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User Program

You will need to submit proposals to work with us for free. In general, users whose open research proposals are accepted may use EMSL resources free of charge. You will also need to find out which science area and expertise your research belongs to. 

How proposal calls work 

EMSL proposal calls are posted on our EMSL website’s proposal call announcement page. Research projects are funded through open calls for proposals that are submitted and then competitively peer reviewed.   

Proposal call opportunities are also offered through the Facilities Integrating Collaborations for User Science (FICUS) program, which provides researchers with access to the world-class resources of multiple user facilities through a single proposal. FICUS, spearheaded by EMSL and the Joint Genome Institute (JGI), has expanded to include the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) and the Bio-SANS beamline at the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) through the Center for Structural Molecular Biology (CSMB). A separate FICUS call provides access to EMSL and the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility.

To find out how EMSL’s resources and instrumentation could be used in your research, contact the corresponding EMSL science area and Integrated Research Platform leaders. Review available instrumentation and resources before submitting your proposal. Review FICUSLarge-Scale Research, and Exploratory projects for examples of successfully funded proposals.

Submission preparation steps

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    Get started

    Create an account on the EMSL User Portal and familiarize yourself with user program requirements and policies. As part of the registration process, you will either need to register for an ORCID iD or enter your existing ORCID iD on your "User Info" page. Familiarize yourself with the requirements and policies for EMSL users, including  EMSL’s Data Management Policy and Terms and Conditions of EMSL Use. If you have additional questions, contact User Services.

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    Develop a research plan

    Successful user projects must be aligned with EMSL’s scientific mission and capabilities as described in these pages.

    Learn about EMSL’s science areas: Functional and Systems Biology, Environmental Transformations and Interactions, and Computing, Analytics, and Modeling and their related Integrated Research Platforms.

    Browse the list of EMSL instruments and resources to inform your research plan. 

    Contact EMSL staff to discuss your research needs. Staff can help you develop and refine your research plan to best suit EMSL capabilities. 

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    Submit a letter of intent

    Briefly describe your project on a letter of intent, following the specific proposal call guidance. Upload your project description to the User Portal.

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    Submit a full proposal

    If your Letter of Intent meets the stated criteria for responsiveness and mission alignment, you will be invited to submit a full proposal. Full proposals for this call may only be submitted by invitation.