Using the NIC during Phase 1

First, a request to the PIs whose team will be using the NIC: Please list the NIC as a core facility on your Phase 1 research application. Once your Phase 1 application is approved, please let me know which researchers in your group will be using the NIC.

Second, a request to NIC users: After your PI has the approved Phase 1 application for your lab in hand, then please send me a note about which NIC scope you will need to use. I will reply with the new NIC risk agreement and list of post-COVID standard operating procedures (SOP). Once you acknowledge the risk and agree to the SOP then I will unlock your Bookitlab scheduling software login.

NIC risk agreement and post-COVID SOP:

Users must acknowledge risk and agree to the SOP via email prior to NIC use.

Dear <NIC User>,

Thank you for your lab’s approved documentation to use the NIC during Phase 1. This email is to let you know that you have my permission to use only the <microscope you requested> in the NIC for the project described in the approved Phase 1 application.

There are a few other NIC users right now, therefore, when you reserve this scope please make sure you will not be arriving or leaving within 10 minutes of any other user’s start or end time. It is possible to see everyone’s booking times in the online NIC reservation calendar Bookitlab.

An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists where other people are present, where people have recently been present, and where air circulation is shared with multiple rooms. By using the NIC you accept this risk of COVID-19 exposure.

Please reply to this email stating that you accept this risk and that you will follow these rules:

  • If you feel ill, you should NOT come into the NIC.
  • No “walk ins,” all NIC reservations must be at least 24 hours in advance.
  • Do as much sample prep as possible before coming to the NIC.
  • Please bring your own cloth or disposable mask to wear while in the NIC at all times.
  • To avoid interacting with other NIC users at the door, please arrive 3 minutes AFTER your scheduled start time and plan carefully to leave 3 minutes BEFORE your scheduled end time. If you arrive early, wait outside of the NIC in the seating area; do not wait in the entry room of the NIC.
  • There will be a sign-in book at the NIC entrance to log when users arrive. It is a requirement to put your name, date, time, and microscope used in the book when you enter.
  • Once you sign-in at the door, go directly to the scope you will use. Do not go to any other rooms and do not use any microscopes other than the one you have reserved.
  • Once you enter the microscope room you have reserved, do not leave until the end of your session. Take a bathroom break before coming to the NIC.
  • Bring everything you need into the microscope room you have reserved, and take it with you when finished. There will be no pipettors in the NIC and there should be nothing you need kept outside of the room.
  • Only one person per room per microscope. If you are in the NIC and someone needs to talk to you then please have them text, call, or email.
  • Please shut the door to the microscope room while you are using it, and leave it open when you leave.
  • Please wipe the surfaces you will touch before and after your session with the supplies available next to the scope. There will be no sanitizing between users.
  • Finally if you do test positive for COVID-19 infection within 2 weeks of using the NIC, please let me know.

Thank you <NIC user>, I’m looking forward to your reply.

Additional post-COVID NIC details:

The NIC has a supply of 70% ethanol, kimwipes, and instructions next to every microscope for sanitizing microscope eyepieces, keyboards, knobs, and other touched surfaces before and after using the microscope.

I will check the NIC once a week when no users are present to confirm sanitation supplies have not run out and to do routine maintenance.

I will not be training new users during Phase 1, thus, everyone who uses the NIC during this time will be an experienced user.

If there is an issue with a microscope during a session, I will help troubleshoot remotely via email, phone, or telecon. If the problem cannot be solved remotely, then it will have to wait until I come to the NIC during my weekly visit.

As always, please let me know if you spot something amiss in the NIC or if you have suggestions for improvement. Running the NIC is indeed a team effort and I do appreciate your open communication.

Sarah Swanson, Director
Newcomb Imaging Center
Department of Botany

June 22, 2020
NIC SOP for Phase 1, version 2.1


Microscopy images of plants.