Policy for the Operation of the Samuel Roberts Noble Microscopy Laboratory

The Samuel Roberts Noble Microscopy Laboratory (SRNML) is an organized research unit at the University of Oklahoma. As such, it is under the auspices of the Vice President for Research (VPR). The SRNML has been established to provide a University wide resource and facility. Its use by as many members of the University community as possible is strongly encouraged. Access to the SRNML and its microscopes is open to all potential University users who have a need for the facilities in their research, either sponsored or unsponsored. Use of the SRNML is limited to faculty, students, post-doctorates, research staff and visiting scientists at the University of Oklahoma as they pursue their research and/or creative activity. The SRNML is not available to individuals or companies not affiliated with the University of Oklahoma, unless their work is performed by University of Oklahoma researchers on a contract or grant administered by the Grants and Contracts office.

SRNML Location and Instrumentation

The SRNML is located on the second floor of the Animal House, the building between Richards Hall (Zoology) and the Botany/Microbiology Building. The SRNML also occupies two rooms in Botany/Microbiology. Entrance to the SRNML is easily achieved from the second floor of the Botany/Microbiology Building or from the stairs at the northwest corner of the building.

Currently, the SRNML houses transmission electron and scanning electron microscopes. Among the microscopes available for use are:

  1. Zeiss EM 10A transmission electron microscope.
  2. LEO/Zeiss DSM-960A scanning electron microscope with x-ray analysis and digital imaging.
  3. JEOL JEM-2000-FX intermediate voltage transmission electron microscope with x-ray analysis, digital imaging and EELS.
  4. JEOL JSM-880 high resolution scanning electron microscope with x-ray analysis and digital imaging.

The SRNML darkrooms are equipped with the standard darkroom items including:

  1. Two developing sinks.
  2. Durst enlarger with a variety of condenser and projector lenses and a varipoint transformer.
  3. Photobell timer.
  4. Duplex Super Safelight sodium vapor safelight.
  5. Arkay RC-2000 print dryer with stand.
  6. Arkay nitrogen burst developing system with time.
  7. Durst automatic processor.

In addition the following items are also available for use:

  1. RMC-JEOL JFD-9000 freeze fracture apparatus with cryopump.
  2. Gatan ion thinning mill with argon/iodine compatibility equipped with cryostages.
  3. Gatan CryoTEM transfer device.
  4. Gatan double-tilt (Be) analytical specimen holder with picoammeter.
  5. RMC MT-6000 ultramicrotome equipped with FS-1000 cryo-attachment.
  6. RMC MF-7200 propane-jet freezing device.
  7. Reichert MM-80 contact freezing device.
  8. Revco ultralow temperature freezer (-85 C).
  9. Three Sorvall MT-2B ultramicrotomes
  10. Tousimis automated critical point dryer.
  11. wo sputter coaters (Hummer II and Hummer VI).
  12. Vacuum evaporators (JEOL and Polaron).
  13. Liquid nitrogen dewars (various sizes).
  14. A Nikon stereo dissecting microscope with light pipes.
  15. Two Bausch and Lomb stereo dissecting microscopes.
  16. Nikon phase contrast laboratory microscope.
  17. Nikon research photomicroscope with Nomarski interference contrast.


SRNML Director: The SRNML Director is the individual in direct charge of the SRNML and answers directly to the VPR. His/her responsibilities include:
  1. Overseeing the daily operation of SRNML.
  2. Supervising the staff of SRNML and ensuring proper use of staff time.
  3. Developing long range plans for the SRNML.
  4. Managing the budget of the SRNML.
  5. Advising and reporting to the VPR concerning all aspects involved in running the SRNML.
  6. Interacting on a routine and regular basis (at least quarterly) with the SRNML Advisory Board on matters which concern the Advisory Board.
  7. Carrying out the policy of the SRNML.
  8. Consulting the Advisory Board when any change in policy is anticipated.
  9. Making faculty across the campus aware of the SRNML and its availability.
  10. As time permits, aiding researchers in the interpretation of micrographs.
SRNML Advisory Board: The SRNML Advisory Board functions to aid the SRNML Director and VPR in the management of the SRNML. As such, the Advisory Board is asked to make recommendations through the SRNML Director to the VPR on such matters as:
  1. Daily operations of the SRNML.
  2. Policy and procedures of the SRNML.
  3. Enhancement of the laboratory programs.
  4. Equipment acquisitions.
  5. Personnel needs.
  6. Budget.
  7. Priorities for the SRNML.

Membership of SRNML Advisory Board: The Advisory Board will consist of six faculty members appointed by the VPR after he/she consults with the SRNML Director and other interested parties. Each term of appointment, subject to one re-appointment, will be for three years. Terms will be staggered such that two new members will be appointed each year. The representation on the Advisory Board will be as broad as possible and will at all times include one faculty member each from the Departments of Botany/Microbiology and Zoology plus faculty from four other departments who are likely to have users of the facility.

