After 10 years at CARS, Cookson moves on to beamline development at the Australian Synchrotron.

ChemMatCARS recently bid farewell to beamline scientist David Cookson, who since 1998 was an integral part of the creation of the 15-ID beamline and the development of its user community. In January 2008, David took up a new post in his native Australia, becoming the scientific and beamline development manager for the Australian Synchrotron. Initially, Cookson will be responsible for completing and commissioning the present beamlines. After that he’ll focus on bringing in new science. “If new beamlines need to be built or developed, overseeing that will be my responsibility,” he says. At full capacity the Australian Synchrotron will offer more than 30 beamlines; already 5 stations have beam and 4 more are under construction.

With the move to Australia, Cookson finds his career returning full circle, as he earned his Ph.D. in physics (specifically neutron scattering) from Monash University in Melbourne, just across the road from his new employer. After stints at Kodak and the Photon Factory (Tsukuba, Japan), he came to ChemMatCARS in 1998.

Throughout his time at the Center for Advanced Radiation Sources (CARS), Cookson was seconded from the Australian Synchrotron Research Program (ASRP). In that role, he was responsible for coordinating the ASRP’s staff and programs at the Advanced Photon Source, which included research at ChemMatCARS, BioCARS, and several beamlines in what is now the X-Ray Operations and Research section of the APS X-ray Science Division. In this capacity he also acted as a liaison for the Australian government, hosting diplomats and dignitaries at the Advanced Photon Source (APS) and generally fostering the close scientific ties between the facility and Australia. Later he took on an official role within CARS, becoming Deputy Project Manager for ChemMatCARS.

“Personally, I’m proud of what ChemMatCARS has done,” Cookson says. “The hardware is only part of the solution. You can have the best hardware in the world but without the ability to communicate, and bring in users, and nurture new users, it’s useless. CARS has managed to keep a very clear sense of serving a user community, of serving the science.”

Cookson’s views on beamline development and operation—always forthright and articulate—have significantly shaped the nature of ChemMatCARS, and his distinctive influence and lively humor will be greatly missed.