for addressing those issues. The general goal of this workshop was to provide advice, through the medium of discussion, to NSF on funding issues related the CRIF and MRI programs as regards instrumentation development, acquisition, and infrastructure.
During this two-day workshop, suggestions and recommendations were put forth regarding the status of instrumentation proposal submission, review and funding. Names, addresses, the agenda and listed speakers are provided as an appendix to this document. All recommendations are listed at the end of each of the ensuing sections that provide detailed information on each of the specific panels. The panel recommendations with highest consensus are listed below:
1) The CRIF program should not be discontinued. Rather, it should continue to provide funds for shared use
instrumentation at the current or increased level of funding. An REU-CRIF program should be investigated
as a possible source of equipment funds for smaller schools and/or undergraduate institutions.
2) In certain disciplines, Regional/National Facilities with extended continuity (greater than five years) can play
an important role. Such facilities should be funded appropriately with consideration given to travel and
housing costs for those individuals visiting and benefiting from collaborations with such facilities.
3) It is important that NSF fund instrument development proposals. Many suggestions are provided within the
following sections on how this might be accomplished more effectively. In particular, instrument
development proposals should be reviewed separately from shared instrumentation proposals and a unique set
of review criteria for the former should be mandated and implemented.
4) Interagency cooperation is very important and should be encouraged in order to fund high end, expensive
instrumentation and national research centers.
5) Support for instrumentation for the individual PI as well as those applying for shared use instruments must be
6) The requirement for matching funds should be maintained in order to show institutional commitment.
However, more creative sources of matching money should be allowed; i.e. capital development for new
buildings, service and maintenance costs and industrial funds should be viewed as matching contribution. It
was suggested that matching money be required for equipment in excess of $100K (rather than $80K) for
undergraduate institutions, thus making it easier for these important institutions to train perspective graduate
students as well as future employees to local industry.
7) Although Chemistry as a discipline is rapidly becoming much more equipment-intensive, NSF support for
instrumentation is holding at approximately 15% of the Chemistry budget. Therefore, it is essential that NSF
maintain at least the current level of support for instrumentation (especially instrument development) in
8) Requests for MRI funds should be limited to $2 million/year per institution rather than the current 2
proposals/year per institution restriction. This would eliminate the bias in favor of large-ticket instrument
requests; i.e. a dollar value rather than a restricted number of proposals would ensure equity across the
different types of instrumentation.
Throughout the workshop it became apparent that many perceptions by the attendees about programs, funding procedures, review processes and interagency interactions may not be accurate. Therefore, it seems clear that NSF needs to turn its attention to better educating the scientific community about programs and review processes. This educational endeavor needs to be more than citing a web site. It requires that NSF personnel and staff become more visible and interactive at scientific meetings, visits be made to chemistry departments at various institutions and that program announcements be more clearly delineated and written. In particular, clarification as to choice of submission to CRIF vs. the MRI program was especially vague among the participants.
It also seemed apparent that the Chemistry Division should build more communication and closer liaisons with the Biological Division. In this regard funding for instrument proposals which have a significant biological component, but which are still predominately chemistry research in nature, could be shared between the divisions. Much of chemistry research today is embroiled in the biological sciences and this natural evolution needs to be encouraged and acknowledged.
Recommendations for future workshops of this nature include the following:
1) Educate your participants beforehand; i.e. provide copies of program guidelines that are to be evaluated.
2) Let participants know at least one month prior to the meeting what the issues are that need addressing. Those
who are informed a priori will be better prepared to address crucial questions about the issues at hand.
3) Provide a template for the final written report.
I. Important Developments in Instrumentation: Panel 1
Gary Glish, Assoc. Professor of Chemistry, University of North Carolina, Moderator
Garyís interests are in the areas of instrument development and the understanding of gas-phase ion chemistry of biological and synthetic macromolecules, particularly as it pertains to tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). In the area of instrument development, Garyís group is involved in the development of quadrupole ion trap mass spectrometry instrumentation and methods, and new hybrid mass spectrometry instrumentation. Developments in instrumentation and methods are applied to the study of ion chemistry to further the understanding of analytical characterization of macromolecules via MS/MS.
1. Description of Panel
This panel focussed on the issues of how to provide access to current state-of-the-art instrumentation and how to support the development of the next generation of new instrumentation.
2. Panel Members
Ad Bax, Laboratory of Chemical Physics, NIDDK, NIH. Adís interest in chemical instrumentation is in the development and application of improved NMR methods for the study of macromolecular structure and dynamics including: 1) methods which provide additional structural constraints for obtaining higher definition of macromolecular structure; 2) methods and procedures for facilitating the resonance assignment process;
3) methods for a better characterization of internal and overall macromolecular dynamics and 4)methods for extending the molecular weight limit of systems that can be studied.
Robert J. Cotter, Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Bob is involved in the development of new methodologies for isolating, sequencing and analyzing peptides by MALDI in order to detect femtomolar concentrations, specifically of antigenic peptides from MHC class I molecules isolated from cancerous tumors. He is also interested in the development of new techniques to study non-covalently bound molecules by MALDI mass spectrometry, making it possible to detect enzyme-substrate, antigen-antibody and receptor-ligand complexes. He is also involved with instrument development in quadrupole ion trap mass spectrometry and time-of-flight mass spectrometry.
