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FAQs

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.

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 for varied rates. To see a detailed price list, click here.

No. All fees and purchases are billed monthly within an itemized statement.

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 979-845-1129.

Those who are checked-out are allowed to work on the equipment independently. This means all microscope and major equipment users will be required to demonstrate competency on the instrument they propose to operate to be considered qualified.

If you would like to receive training in instrument operation or sample preparation, please follow the instructions found here. If you are not sure which microscope is best suited for your samples, any staff member will be able to direct you. You and the staff member will then discuss your needs and schedule the training. The amount of time required for training depends on the instrument and on your background/previous proficiency with similar equipment. For somebody with no background, ~2-4 sessions (5-10 hours) with a staff member are normally sufficient for most instruments to get you to a competency level that will allow you to operate the instrument by yourself during normal working hours. Once you and the staff member feel that you are capable of operating the equipment alone, you will be checked out. This will allow you to make instrument reservations and give you access to the center 24/7 with your University ID.

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.

Work with BL-2 samples at Light Microscopy level is possible but requires prior arrangement before you can bring the samples to the MIC. Most of the MIC labs are certified only for BL-1, but as of fall 2019, MIC has a BL-2 imaging laboratory, equipped with a biosafety cabinet, CO2 incubators and a Leica SP8 laser scanning confocal/STED superresolution/ FLIM microscope capable of live imaging. Please contact Dr. Stanislav Vitha to make arrangements. Detailed information on how to get access to the BL-2 lab is shown on the Leica SP8 page.

If you are interested in preparing and imaging BL-2 samples by cryo-electron microscopy on our Tecnai cryo-TEM, this is currently not possible. If BL-2 samples need to be prepared or examined in the MIC on instruments not approved for BL-2 work, they must be rendered inactive prior to their transport to the 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.

Visitors to the MIC 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 these spaces, you must register your vehicle next to the iLab kiosk just outside room 1137 upon arrival. These spaces are first come, first serve. In the event that all the visitor parking spaces are occupied, additional parking can be found in the Central Campus Parking Garage (CCPG) or Cain Parking Garage.

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”?)

You may call us directly at 979-845-1129 and we’ll be glad to answer any questions you have. Alternatively, you can email Ashlyn Montgomery and ask any questions.