Summer Sundays Offer Virtual Tour of Brookhaven Lab

Brookhaven National Laboratory hosted a series of live online events in place of its in-person tour program for Summer Sundays 2021. Video replays are available now.

Summer Sundays

Every year, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory welcomes thousands of community members to the Lab for open house events called Summer Sundays. Visitors get to meet the Lab’s scientists and tour a different world-class science facility each week, including the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), and the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN)—all DOE Office of Science User Facilities.

Following the success of Brookhaven’s virtual Summer Sundays program in 2020 and to continue limiting the spread of COVID-19, the Lab returned to an online format for Summer Sundays 2021. Over three Sundays in July and August, the Lab hosted a series of live events, each of which included a guided tour of a Brookhaven Lab facility and Q&A sessions with the Lab’s scientists.

“Every year we look forward to hosting our Summer Sundays events and 2021 was no different,” said Summer Sunday coordinator Kahille Dorsinvil. “Thankfully, with technology and our incredible staff, we were able to engage with visitors in a virtual setting again. We were even able to stream one of this year’s Summer Sundays live from a scientific facility, giving online viewers another unique look inside of NSLS-II. Each of our events this year featured panel speakers from a variety of career perspectives, professional experience, and scientific interest, so we were able to share a lot of different kinds of information about what it’s like to work here and what has been going on recently with our science.”


The virtual Summer Sundays series launched on July 25 with NSLS-II. Viewers saw three of the facility’s 28 experimental stations, called beamlines, where scientists use ultrabright x-rays to study the chemical, structural, and electronic makeup of materials. First, Cherno Jaye, a scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), gave an overview of the Spectroscopy Soft and Tender (SST) beamline, which is funded and operated by NIST. Then, NSLS-II scientist Lu Ma discussed battery research at the Quick x-ray Absorption and Scattering (QAS) beamline and NSLS-II scientist Vivian Stojanoff covered biology and COVID-19 research at the Highly Automated Macromolecular Crystallography (AMX) beamline. After each beamline tour, the scientists joined event hosts Matt Whitaker, a geologist at Stony Brook University, and John Hill, Director of NSLS-II, for Q&A sessions.


On Aug. 1, Summer Sundays continued with a virtual tour of RHIC. Main control room operator William Jackson brought viewers to various stops around the RHIC accelerator complex, including the accelerator tunnel where ions circulate at nearly the speed of light, a liquid helium refrigeration plant that cools RHIC’s superconducting magnets to nearly absolute zero, and the STAR experiment—a 1,200-ton detector the size of a three-story house. Viewers were able to pose questions to a panel of scientists including physicist Gene van Buren, electrical engineer Kayla Hernandez, machine specialist Travis Shrey, physicist Matthieu Vallette, and Elke-Caroline Aschenauer, leader of RHIC’s Cold Quantum Chromodynamics group. The discussion was moderated by accelerator physicist Daniel Marx and included insight into the upcoming Electron-Ion Collider


To close out the Summer Sundays season on Aug. 8, Brookhaven Lab gave a virtual tour of CFN, where researchers study ultrasmall science. Viewers saw four facilities within this nanoscale science research center. First up was the nanofabrication facility, guided by the facility’s leader Aaron Stein. Next, materials scientist Sooyeon Hwang demonstrated the scanning transmission electron microscope and materials scientist Gregory Doerk showed off the new quantum material press. Finally, physicist Percy Zahl gave a tour of his custom-built microscope he designed, called a low-temperature UHV scanning tunneling/force microscope. All the scientists were joined by CFN Assistant Director for Strategic Partnerships Priscilla Antunez and CFN Users’ Executive Committee Chair Trishelle-Copeland Johnson for Q&A sessions after each tour stop.

Brookhaven Lab plans to return to an in-person public tour format for Summer Sundays 2022, as conditions permit.

Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit

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