Robin Hochstrasser, Department of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania. Robinís research is focused on the ultrafast aspects of condensed phase dynamics. Femtosecond lasers are used and developed to explore otherwise unknown linear and nonlinear properties of molecular systems such as electronic and vibrational energy transfer, electron and proton tunneling and phase relaxation in solids, ultrafast conformational processes in liquids and vibrational energy relaxation in condensed phases. New laser techniques are also used to study protein dynamics, especially of hemoglobin, bacteriorhodopsin and the reaction center whose functions can be triggered by optical pulses. The research uses femtosecond pulsed lasers and high power tunable lasers for nonlinear studies.
Frank H. Laukien, President, Bruker Daltonics, Billerica, MA. As President of Bruker Inc., Frank directs a company involved in instrument development in the fields of NMR and mass spectrometry. Major aspects of the NMR business component are the development of shielded magnets and development of NMR CryoProbes. In the mass spectrometry field, the company is involved in the development of MALDI-TOF, ESI-TOF, ion trap mass spectrometry and FTMS.
Kimberly A. Prather, Department of Chemistry, University of California, Riverside.
Kimís area of research involves the development of analytical methods for continuous monitoring of aerosol particles. Her group has lead development of aerosol-time-flight mass spectrometry (ATOFMS). This is the first analytical technique capable of providing the size and chemical composition of individual aerosol particles in real time. Recently, they developed transportable ATOFMS instruments for field studies.
J. Michael Ramsey, Laser Spectroscopy and Microinstrumentation Group, Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Mikeís research group is involved in basic research, fundamental studies, and the development of problem solving strategies in the field of analytical and physical chemistry. The range of methods and techniques employed include single molecule detection, photophysics in micron sized droplets, non-linear optics, particle mass spectrometry, fiber optic probes, and microfabricated chemical measurement and process systems (lab on a chip). Procedures developed have applications in environmental, clinical, forensic, industrial and military sectors.
Darlene Solomon, Hewlett Packard Laboratories. Darlene is the R&D Manager of the Chemical Systems Department of Hewlett Packard Laboratories. The focus of her department is longer-range investigation of new analytical measurement technology. Technologies include mass spectrometry, liquid phase separations and detection, microfabrication, distributed and field/process-deployable technologies, bioanalysis, miniaturization and bioscience.
3. Questions/issues raised.
This particular panel discussed the following topics.
A. Should the Chemistry Division discontinue the CRIF program and fund instrumentation just through MRI?
NO. CRIF plays an important role that cannot be replaced by MRI.
B. What role should major facilities play in the instrumentation program?
As certain types of instrumentation become very expensive, regional or national facilities will play an important role in providing access to such instrumentation to a very broad range of users. An example was the new generation of high field NMRs (900 MHz), costing several million dollars. With this type of instrumentation, one viable approach should be remote access. Many samples should be able to be analyzed by having the investigator send the sample to the facility and then run the experiments remotely via the internet. For this approach to be successful, planning for this type of user interaction needs to be considered from the outset of the proposal so that it is a real part of the operating procedure of a facility. Because of the cost of the instruments that would be the focus of such a facility, precautions need to be taken to assure the most efficient use. Although higher field NMRs provide decreased data acquisition times, this alone is not a sufficient reason to justify use of a high field instrument. Before having access to a high field NMR in a facility, a user should have thoroughly characterized their samples using lower field instruments. This will insure that only experiments that truly need the high field capabilities will be provided with instrument time.
Regional/national Facilities can contribute in other important ways. For example, such Facilities offer one of the few vehicles for training future R&D instrumentation specialists. Moreover, such Facilities can provide pilot data for institutions (academic, governments labs, and industry) seeking their own multiuser instruments, as well as for junior faculty members seeking to support their individual operating grant proposals. Facilities can also produce new instrumentation and/or techniques that stimulate development of commercial versions by industry. Finally, Facilities offer an ideal site for workshops and hands-on training courses to expand technical expertise in new areas of instrumentation.
C. Is the Chemistry Division funding instrumentation being used primarily for non-NSF research?
It was noted that the line between chemistry and biology was becoming more nebulous as the discussion progressed toward research with a biological focus. Many departments have significant funding from both the NSF Chemistry Division and the NIH. Instrumentation in most departments has been funded by both agencies and many investigators, regardless of the source of their funding, use any and all instrumentation as needed. Thus, while NIH (and DOE, EPA etc.) research is done with NSF funded instrumentation, the reverse is also true. The general feeling was that the Chemistry Division is funding its fair share of instrumentation. However, it was suggested that the Chemistry Division might be able to leverage its instrument budget by cooperating with NIH in the same manner as the NSF Biology Division does. There was also a strong consensus that other branches of Chemistry besides biochemistry must not be ignored. In fact the NSF Chemistry Division is probably the lifeblood of some of the more traditional, albeit now smaller, areas of Chemistry.
