FAQ

Q: Where are you located?
A: The Microscopy and Imaging Center is located at Texas A&M University, and housed in the Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building (ILSB). If you would like directions from a particular location, please click here to see where we are located on campus or feel free to call for directions.

Q: What does the floorplan look like?
A: Our floorplan is here: MIC Floor Plan

Q: How do you charge?
A: Users are charged per hour for equipment time and consultation. The MIC also stocks a wide range of supplies that can be purchased by users. Rates vary. To see a detailed price list, click here.

Q: If I need additional supplies while I am working, do I need to pay for them then?
A: No. All fees and purchases are billed monthly within an itemized statement.

Q: Who is eligible to use the Center?
A: Anyone who has successfully completed the required training is eligible to use the Center, and we welcome all who are interested. If you would like to find out more about what you can do to get started please call at 979-845-1129.

Q: What does it mean to be checked-out?
A: Those who are checked-out are allowed to work on the equipment independently. This means all electron, light, scanning probe microscopes and major equipment users will be required to demonstrate competency on the instrument they propose to operate to be considered qualified. Click here for more information.

Q: How can I get trained?
A: If you like to receive training outside the formal course structure, just stop by and check out some of the SEM or TEM reading materials from our administration office, which is located here in the center. Once these items are checked out you may take them home or view them here. When you have familiarized yourself a little bit with the theoretical background, we ask you to take a quiz. This quiz is used to adjust the training to your individual needs. At this point you will begin your hands-on training with one of our staff members. Once you and your instructor feel you are capable of operating the equipment alone, you will be checked out. To arrive at this point depends on your background/previous proficiency with similar equipment etc. For somebody with no background about 3-4 sessions (8-10 hours) with an instructor are normally sufficient to get you to a competency level that allow you to operate the instrument by yourself during normal working hours. In order to get 24 hours access, you need to be checked out. At this point, you will leave a $10 deposit, and we will issue you a key to access the center 24/7. Check-out procedures for Light Microscopy take less time. Please see the corresponding page.

Q: Can I trust the magnifications as provided by the scale bars on the micrographs?

Not necessarily. If you need high accuracy with your data analysis, we ask you to use a calibration standard (e.g. cross-grating replica or silicon carbide in the case of TEM or e.g. latex spheres or NIST-approved calibration specimens in the case of SEM). Various calibration standards are available for SEM and you may wish to discuss which to choose with an MIC staff member. Some users may have features of known dimensions already present in their specimens.

**DISCLAIMER**

The instrument-generated scale bars are adequate for many uses. However, they may not be sufficiently accurate for specific applications. It is the responsibility of the individual user to calibrate magnifications where and when required. If in doubt, consult with an MIC staff member.

 

Q: I am working on a project that involves infectious agents (Biosafety Level 2). Can I bring my BL-2 samples to MIC for imaging?
A:  No. The MIC is neither equipped nor allowed to deal with samples that are Biosafety level 2 (BL-2) or higher. If such samples need to be examined in the MIC, they must be rendered inactive prior to their transport to MIC. The investigator must first contact the MIC to work out an effective and reliable protocol that will inactivate the agent while preserving the structure to be investigated. 

Q: I do not have any samples that require a Biosafety permit. Why do you bother me with these rules when I just need to do confocal imaging?
A: The confocal room is designated as BL-1 lab space, and thus all users must follow the rules for BL-1 laboratories, including wearing a lab coat and washing their hands after use.

Q: Where can I park?
A: Visitors to the Center can park in one of the four designated MIC reserved spaces in Lot 42 adjacent to the west side of  ILSB.   When parking in one of theses spaces, you must register your vehicle in the MIC's administrative office (Room #1137) upon arrival.  These spaces are first come first serve. In the event all visitor parking spaces are occupied, additional parking can be found in the Central Campus Parking Garage (CCPG). To find the location of the garage on a campus map, click here. For a closer look at the MIC visitor parking, click here.

Q: Can I work by myself or will I need to work with a staff member?
A: During your initial training you will work with a staff member. However, once you are checked out you may work alone. (See above question, "What does it mean to be checked-out"?

Q: How can I reserve a microscope?
A: Our online web-scheduler is now available. Please click here for more information and the link to schedule your time now at your own convenience.

Q: Where can I find a list of other related sites?
A:
Right here.

Q: Who can I talk to if I want to learn more?
A: You may call us directly at 979-845-1129 and we'll be glad to answer any questions you may have. Alternatively, send an e-mail to one of our staff members: http://microscopy.tamu.edu/staff/staff.html/