Microscopy and Imaging Center Policies

The mission of the MIC is to provide current and emerging technologies for teaching and research involving microscopy and related imaging in Life and Material Sciences on the A&M campus (and beyond), and to provide training and support services for microscopy, sample preparation, in situ analysis and digital image processing.

In order to achieve the best science by cooperation of Students, Research Associates, Professors, Principal Investigators, and the MIC Staff, the following policy statement has been prepared.

Acknowledgement Policy

The MIC will be acknowledged directly by authors in publications and presentations that utilize MIC facilities. The MIC recognizes that the samples and all research materials are the property of the Principal Investigator (PI), who serves as the responsible individual representing the University on funded projects. Just as the samples, ideas, and questions at the heart of the investigation may be the property of the Principal Investigators to be used with their authorization, so the ideas for new methods developed by the MIC Staff may be the intellectual property of the Technical Staff, to be used with their authorization. In many cases, techniques will be developed as the result of joint efforts.

Ideally, these different facets will augment each other and can be published together or separately as appropriate. In any case, the two parties should discuss up front the best way to disseminate the information and must recognize and respect the contributions of each other either by authorship or acknowledgement. In the case of co-authorship, contributions to the writing of a paper is both a privilege and requirement. Cases of disagreement or potential conflict arising from prior agreements (or more likely, lack of prior agreements) will be resolved through the Office of the Vice President for Research in consultation with the Director of the MIC, or an ad hoc committee of their choosing.

Research carried out in part or in full using MIC facilities will thus fall into one of several categories, with services and/or contributions requiring the following acknowledgements:

1. Use of facilities only (PI and associates carry out the research) requires acknowledgement of facilities in all resulting publications.  The following acknowledgement or equivalent should be used: “Use of the Texas A&M Microscopy and Imaging Center is acknowledged.”

2. Provision of routine procedures and methods by MIC Staff requires acknowledgement of facilities and individuals in the resulting publications. The following acknowledgement or equivalent should be used: “Use of the Texas A&M Microscopy and Imaging Center and (Dr./Mr./Ms.) ____________ are acknowledged.”

3. Contributions of MIC Staff that include development and implementation of original techniques, experimental design, interpretation, or other significant intellectual input require co-authorship and acknowledgement of facilities. The following acknowledgement or equivalent should be used: “Use of the Texas A&M Microscopy and Imaging Center is acknowledged.”

Special acknowledgement requirement for the FEI Quanta FE-SEM: NSF guidelines mandate that the use of the FE-SEM must be properly acknowledged in any publications (including web pages): "The FE-SEM acquisition was supported in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DBI-0116835." Users are also required to file a copy of any relevant publication containing the acknowledgement with the MIC Administrative Office.

Upon acceptance of your publication acknowledging the MIC, send the complete citation, and upon publication, send a PDF file to Dr. Avery McIntosh at almcintosh@tamu.edu.

Access to MIC Instrumentation and Equipment

New users of the MIC instrumentation must be trained by the appropriate MIC staff. Training by other users is not sufficient. Sharing of password/credentials with users who are not trained is prohibited.

 

Instrument Training and Usage

Users of the facility will be billed each month for hourly usage (see fee schedule) through iLab.

1)  New users must submit a training service request through iLab.  Staff time for refresher training, consultation, or other help can be requested within iLab. Separate charges for instrument time and staff time will be billed for any technical staff-assisted projects and for all training.

2)  Once training is completed and the user is qualified on the requested instrument(s), users will be given card access to the MIC lab(s) that has the instrument(s) approved for use.

3)  MIC business hours are 8 AM – 5 PM, Monday through Friday. After hours and weekend operation is available for qualified users trained to operate instruments independently with card access only.

4)  Instruments can be scheduled up to 2 (two) weeks in advance. Microscopes can be reserved for time blocks up to 6 (six) hours and for a total of 12 (twelve) hours per day. Extended use may be allowed, but must be approved by the equipment manager.

5)  Instrument usage is charged at an hourly rate, detailed in the fee schedule, while occupying the room.

6)  Upon arrival at the MIC to use the reserved instrument, users must check in to start the iLab session and to turn on the interlock channels.  If more time is needed, the user is responsible to extend their session through iLab.  After equipment use, users must login to iLab and terminate their session otherwise they will be charged the walkout time. Users who attempt to bypass interlocks will be held responsible and will be restricted from using the facility. 

7)  Any remote use of equipment must have an active iLab session.  Users must not use remote capabilities to bypass usage fees.  

8)  Any reservation cancellations should be made 48 hours in advance to allow other users to schedule time on the instrument.

9)  The assessment of a No Show fee will be at the discretion of the equipment manager.  Users who do not show up (No Show) for their scheduled reservation time may be charged as follows:

     (a)  First Time – Warning

     (b)  Second Time - Charged for the reserved time or for one hour, whichever is less.

     (c)  Third Time - Charged for the entire reserved time

No fee will be assessed for late cancellations or no-shows during any period when the instrument is unavailable because of maintenance or repair.

 If a user or advisor feels that fees have been applied in error or if a late cancellation or no-show was the result of a medical or family emergency, the advisor should submit a written appeal to the equipment manager and MIC Assistant Director. 

 

TEM reservation cancellation policy for JEOL 2010 and FEI Tecnai:

The last user of the day CANNOT cancel the last reservation unless he/she has contacted the previous user in person or phone (not by e-mail) to ensure the previous user will shut down the TEM properly. Otherwise, the last user must come to the MIC to shut down the TEM to prevent damage, even though he/she does not plan to use it.