D. Should the Chemistry Division encourage instrument development and if so, how?
There was strong agreement that the NSF Chemistry Division should encourage and support instrument development. It was felt that the Chemistry Division was perhaps unique among federal funding agencies in its ability to fund new, innovative instrument development that is not tied to a specific near term application. New instrumentation that is not simply an incremental advance of current capabilities (e.g. higher field magnets) often requires more that the standard 3 year funding period provided by most agencies. Thus, one suggestion that received support was for funding instrumentation proposals for 5 years, but with no renewal.
It was felt that getting funding for instrument development has been especially difficult. None of the panel members, all of whom are significantly involved in various types of instrument development, had NSF Chemistry Division individual P.I. funding for instrument development. The review process was thought to be one reason for this. It was perceived that instrument development proposals were typically reviewed with shared instrument proposals, using the same criteria to evaluate both. This creates a bias against instrument development proposals. It is easy to see the immediate benefit to a number of researchers of a shared instrument proposal, whereas an instrument development proposal has some unknown potential payback that is at least several years in the future. An additional bias may also be created by the note to reviewers requesting special scrutiny of proposals with equipment proposals exceeding $35k. It was noted that this creates a perception that equipment requests are held to a higher standard than other budgetary items and thus such proposals are reviewed more stringently. Although this is not the NSF policy, it was perceived that such a psychology has developed in the reviewer community.
E. Should the Chemistry Division emphasize specific types of instruments?
There was a strong consensus that the Chemistry Division should not emphasize specific types of instruments for funding. Each institution/researcher should know what is most important for them and the best proposals should be funded.
4. Issues in dispute
There were a couple of issues in dispute; little discussion took place on these issues. One issue raised was the percent funding allocated to instrumentation versus the other areas funded by the Chemistry Division. Although there was no disagreement that the whole pot should be bigger, the group felt it would not be fruitful to get into a discussion of how the pot is divided. The other issue in some dispute was a subset of the first: within the Instrumentation pot, how should the dollars be divided, in particular between big-ticket items (e.g. NMR, mass spectrometers, X-ray diffractometers) and smaller items? There was also some discussion of how the money is allocated between the two main big-ticket items. There really wasnít enough information on the distribution of funding between big-ticket and smaller items or within the big-ticket pool to really discuss these issues so no further substantial discussion occurred.
a. The CRIF program should be continued.
b. Regional/National Facilities do have a future role.
c. Effort should be made to provide remote access to instrumentation in Regional Facilities in order to make it
available to as many users as possible.
d. NSF needs to support instrument development.
e. Instrument development proposals should be reviewed separately from shared instrument proposals and have
their own criteria.
f. Do not let small molecule and other areas of chemistry instrumentation get lost in the shadow of biochemistry.
g. Interagency cooperation should be encouraged to leverage instrumentation money.
II. Shared vs. Single User Instrumentation: Panel 2
Terry A. Miller, Ohio Eminent Scholar, Professor of Chemistry, Ohio State University, Moderator; Terry represents a large state University. In addition to being a faculty member in physical chemistry, he serves as Director of the Spectroscopy Institute and Laser Spectroscopy Facility as well as chairing the Chemical Physics Program. His research interests center around the laser spectroscopic detection and characterization of reactive chemical intermediates.
1. Description of Panel
This panel focussed upon the distinctions, and lack thereof, between shared and single user instrumentation. It discussed the role NSF, and in particular CRIF, should play in supporting both needs. It also considered several ancillary issues including optimum investment of NSF resources, distribution of instrument types, and the role of instrument development.
2. Panel Members
Tim M. Swager, Professor of Chemistry, MIT. Timís research involves chemical sensors, supramolecular catalysts, and liquid crystals. He has recently been heavily involved in efforts to update MITís chemical instrumentation.
Catherine Fenselau, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry/Biochemistry, University of Maryland, College Park. She previously directed a NSF regional instrumentation facility at Johns Hopkins. Her research centers about the interaction of drugs with proteins that involve molecular recognition and chemical reaction. Mass spectrometric instrumentation is heavily utilized in her research.
Barry L. Karger, James L. Waters Professor of Analytical Chemistry and Director of the Barnett Institute at Northeastern University. The Barnett Institute is a bioanalytical research center that focuses on the areas of separations and mass spectrometry. His interest for many years has been in the field of high performance liquid chromatography and then capillary electrophoresis. He has been active in the development of capillary electrophoretic systems for DNA sequencing and for coupling separations with mass spectrometry. He has also conducted work on the coupling of microfabricated devices to mass spectrometry for high throughput analysis. His research is in genomics and proteomics.
Donald OíConnor, Associate Director of the Laboratory of Spectroscopic Imaging (LSI), University of Texas at Austin. Don has been Assistant Director of the Center for Fast Kinetics Research (CFKR), University of Texas at Austin, 1995-1998, and Staff Scientist since 1992. CFKR was a multi-user facility, and until 1995 a NIH Biomedical Research Resource, providing electron pulse radiolysis and time-resolved laser spectroscopy as a service, in collaboration, and in-house research.