SRNML Technicians: The technicians are employees of the SRNML and thus, are supervised directly by the SRNML Director. Their primary responsibilities are first maintenance/repair of the microscopes and other SRNML equipment, secondly training of instrument operators and then aiding individuals in their microscopy research. They are not permanent research technicians for any individual researcher, so no researcher should expect to receive preferential help from them. Overall technicians' responsibilities include:

  1. Maintenance/repair of the microscopes.
  2. Training of potential users in the operation of transmission and/or scanning electron microscopy both individually and with short courses for small groups. This training will be carried out under the direction of the SRNML Director and appropriate research faculty.
  3. Determining when an individual has qualified to operate one of the microscopes.
  4. Keeping a log of how each day's time is spent and posting a schedule of use of the microscopes.
  5. Assisting in the preparation of microscopy samples and doing the microscopy for researchers (faculty, students, post-doctorates, research staff or visiting scientists) who are not qualified operators of an microscope.
  6. As time permits, aiding qualified operators in any aspect of their research which needs the facilities of SRNML.
  7. As time permits, aiding researchers in the interpretation of micrographs.
  8. Coordinating demonstrations of the SRNML facilities for interested parties, both on and off-campus.

With respect to point (5) and (6), it is emphasized that researchers who need to use the SRNML on a routine basis should become qualified operators, so they can be responsible for most of their microscopy needs.

SRNML Policy

SRNML Users: Any faculty member, student, post-doctorate, visiting scientist or research staff at the University of Oklahoma may be a user of the SRNML. Users fall into two categories.

  1. Qualified instrument operators. Researchers whose work requires the use of one or more of the microscopes and the support equipment are encouraged to become qualified operators of the instruments and to do their own work.
  2. Occasional users. Researchers who have only a limited need for the facilities of the SRNML may arrange with the Director of the SRNML for all or portions of the work to be performed by SRNML technicians, on a time available basis.

Qualified Users: To become a qualified operator, a researcher must be certified by the SRNML Director that he/she is qualified to operate a particular instrument. Certification must be obtained for each instrument separately. Qualified operators will be classified as follows:

  1. Learner. Learners may use the instrument during the regular operating hours of the SRNML only under the supervision of a qualified instructor designated by the SRNML Director.
  2. Day Operator. Day operators may use the instrument without direct supervision during the regular operating hours of the SRNML. In general, day operators will be expected to demonstrate an ability to operate the instrument properly and to understand instrument operation well enough to recognize problems when they arise and to seek help in solving the problem.
  3. Day/Night Operator. Day/night operators may use the instrument at any time and will be authorized by the SRNML Director to have a key to the instrument room. Operators in this category will be expected to be familiar enough with the operation of the instrument to trouble shoot minor problems, such as blown out filaments, and moreover, they will have demonstrated to the satisfaction of the SRNML Director that they can be trusted with the responsibility of operating the instrument without supervision.

Instrument operators will be assigned to one of the above categories for each instrument by the SRNML Director on the basis of his/her experience and demonstrated ability to operate the instrument. The SRNML Director may designate one or more SRNML technicians or members of the faculty to test and recommend certification of potential operators. A list of the names of the qualified operators will be posted in the SRNML.

Training Courses: In order to train new operators in the use of the instruments and other facilities of the SRNML, the SRNML staff and its associated faculty will offer instruction and training of various types that are designed to meet the varied needs of potential users of the SRNML. All training courses must be approved by the SRNML Director. The types of instruction will include (but will not be limited to) the following:

  1. Short, intensive training in instrument operation. This training is intended to teach the fundamentals of instrument operation an is designed for users who have already learned or are learning the basics of specimen preparation. It is primarily intended for faculty, postdoctoral researchers, technicians and graduate students who have neither the time nor the need for a more formal course. Training will be offered as needed by SRNML technicians to from one to six individuals at a time. Interested persons should make arrangements for such training with an SRNML technician.
  2. Short courses in specimen preparation. This training will be provided to faculty, postdoctoral researchers, technicians and graduate students who wish to learn specific aspects of specimen preparation that are related to their research programs. Training will be offered by SRNML technicians on a request basis.
  3. Courses in microscopy for academic credit. These courses (existing or new) are intended for graduate and advanced undergraduate students who wish to learn microscopy as a research tool. Faculty members of the various academic departments are encouraged to organize and to teach such courses that cover specific methodological needs of their disciplines. These courses should be coordinated with the SRNML Director and SRNML technicians. As part of these courses, SRNML technicians will be available to assist in or to carry out instruction in the use of specific instruments and SRNML facilities. In order to maximize instruction and to avoid duplication of effort, faculty in related academic disciplines are requested to coordinate their efforts and to design cross listed courses. Instructors of all such courses that require the use of any SRNML facilities must schedule the use of the SRNML and arrange for the use of the time of SRNML technicians at the time class schedules for the semester in which the course will be taught are due. Arrangements for expendable supplies to be used in such courses must be made in advance with the SRNML Director.
  4. Other training. Various courses, training sessions, workshops and symposia may be offered from time to time.