Instrument/Equipment Failures, Damage and Misuse

If any problems with the equipment are discovered upon check in or occur during operation, the user is responsible for notifying the equipment manager as soon as possible.

PIs will be responsible for the cost of repairs for damages due to negligence or misuse of instruments by users in their group.

Proper usage and routine maintenance of the equipment are critical for optimal data collection. It is important that users properly perform the startup, shutdown, operating, and cleaning procedures as described in the training sessions. Users are responsible to return equipment and/or accessories to their proper place at the end of each session as described during training. Failure to comply with all usage procedures as laid out in the equipment tutorials, manuals, and training sessions can result in restricted or suspended access to MIC equipment.  Users should contact the equipment manager with any questions or clarifications on procedures.

 

Computers, Data Management and Storage

Users are responsible for their own data!  Data and images collected on the local hard drive should be transferred from the microscope computers to portable media promptly. Users should bring a USB drive to take their data with them at the end of the session.  Upon approval by equipment manager, data may be stored for up to 2 weeks and after that may be deleted without notice to the user/PI.

Do not, under any circumstances, download/upload programs or files onto MIC computers. Users doing so will have their use of the facility restricted. MIC computers are not to be used for any purpose other than MIC related activities.

 

Safety

All users of the MIC are responsible for the safe utilization of instrumentation. Electrical and chemical hazards, as well as hazards associated with the utilization of high-vacuum instruments exist.  All new users of the facility shall receive site-specific safety training at the beginning of their instrument training. No biohazardous material may be brought into the laboratory unless procedures for their use and disposal have been approved and all members of the MIC are properly informed of potential hazards.

A handbook of safety procedures and a Texas A&M University Hazardous Waste Disposal Manual is located at the entrance of the laboratory. Users of the laboratory are obligated to use proper safety procedures, and are expected to both read and understand the contents of these documents. Material Data Safety Sheets are maintained on all chemicals used in the laboratory. Contact a staff member for manuals.

Samples, Biosafety and Hazardous materials

No Biosafety Level (BSL) -3, BSL-4 agents/pathogens or radioactive material are allowed in the facility at any time. BSL-2 agents/pathogens are only allowed in BSL-2 designated rooms with approval1.  BSL-1 samples are only allowed in BSL-1 or BSL-2 designated rooms.

Sample processing is ONLY by appointment. Please contact the MIC staff before bringing samples to the lab.  The MIC staff does its best to produce usable data from every experiment. However, this cannot be guaranteed, especially for pilot experiments. Each project involves consumables and staff time as well as instrument use. Investigators are given a cost estimate upon request, are informed of potential problems prior to the start of the experiment, and are expected to pay for all services requested and completed, even if data produced is not as anticipated by the investigator. 

There will be no charge for experiments that fail due to errors* by the MIC staff or equipment malfunction as long as no usable data is collected. If the investigator elects to collect data from experiments that are not up to standard, then normal charges will apply.  The investigator may elect to terminate the project prior to completion. However, charges will be applied for all procedures completed prior to the experiment termination.

(* Errors are defined as mistakes in carrying out the planned procedures. Unsuccessful sample preparation based on the unique nature of the samples or sample response to routine preparation methods is not considered an error. Investigators are encouraged to provide methods from literature as a basis for preparation of new samples in order to minimize potential sample preparation problems.)

1Selected rooms in the MIC have been approved as a BSL-2 laboratory space. In order to be able to bring any BSL-2 material to the MIC, the MIC facility and the room number MUST be listed in the investigator's approved TAMU Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) permit, in Section F, Agent use and Storage Locations. The investigator is required to send a copy of the approved IBC permit listing the relevant MIC laboratory rooms and the BSL-2 organisms along with copies of the required training certificates, to either Dr. Avery McIntosh (almcintosh@tamu.edu) or Dr. Stanislav Vitha (stanvitha@tamu.edu), before any BSL-2 samples can be brought into the MIC facility.  The IBC permit can be uploaded through submission of the form required in iLab, but reservations will not be approved until the information has been examined.  When using the BSL-2 labs in the MIC, all users must follow the rules posted. This applies even to those users that do not work with samples requiring an IBC permit.  Each user must fill out a ‘use form’ to demonstrate compliance with the Office of Environmental Health and Safety requirements regarding BSL-2 laboratory training and documentation of hazardous materials.  All BSL-2 materials must be transported to and from BSL-2 designated rooms using secondary containment that is clearly marked as biohazard. Anything brought into the laboratory must be taken out for disposal following the conclusion of the experiment. All trash/waste within these rooms must be disposed properly. For more information please see the website for Research Compliance and Biosafety.

Users who abuse this policy will be required to undergo additional training or be restricted from using the facilityQuestions? Please call us at 979-845-1129.

 

Confidentiality

Confidentiality is required for all MIC users (https://financeits.tamu.edu/resources/protecting-confidential-information/) who are members of the TAMU research community. External users of the facility are extended similar confidentiality treatment. Confidential disclosure/nondisclosure agreements are executed for external users upon request through the Contracts Administration (contracts.tamu.edu).  The MIC will provide assistance in establishing such agreements.

Export Controls

Texas A&M and the MIC also has a commitment to comply with all applicable export controls, as established by federal regulations, in its policy on export controls (see The Texas A&M University System Policy 15.02 Export Controls).