Tom Farrar, Professor of Analytical Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Among his research interests is the development of both theoretical and experimental techniques involving relaxation in NMR and their application to practical problems of molecular structure and dynamics.
Mary J. Wirth, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Delaware. Her research is at the intersection of analytical and physical chemistry and it involves single-molecule optical spectroscopy of small molecules and proteins at chemical interfaces.
3. Question/Issues Raised During the Panel Discussion
A. Defining the nature of a single user vs. multi-user instrument and the appropriate means of support.
It is clear that the line between single-user and shared instruments is nebulous. Sometimes an instrument obtained under a multi-user grant will evolve to be practically a single user instrument. Similarly, an instrument that has been purchased under a single PIís grant will often develop a "service" function if it is sufficiently useful and versatile.
Nonetheless, the general sentiment is that the distinction between single and multi-user instruments is a useful one. Both kinds of instruments are necessary for chemistry to progress and need to be supported, with CRIF the logical mode of support for the latter and individual PI grants for the former. However instrumentation is supported, it is vital that the students being educated today have access to the state-of-the-art instruments that are common at the place that they will go for employment, e.g., industry. Ergo, it makes no sense to sacrifice instrumentation to increase modestly the portion of the NSF grant budget available for personnel.
B. The relationship between various multi-user funding programs
An issue raised was the relationship on one hand between the CRIF and MRI programs, as well as their relation to instruments and instrument development funded by other agencies, e.g., NIH, DOE, DOD, etc. It was felt that chemistry in general was not doing particularly well in the MRI competition. It appears that this has less to do with science-based considerations and more to do with procedural ones, particularly the two-proposal limit for institutions. This limit is particularly onerous for large institutions where the internal battle may be fierce. Moreover, in this battle where University administrators are trying to optimize the total return, chemistry instrumentation proposals are more naturally the "CRIF-size" while proposals from some other disciplines, e.g., Engineering, Space Sciences, etc., more naturally match the "MRI-size." It was viewed as counter-productive to merge CRIF into MRI. Whenever possible, co-funding with other federal agencies was encouraged to maximize the impact. However close attention must be paid to maintain the unique role of NSF: (i) to provide instrumentation for research and education and (ii) to support fundamental, albeit perhaps risky, research to develop new instruments and new applications for existing instruments.
C. The role of leveraging.
Our panel was a strong supporter of leveraging. NSF is unique in its ability to stimulate Universities to support science and should continue this course. The matching process not only maximizes the investment in science, but also still allows Universities to set their own priorities, by deciding which proposals to match. Finally the matching requirement stimulates the development of additional funding sources such as industry, foundations, donations, company discounts, etc.
D. Development of new Instruments and Techniques
Instrument development has been recently a relatively under-utilized aspect of the CRIF program. The panel, however, urged its support. NSFís support for sometimes risky, but fundamental research in this area is vital. A significant conclusion was that NSF should concentrate on the proposals to develop the underlying science and leave it to others, e.g., SBIRís, to carry instruments to market. Nonetheless it was emphasized that even development of the underlying science may require a relatively long time cycle.
It was also noted that, while certainly not a universal problem, some felt that the prestige in working on instrument development was not as high as hypothesis-driven research. It is critical to recognize the importance of instrumentation to overall advances in science. This recognition seems to be occurring at NIH, as evidenced by a recent report by a working group on Review of Bioengineering and Technology and Instrumentation Development Research.
4. Issues of Debate/Disagreement
The principal issue of disagreement was the distribution of the kinds of instruments CRIF currently funds. Boldly stated, it is mainly NMRís that are funded with mass spectrometers and X-ray diffractomers a distant second, and most everything else "in the noise." However, annual sales for non-imaging NMRís are approximately $200 million/year and the sales for mass spectrometers and separations equipment being approximately $300 million/year and $1.5 billion/year, respectively.
Likewise NMRís, and to a lesser extent mass specs, generally benefit organic and biological chemists, and much less analytical and physical chemists. One can even argue that the former group of chemists get two cracks ? their research is supported by PI grants and even if a CRIF proposal for say an NMR fails, their basic program continues, or conversely relatively weak PI programs will receive a relatively substantial "share" of instrumentation money. On the other hand a PI grant for an analytical or physical chemist will likely include an instrument and there is wide-spread apprehension that should the instrumentation push the grant request too high, it will fall of its own weight, and all will be lost.
The extent of the problem is a matter of considerable debate, but the fact that there is at least the appearance of a problem appears to be acknowledged by all. Two general suggestions towards ameliorating the problem were made. One revolves around the fact that other expensive instrumentation, e.g., lasers: high resolution, ultra-fast, and microscopy may be, in part, evolving towards viable shared user applications, not withstanding the fact that in the past they have not.
A second approach upon which there was fairly general consensus is the "different strokes for different folks" approach. Instrumentation requests, and corresponding budget support, ought to be significantly higher in some sub-disciplines, particularly physical and as appropriate analytical. The agencyís willingness to support such requests via PI proposals needs to be communicated, with perhaps, for example, a more positive statement on instrumentation requests, being sent with proposals to reviewers.
