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The National User Facility Organization (NUFO)

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At the January 2011 RHIC Open Forum meeting Susan White-DePace made a presentation on the National User Facility Organization (NUFO). For those of you who were unable to participate in that event, we would like to share information about this important organization.

NUFO is an organization that currently represents 39 user facilities representing the interests of 30,000 users who conduct research at U.S. national scientific user facilities, as well as scientists from U.S. universities, laboratories, and industry who use facilities outside the United States. NUFO facilitates communication among users, user organizations, facility administrators, and other stakeholders. Discussion topics include the benefits and significance of research conducted at user facilities, as well as their operational needs. NUFO seeks to provide a unified message at the national level on issues of resources for science, economic competitiveness, and education for the next-generation scientific workforce. NUFO is organized into two major branches: User Organization Representatives and User Administrators. User Organizations Representatives focus primarily on outreach activities, whereas User Administrators focus on streamlining processes to facilitate access. Both branches work together closely to fulfill the overall NUFO mission. An elected Steering Committee consisting of three user organization representatives, three user administrators, three additional elected members, and three appointed members conducts the business of NUFO between annual meetings. Additional information about NUFO can be found at http://www.nufo.org.

Communication and Outreach is NUFO’s primary mission

For those of you who may be unaware, NUFO played a fundamental role in the revisions of the DOE Order on Foreign Visits & Assignments in 2010. The Steering Committee will be working with the DOE on the issue of User Agreements in 2011. NUFO has also been building its portfolio of outreach events which are summarized briefly below.

NUFO’s most important outreach activity for 2011 is the planned User Science Exhibition on Capitol Hill, scheduled for April 7, see further details below.

One outcome of the Educational Outreach Symposium on June 9, 2010, was a renewed emphasis for NUFO on various kinds of outreach. You can read the summary report here (.pdf).

Among the activities recommended in the report are several already completed or in process:

  • Participation in the October 23-24, 2010 National Science and Engineering Festival in Washington DC (See the October NUFO News article.)
  • The initiation of a Facebook page, which you can view on the NUFO homepage. Please join us and share this information with your colleagues.
  • Plans to have a presence at a number of national scientific meetings (APS, AAAS, AAS, ACS, MRS). See the NUFO calendar on the homepage.

The report also contained long-term recommendations for NUFO to consider, all focusing on communication mechanisms. The most beneficial current strategy seems to be optimizing the use of today’s social media (such as establishing a Facebook page, among others). The Steering Committee is committed to raising awareness and appreciation of science and has appointed a standing committee to work on outreach initiatives. Carla Vale (BNL) and Katherine Kantardjieff (California State Polytechnic University Pomona) will head this committee. The Steering Committee needs help with this effort and would welcome volunteers to work with Carla and Katherine. If you are interested in participating, please send an email to info@nufo.org. NUFO outreach for the future will be a topic on the agenda of the next NUFO Annual Meeting scheduled for June 27-29 at SSRL. We hope you will participate in that meeting.

User Science Exhibition on Capitol Hill

NUFO has been officially invited by several Members of Congress to hold an exhibition on Capitol Hill to educate Members and staff about the research being conducted at national user facilities, as well as the ultimate benefit of this research to the United States. With concurrence from NUFO members and their funding agencies, including the Department of Energy’s Office of Science (which supports the majority of NUFO facilities), NUFO is well along in preparations for this event.

The general plan for the exhibition is to have five major posters representing NUFO as a whole. NUFO’s four pillars posters on Science Education, Scientific Achievements, Economic Competitiveness, and Fundamental Knowledge will surround a large map of the United States which will illustrate the location of NUFO facilities and institutions represented at each NUFO facility.

Individual facility posters are now being prepared and at least one user from each NUFO facility will be attending the event to discuss its facility’s poster with exhibition attendees from Capitol Hill.

Stay tuned for further information about NUFO in upcoming articles of Inside RHIC.

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