Loss of SRNML Privileges: Until certified as a qualified operator, a user should not attempt to personally use an microscope unless he/she is taking a training course and is being directly supervised by an SRNML technician. Use by a non-qualified operator will result in loss of use of the facility.

A qualified operator, who is observed by an SRNML technician or the SRNML Director not following proper protocol, not correctly using the microscope or using a microscope for which he/she has not been certified, will have his/her qualified status revoked. If the user wants reinstatement as a qualified operator, he/she must again be certified as qualified.

SRNML Schedule: The regular hours of the SRNML will be from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., if the University is on that summer schedule). The facility will be open at other times only to qualified day/night operators or by special arrangement with the SRNML Director.

Instrument scheduling: In order to permit as many researchers as possible to use the instruments and to help researchers plan their time for using the SRNML, a sign-up sheet for the use of each instrument will be posted at a designated location. Scheduling will be done on a weekly basis. If scheduled maintenance/repair or if time for training is needed on an instrument, time will be blocked off on the sign-up sheet by SRNML technicians. The SRNML reserves the right to preempt normal use for maintenance/repair, installations or special circumstances which cannot be successfully predicted and scheduled.

Limitations on scheduling: Qualified instrument operators may schedule in advance up to two two-hour blocks of time in a calendar week. However, once the operator has used up any part of the time that he/she has reserved, he/she may sign up for an additional amount of time equal to the amount already used during that week. Scheduling for each instrument will be done separately. Sign-up sheets will be posted at least one week in advance. If an operator needs to schedule time further in advance that one week, he/she should make arrangements with the SRNML Director or SRNML technicians.

Scheduling assistance from technical staff: If an SRNML technician is needed to conduct a researcher's microscopy, the researcher should contact the SRNML technician a week or two (the earlier the better) prior to needing the microscopy work. At that time, the SRNML technician can determine how much time will be needed to accomplish the microscopy. The SRNML technician will then block out these times on the scheduling list when it is posted. However, no more than ten hours of each week for all research needing an SRNML technician may be initially allocated on each microscope. If there are open blocks of time during the week, the SRNML technician should schedule what additional time is needed to accomplish his/her microscopy work for researchers.

No-shows: Anyone scheduled to use the SRNML facilities is expected to do so at the assigned time. If a person repeatedly does not use the microscope at an assigned time, privileges for use of the SRNML facilities will be restricted to open blocks of time during the week the microscopy is to be accomplished.

Costs for Using SRNML: All users must supply all disposable materials needed for their microscopy work. These include embedding materials and all materials involved in the photographic aspects of the user's microscopy work. Among the photographic costs are film, developer, paper, and fixer. A list of those items available though the SRNML can be obtained from the SRNML Director.

Hourly charges: Hourly charges for internal users will be calculated for all pieces of equipment having significant maintenance costs. These costs will be calculated by taking predicted maintenance costs and dividing by the expected hours of usage during a given fiscal year. The cost basis may include: (1) supplies required to maintain the instrument; (2) to service contract costs; (3) a prediction of user-billable charges that may be retained as a contingency fund; (4) inflation. The usership basis may take into account: (1) current usership trends; (2) courses to be offered; (3) past usership trends; (4) university contributions. Charges may be corrected quarterly as needed, but may not be increased in any fiscal year by more than 10%. Non-payment of charges may result in loss of privileges in the SRNML until payment is made at the discretion of the Director. Surcharges may be added for specific costly instrument configurations, such as LaB6 electron sources. [Approved SRNML Adv. Bd. 1-29-90]

External usage: External usage of the SRNML is restricted to academic and non-academic projects requiring microscopic services for the purpose of conducting original research. Such EM usage will be conducted by University of Oklahoma researchers on a contract or grant administered by the Grants and Contracts office. Prices for external usage will be based on all costs incurred by the SRNML in the operation of the facility, including: (1) direct usage and specimen preparation costs; (2) maintenance costs; (3) amortization of research equipment and facilities; (4) operator salaries; (5) fringe benefits; (6) administrative costs; and (7) indirect costs. [Approved SRNML Adv. Bd. 2-20-90]

Darkroom Facilities: There are two darkrooms in the SRNML. One is associated with transmission electron microscopy for processing photographic materials used with the TEMS. The second darkroom, located in the NML Room 209, is intended for users to print and develop electron microscopy materials. No other printing or developing is permitted in this room. Sign up procedures will be similar to those used for the microscope.

Log Books: Log books are provided for each piece of equipment in the SRNML. Each time a piece of equipment is utilized an entry must be placed in the log book. Entries will vary, but will include the name of the user, nature of use, date, and time (starting and finishing) of use. It is essential that these logs be maintained to facilitate instrument maintenance and to determine amount of use each instrument receives.

Policy statement last revised December 23, 1992.

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