5. Suggestions and Recommendations
The following are based upon the discussion in Section 3 and 4.
a) Maintain CRIF as an independent entity, separate from MRI.
b) Work to minimize non-science-based procedures that limit the effectiveness with which chemistry competes
for MRI funds.
c) Encourage joint agency instrumental funding, while maintaining NSFís unique mission.
d) Continue to encourage strongly matching from Universities.
e) Stimulate, via CRIF, the development of new instrumentation as well as the purchase of existing instruments.
f) Support instrumentation needs "across the board" from PI grants to CRIF to MRI in order that quality in
University education and research may be maintained.
g) Omit pink slip submitted to reviewers with proposals in which request for instruments in excess of $35K are
III. Service Facilities; Service, Research, Teaching: Panel 3
Robin J. Hood, Director, Central Instrumentation Facility and Assistant to the Chair, Department of Chemistry, Wayne State University, Moderator
1. Description of Panel:
This panel focused on the role of shared instrumentation facilities in the university infrastructure. The National Science Foundation instrumentation programs (CRIF, MRI) are a major factor in supporting these facilities. The panel discussed the many varied ways these facilities operate and examined the effectiveness of these NSF programs in meeting the instrumentation needs of universities.
2. Panel Members:
Gary Maciel, Professor of Chemistry and Director of NMR Center, Colorado State University: Gary is the Director of the Colorado State NMR Center at Colorado State University, a position he has held since 1978. He is responsible for one of the most extensive NMR laboratories in the world, especially for solid-state NMR. For a number of years, this center was a NSF funded major research facility. Since it is no longer funded by NSF, the center now has as a primary focus his research program. Gary therefore brings experience both as a director of a national service facility and as an individual faculty member trying to maintain an instrumentation intensive research program.
David Hercules, Centennial Professor and Chair, Department of Chemistry, Vanderbilt University: David is chairman of Chemistry at Vanderbilt University and former chairman of Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh. As a long-time member of university administration, he is particularly interested in how to build and maintain the scientific infrastructure of the university. He also maintains an active research program in mass spectrometry and surface chemistry, requiring considerable instrumentation.
Carol Haney, Visiting Assistant Professor and Director, Mass Spectrometry Facility, North Carolina State University: Carol is the Director of the Mass Spectrometry Facility and a Visiting Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University. She represents the views of a director of a service facility for seven years and of a faculty member with a research program in Ag-biochemistry using mass spectrometry. She is interested in core facilities and the research infrastructure of the university.
F. Fleming Crim, John E. Willard Professor and Chair, Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison: Fleming is chair of the Department of Chemistry at a major research university and has interest in how to fund the university infrastructure. He is not a client of service facilities in NMR or MS, but his research program makes extensive use of the machine and electronics shops. His research program uses lasers to study chemical dynamics, instrumentation that cannot be part of a multi-user. He is concerned with instrumentation for individual investigators.
Charles Wade, IBM Almaden Research Center and Co-Director of NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center in Polymer Interfaces and Macromolecular Assemblies: Charles manages the materials analysis and characterization department of the IBM Almaden Research Center and brings an industrial perspective to the panel. He was a faculty member at the University of Texas-Austin before joining IBM. His research interest is NMR of materials. He is the co-director of NSF Materials Research, Science and Engineering Center on Polymer Interfaces and Macromolecular Assemblies; the only NSF funded center with a full industrial partner. He is particularly interested in joint academic/industrial research programs.
Jacquelyn Gervay, Associate Professor of Chemistry, University of Arizona
Jacquelyn is a faculty member interested in the design and synthesis of new chemotherapeutics. She is a major user of service facilities, particularly NMR, and represents the typical client involved in synthetic chemistry. She is concerned with the cost structure and overhead associated with service facilities.
3. Questions/Issues Raised During the Panel Discussion
Most research universities established multi-user shared instrumentation facilities about twenty years ago as new, expensive analytical instrumentation such as Fourier transform infra-red spectrometers, nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers and mass spectrometers moved from the research programs of individual investigators to resources needed and used routinely by the non-specialist. The university shared instrumentation service facilities were set up to manage and maintain these instruments, and to provide training and operators for the more casual user. No standard model exists for these facilities. They evolved as the universities struggled to address their individual priorities within the limitations of their resources. Today, service facilities are an important part of the university infrastructure and, although often located within the Chemistry Department, frequently serve a broader base of researchers. Providing adequate resources for new instruments, upgrades, supplies and maintenance, and personnel within these service facilities is exceedingly difficult. The panel represents a wide range of interests including current and former facilities managers, university administrators, and researchers who use the facilities. All are concerned about the role of these facilities in supporting service, research and teaching at the university and the role of the National Science Foundation in maintaining these resources.
A. Are service facilities important to the infrastructure of the university?
The first issue of discussion was the importance of the shared instrumentation service facilities to the research support infrastructure of the university. While much of the funding for the purchase of major instrumentation comes from federal programs like CRIF and MRI within NSF, the university often provides considerable matching funds. In addition, most of the costs for supplies, maintenance and personnel are from university funds. This allows the broad based research community to have access to modern analytical instrumentation at very low rates, far below the actual cost of operation. These facilities are an important component to the overall research enterprise. Without these service facilities, modern chemical research would be much more difficult, expensive and inefficient. These facilities are usually accessible to various departments within the university and thus provide important resources to the entire university infrastructure, not just chemistry.
