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Science Studio

Page history last edited by ron.evans@nic.bc.ca 8 years, 2 months ago

Science Studio


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Science Studio

Location:  University of Western Ontario





Science Studio Contacts:

Michael Bauer
Principal Investigator, Science Studio Network-Enabled Platforms Project
Professor, Department of Computer Science
The University of Western Ontaio

Other possible contacts:


Beamline/Research Team Leader

Prof. N. Stewart McIntyre
519.661.2111 x 86703

VESPERS Research Scientist

Dr. Marina Suominen-Fuller
519.661.2111 x 86703

Beamline Scientist

Dr. Renfei Feng

Western Nanofabrication Facility:


Participating institutions:

Canadian Light Source, University of Western Ontario, CANARIE, Concordia University, SHARCNET, IBM

Funding Source(s):


  • CANARIE (this funding is over now), NSERC, NRC, and the University of Saskatchewan
  • Funding for the Analysis Software came from CANARIE
  • Ontario supplied some funding to address Internet real-time issues



Science Studio is a web portal providing remote access to synchrotron user office, beamline, and data storage facilities.

Science Studio is an open source development framework for remote control of scientific apparatus that also provides many other useful services for managing the life cycle of executing experiments, creating proposals for usage of these devices, scheduling resources, and providing a shared collaborative environment where users can share tasks, files, data, and online experiments. It also provides the service oriented infrastructure for integrating with existing systems.

Science Studio is a distributed system that provides the end user with a common interface to the devices and analysis programs they need to run scientific experiments. Science Studio can be set up as a standalone node or can set up as a satellite node to a central hub or some combination of the two.


  • Policies are primarily defined at the facility end as they are the ones who prescribe the safety protocols that must be followed and what training and skill level equipment users must have.
  • Users must have an account with both Science Studio and the facility they are using.
  • Users must have gone through the training and attained a certain level of expertise as if they were doing their work at the facility they are using.
  • Beyond that, Science Studio is open to anyone who qualifies to use the facilities.




  • Science Studio is free to anyone who qualifies to use the facilities.
  • Once a user has been validated as a qualified researcher, they must apply for an account and can then form a research team who can all access Science Studio with privileges defined by their account and qualified expertise. Some members have manipulation control access others only observe.
  • Science Studio only supplies web access to the facilities and provides some online data analysis tools.
  • Some individual facilities may charge service fees, but this is beyond the control of Science Studio.




  • Vespers Synchrotron Beamline used for x-ray production (this can target 10,000 points on the sample to take images for the analysis of strain or to map sub strata identifying weaknesses or flaws.)
  • Western Nanofabrication Facility (This uses a scanning electron microscope.)
  • Web servers
  • Science Studio cameras are located inside the beamline to see beam location and sample positioning




  • Science Studio uses a service oriented architecture built around Apache, Java, MySQL
  • The Central Authentication Service (CAS) (open source) is done by Science Studio, which manages accounts between Science Study and Canadian Light Source.
  • Skype is used.
  • Science Studio enables researchers to view and store images as they are generated.  The analysis software also allows real-time analysis of the images so the researcher can adjust the targeting location on the sample as needed to get the best results.


Scheduling Solutions:


  • Equipment scheduling is done by each facility so this is not part of what Science Studio does.
  • The Western Nanofabrication Facility requires an operator so that must be scheduled at the facility.
  • At one point Science Studio looked at an open source package out of Australia, YAWL (Yet Another Workflow Language), but did not adopt it.  YAWL was picked up by Canadian Light Source.  YAWL doesn't really deal with scheduling, but deals with work flow.  (How do you ensure the researcher has met all the requirements/constraints before authorizing him/her to run beamline?)


Academic level:

Post graduate and professional.

Academic area:


  • x-ray source material science research is multi-disciplinary (chemistry, physics, geology, etc)
  • Nanotechnology is also concerned with materials research
  • Used by material engineers


Lab names:

This field doesn’t apply to Science Studio.


Science Studio has been in production less than a year (as of November 2011).  They have had a dozen research teams with 3 to 4 and up to 20 researchers/team.  In theory a large number of people could watch experiment runs.


  • [Dan]: It’s interesting that the description of this project is very similar to our concept for RWSL. The big difference is that we are serving run-of-the-mill science lab experiments while they are talking about a synchrotron and nanofabrication facility.
  • Science Studio gives researchers access to large scale science equipment through a web-based system that provides remote access, cameras to look at facilities and sample
  • It allows management of the experiments, team, actual lab, and allows researchers to analyze labs in real time.
  • Studio provides the capability for researchers to remotely control science equipment if they are qualified.
  • Science Studio gets around need for travel.
  • Future Plans:  Science Studio wants to extend their service to other facilities, to other kinds of equipment where remote control of experimental setups (earthquake simulations), to (maybe) engineering (control theory lab) for education*, and to haptic interfaces.  (*Their funding requires there be a research component.)
  • They also want to look at underlying technical problems for near real time access to robotic devices with haptic interfaces and focus on research questions like latency, bandwidth, and protocol stacks.  There is
  • funding source in Ontario for this kind of research
  • Some Advice to us: CANARIE has drops in various cities so to access the CANARIE network we would need to work with our institution, province, and CANARIE.
  • CANARIE is now submitting the proposal for their next 5 years of funding to Industry Canada expects to know in April.
  • There is not a lot of funding available for this kind of work in Canada.


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