B. Is the CRIF program important to building and maintaining service facilities?
The next issue of discussion was the importance and effectiveness of the CRIF program in building and maintaining this infrastructure. A survey of the panel indicated that much of the instrumentation in their respective facilities was purchased with support from the CRIF program. There was a strong feeling that the CRIF program, in the Chemistry Division of NSF, was able to be particularly responsive to the needs of chemistry departments. There was general agreement that programs like MRI do not serve chemistry as well due to their broader focus and because of internal university competition, which ensues prior to submission to NSF. There was concern that the CRIF program was under-funded given the needs, but that it was still very effective and extremely important in maintaining the research infrastructure.
C. Is the junior faculty program within CRIF successful?
The effectiveness of the junior faculty program within CRIF was considered. Approximately fifteen percent of the limited CRIF budget is used for instrumentation for faculty within the first 15 months of their initial appointment. This is a period during which junior faculty are setting up their research programs and have access to start up funds. How important is it to supplement start up funding in order to get the research programs off to a productive start? This is only the third year of the program so little data are yet available. The panel felt that as data became available, the program should be carefully examined for its effectiveness given that it takes funds away from the very effective multi-user facilities and that such start-up funds should be provided by the university for new assistant professors.
D. What programs should CRIF emphasize?
The next topic of discussion was, given that the CRIF budget has not and probably would not change, what programs should the CRIF emphasize? The multi-user shared instrumentation facilities are by far the most effective way to have impact given the limited funds available. However, we must recognize that not all research programs can make use of shared facilities and not all instrumentation can be shared. The NSF must continue to find ways to also support national facilities and the needs of individual investigators. An additional problem faced by individual investigators is obtaining funding for institutional match and ongoing maintenance costs. This is often more difficult than when these costs can be justified over many users. Again, the panel felt that increasing the budget would be the best solution, but, given the present level of funding, the CRIF program was effectively prioritizing the needs.
E. How do service facilities contribute to teaching?
The role of service facilities in teaching was discussed. The panel was in agreement that we all do it and we do it effectively. Graduate students and postdoctoral students are not only trained to operate modern analytical instrumentation, but they also learn to apply a variety of techniques to solving research problems. Most service facilities also contribute to the teaching program for undergraduate students as an adjunct to their primary role in the research program. The suggestion to use CRIF money to target the training aspect of the facilities was felt unnecessary. The funds would be better spent for the purchase of modern instrumentation and allow the facilities to continue to provide training from other resources.
F. Should CRIF funds be used for individual investigator projects?
A suggestion was made that CRIF funds should be used primarily for the purchase of core instrumentation and that more specialized ancillary equipment be the responsibility of individual investigators.
G. Does the CRIF program adequately support instrument upgrades?
The question of the purchase of new versus upgrading of existing instrumentation was considered. The panel felt that the present review process was working well and that the CRIF funds were being utilized effectively.
H. Are CRIF funds being used to support non-chemistry projects?
Finally, the issue of CRIF funded instrumentation by non-chemistry projects was considered. Shared facilities obtain instrumentation from a number of different programs and support a variety of research both within and outside of chemistry. The opportunity to have access to a broad range of instrumentation is very important and this multidisciplinary aspect strengthens the facilities. The panel felt that this was not a problem and in fact should be encouraged.
4. Issues of Debate/Disagreement
There was surprising agreement among the diverse panel as to the effectiveness and focus of the CRIF program.
5. Suggestions and Recommendations
a. The CRIF program is important and effective in the service facilities and contributes to maintaining the
b. If it isnít broken, it should not be fixed. Basically the CRIF program is working well.
c. The CRIF program needs more funding to effectively accomplish its goals.
II. Instrumentation Needs for Institutional Research Infrastructure: Panel 4
Susan M. Lunte, Departments of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Chemistry, University of Kansas, Moderator
1. Description of Panel
This panel focused primarily on the differences in equipment needs for small schools compared to large schools. The role that CRIF and MRI play in under-graduate research and education was discussed. In addition, the role of national research facilities in providing research infrastructure for both types of schools was examined.
2. Panel Members
Tom Pochapsky, Professor of Chemistry, Brandeis University: Tom represents a small, privately funded institution of 5,000 undergraduate and 2,000 graduate students. Tom has been at Brandeis since 1989. He received the NSF Young Investigator Award in 1992 and is currently a member of the NIH Metallobiochemistry study section. His research involves the study of the structure and dynamics of metal-containing proteins by NMR.
Lee Magid, Professor of Chemistry, University of Tennessee: Lee represents a larger university (26,000 students) as well as the userís perspective concerning National Research Facilities. She has held numerous teaching and administrative positions since first coming to the University of Tennessee as an assistant professor in 1973. These positions include Professor of Chemistry, Associate Dean for Research for the College of Arts and Sciences, and Executive Assistant to the Chancellor at the University of Tennessee as well as Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies at the University of Kentucky. Lee is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is a member of the committee on developing a federal materials facilities strategy and the Spallation Neutron Source Scientific Advisory Committee. Her research involves the use of static and dynamic neutron scattering to elucidate microstructures.
Chrys Wesdemiotis, Associate Professor of Chemistry, University of Akron
Chrys has been at the University of Akron since 1989 and represents a medium-size public university (ca. 5,000 graduate and 19,000 undergraduate students). The University of Akron has specialized in the area of polymer science. Chrysí research interests include fundamental gas-phase chemistry studies and analytical mass spectrometry of polymers and materials.
James Cassat, Director of Biophysics and Physiological Sciences Branch, Cell Biology and Biophysics Division, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health: Jim represents the National Institutes of Health on the panel. He is responsible for many of the instrumentation grants that go through NIH as part of a research proposal. He has been at NIH since 1978 and he has held the positions of Executive Secretary of the Molecular and Cellular Biophysics Study Section, Program Administrator of the Genetics Program, Chief of the Biophysics Branch of the NIGMS, and Deputy Director of the Biophysics and Physiological Sciences Branch. He is currently director of the Biophysics and Physiological Sciences Branch of the NIGMS.
Dennis Lichtenberger, Professor and Chair, University of Arizona
Dennis represents a large school with a student population of 37,000. He has been at the University of Arizona since 1976. He has been a Professor of Chemistry since 1987 and Department Head since 1994. Dennis provides the perspective of the department chair at a large university as well as that of an individual who uses and provides shared instrumentation. His research program is concerned with the development of methods for the characterization of electron distribution and bonding in molecules. A special feature of his program the use of high-resolution gas phase photoelectron spectroscopy, where he has developed instrumentation that is not matched elsewhere. His laboratory, therefore, has had numerous collaborations with other researchers in this country and around the world who need information from this technique. The development of shared instrumentation facilities has been of central importance to this work.
Karen Morse, President, Western Washington University: Karen has been president of Western Washington University since 1993. The college is an exclusively undergraduate institution with approximately 11,700 full and part time students. During her tenure at WWU, she has pre-sided over the completion of a science complex for the 21st century, including new chemistry, biology, and science, mathematics and technology education buildings. Prior to her position at Western Washington University, Karen was at Utah State University, where she served as a professor of Chemistry, Head of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, Dean of the College of Science, and later as Provost. In 1997, Morse received the Francis P. Garvan-John M. Olin Award, one of the American Chemical Societyís highest honors. She has published extensively and has been awarded patents.
3. Questions/Issues Raised During the Panel Discussion
A. Should the multi-user portion of CRIF be discontinued?
B. How do the needs of non-Ph.D. granting institutions differ from those of Ph.D. granting institutions?
The importance of undergraduate research in providing employees for local industry and qualified candidates for graduate school was emphasized. Hands-on experience with state-of-the-art instrumentation makes students better qualified for jobs following graduation. Many of the B.S. chemists will go into local industries. It was also noted that about 50% of the graduate student pool is from non-Ph.D.-granting institutions. These students need to have research experience prior to attending graduate school if they are to become good graduate students.
There are numerous unique challenges for the smaller schools. One major challenge is how to replace or upgrade old existing instrumentation with new instrumentation of the same kind (i.e., new 300 MHz NMR). It is believed that most granting agencies expect proposals to request the newest and hottest item in instrumentation. This makes it difficult to compete for funds when one needs only to replace or upgrade an instrument that is satisfactory for the undergraduate research program.
A second challenge is the increased pressure on the existing instrumentation. This is true in both large and small schools. As the number of students and the local client base increase, there may be a need for multiple instruments. An example would be the need for more than one liquid chromatography system. One of the schools represented could act as an instrument center for a number of local colleges to maximize efficient use of the instrumentation. In this case, the availability of multiple instruments is very important.
Another major challenge for small schools is the availability of matching funds. There is often only a small amount of money available. For a small, publicly funded institution, money comes from state appropriation and new enrollments. There is also definitely a problem of variable state support. Some states are very supportive, with matching monies for instrumentation; some are not. In many cases, small schools have to depend totally on tuition and enrollment money for matching funds. The level of overhead generated is not sufficient to provide matching money for instrumentation. Larger institutions can use overhead generated from large research grants for matching funds or equipment maintenance. In one of the smaller private universities, matching is dealt with after the grant is funded with the assurance that "God will provide" when the money is needed.
It was also noted that small schools need money for research equipment more than for personnel. Undergraduates are cheap labor and work for credit or minimum wages. The major concern of these schools is the cost of the instrumentation and money for maintenance costs.
A list of instrumentation needs that are absolutely essential for undergraduate training in chemistry was given in one presentation. These include computer and workstations, FT NMR, GC/LC, MS, multipurpose electrochemical instrumentation, optical spectrometers, and vacuum systems. Other items deemed important but not essential include lasers, X-rays, Raman, AA and ultracentrifugation. There was a concern that even more instrumentation will be needed with the current emphasis toward problem-based learning.
The faculty from the medium-size and larger Universities agreed that CRIF is very important for funding of fundamental research and that it provides money for instrumentation that could not be acquired through other funding agencies. They stressed that undergraduate education is very important at large institutions. However, instrumentation used for teaching and undergraduate research is often piggybacked off of research grants. There was a concern regarding finding funds for the purchase of medium-size instrumentation. Examples would include atomic absorption, liquid chromatography and gas chromatography.
There is an increased emphasis on the problem-based learning approach for undergraduate chemistry. As part of this discussion, a concern was voiced by the small schools that they might not have adequate instrumentation to implement this type of laboratory work, while larger schools can use research instrumentation temporarily for this approach.
Instrument maintenance is a problem in both large and small schools, and the university support is extremely variable. The smaller schools generally had maintenance costs as part of the university budget. At least one medium-size school uses industrial contracts and service fees to pay for service contracts. Large schools use service fees to pay for maintenance costs. In the larger schools the university funds personnel; operating costs are covered by user charges.
C. Should CRIF continue to support major Facilities?
It was agreed that major facilities are important and should be continued. It was emphasized over and over again that funds for travel and lodging at the center should be made available, as this would encourage more users, especially from small schools. In general, it was felt that, at this point, proximity of the center to your university or "knowing someone" at the center were key factors for someone to actually use the facility. Therefore, outreach by the center is critical.
Regarding national research centers, it was agreed that multi-agency cooperation is difficult. In particular, the center has to be big (in dollar amounts) to justify personnel costs for each agency in administering the center. It is important for one agency to be the steward of the center.
The major challenges for the initiation of a multi-user national facility are (1) building a scientific case for its existence, (2) finding funds for construction and operating costs, (3) providing user support, and (4) ensuring continuing upgrades of instrumentation. It was noted that continued engagement of scientists and engineers in priority settings across the spectrum of disciplines and funding sources is essential.
New models for interagency cooperation should be encouraged (this is also important at the CRIF level; for example cooperation between NSF and NIH). Models for funding construction, operation and upgrading of instruments are currently variable (Participating Research Teams, Collaborative Access Teams and Instrument Development Teams). The quality of centers can vary widely with respect to instrument development programs, availability of instrumentation to faculty, ancillary facilities for sample preparation, etc., and outreach and education of the novice user.
D. Should the shared instrumentation portion of CRIF emphasize a few specific types of instrumentation (e.g. NMR and MS)?
E. Is CRIF having an impact?
F. What role should academic chemistry departmental instrumentation facilities play in supporting academic research instrumentation in the overall scheme of federal and other support?
It was agreed that the Chemistry department is the best place to house the instruments that are requested through CRIF. NSF provides money for instruments used for education. There are few other sources of funding that have this as part of their mission. The presence of instrumentation in a chemistry department may increase the number of collaborations with other disciplines as they are forced to come to chemistry to run their experiments. Of course, the best location of instrumentation is dependent on what type of instrumentation is being used.
4. Issues of Debate/Disagreement
One topic that was debated was how to get states to put more matching money into the acquisition of research instrumentation. It was suggested that perhaps NSF should require state matching funds. However, some of the panelists thought that this money would end up coming out of the total university budget and ultimately not provide a net benefit to the university.
Another topic of controversy was the perception of CRIF by the small schools as a source primarily of funds for large schools. NSF pointed out that small schools actually do quite well competing for these funds.
5. Suggestions and Recommendations
a. Examine matching money requirements. Be more creative with matching money; for example, can one use
capital development (new buildings, etc.) as matching for instrumentation grants; count operation, service and
maintenance costs as a match to the proposal; industrial matches.
b. Matching should still be required. It is desirable to keep the number of funded proposals as high as possible;
this also shows that the institution has a vested interest in the proposal and the capability to maintain the
c. Change the dollar limit above which matching is required from $80K to $100K to make it easier for small
schools to get equipment.
d. Make CRIF more visible to small schools. The perception is that CRIF is for large schools even though NSF
reports that small schools have above average success in competing for the money. On suggestion was to add
an REU-CRIF to the program announcement. It needs to be made clearer that part of the expected
shared-instrument use at small schools is in the instructional laboratory program. Overall, there needs to be a
PR campaign to small schools to educate them about CRIF.
e. There was a concern about how the proposals were reviewed; that they were reviewed only by professors
from large universities with major research programs who cannot appreciate what can be accomplished at the
under-graduate level. NSF has difficulty identifying reviewers from small schools with the technical expertise
to review CRIF proposals from small schools. The suggestion was made that undergraduate institutions
submitting CRIF proposals suggest potential reviewers.
f. Centralization of equipment and instrumentation through regional teaching centers (with community colleges)
or instrumentation centers. This led to a discussion of the new initiative by NSF on regional sites for
educators in chemistry that is being used to get large schools to interact with undergraduate institutions. It was
noted that it is possible to submit instrumentation as part of the budget in this program.
g. National research centers should continue and increase outreach activities. Lodging and travel for
investigators should be part of the budget in order to encourage both small and large school collaborations.
h. Interagency cooperation in the formation of national research centers and the funding of instrumentation grants
1999 NSF Workshop Directory