»  User Policy

User Policy

The Microscopy and Imaging Facility operates normally from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday, on the American Museum of Natural History calendar. During that time all activity is supervised, and the Laboratory Technicians are available to assist in use of any instrument in the lab.


1. MIF Users, Categories of Privileges:


Category 1 User: AMNH Curatorial Staff
Category 2 User:
   • Scientific staff
   • Graduate students and Postdoctoral Fellows sponsored through the AMNH Richard Gilder Graduate School
   • Associates, Research Associates, or Field Associates
Category 3 User: This group includes:
   • Volunteers
   • Interns
   • Visiting Scientists sponsored by an AMNH science department. Outside researchers who are not sponsored to conduct collections-based research do not qualify for MIF privileges.

Category 1 Users may give up their privileges for use by other approved users (listed below). MIF Staff must receive an email stating the extent and duration of forfeiture of privileges prior to scheduling of equipment.

2. Usage Request


To request time on any instrument in the lab, the investigator must contact either MIF Co-Manager by phone or email, with a description of their project and goals, and which instrument they would like to use. Reservations for time on any instrument are made by EMAIL ONLY.

A contact information form is provided on our website, and must be filled out and submitted once the terms of use have been discussed and agreed upon between a Co-Manager and the user. We will use the contact information to notify the user if there should be a conflict with their reserved time, or afterwards to remind them of data retrieval.
Acceptable usage is defined as use related to the scientific research of the investigator; usage requests for commercial purposes will not be accepted. It is also expected that users acknowledge usage of AMNH research facilities in any and all publications resulting from that usage, and submit reprints of those publications to the MIF.
Users submitting grants that involve extensive use of MIF equipment or resources are requested to contact MIF staff before doing so. Disproportionate use of MIF equipment with respect to other users, is subject to the discretion of the Associate Dean of Science. Grant budgets may need to be adjusted and include MIF equipment expenses.

3. Equipment Reservation Policy

No instrument may be booked more than one month ahead of intended use.
Users who require exceptionally long contiguous blocks of time for their work (especially users traveling from a distance) or who must book more than two weeks in advance should contact one of the two Co-Laboratory Managers so that the necessary time may be reserved.
During periods of high usage, the number of time slots available to any one investigator may be restricted and subject to the following rules. Extra time is available in the evenings and weekends for approved operators only (see point 5).
For purposes of machine maintenance, a number of Discretionary Days may be scheduled during any period of time. During these periods, usage may be limited or unavailable, at the discretion of MIF Staff.
Time slots still available 48 hours beforehand may be reserved on a first come, first served basis.
A MIF calendar on our website has been provided to allow users to identify a possible reservation date before submitting a request. This calendar is managed by MIF Staff, and is subject to change at any time. Please contact the MIF before making any arrangements.

ALL RESERVATIONS MUST BE MADE BY E-MAIL. Please send all requests to mif@amnh.org.


3.1 SEMs and CLSM

(i) No more than two days may be booked in any two-week period.


3.2 CT Scanner

(i) Category 1 Users: no more than two days may be booked per month
(ii) Category 2 Users: no more than one day may be booked per month


3.3 CPD, Sputter Coater, Specimen Preparation Facilities
At times of high usage the number of time slots available to any one investigator is subject to the following rules:
(i) No more than two days may be booked on any two-week period.


3.4 Printing Facilities
Printing facilities are available only to Scientific Staff for research purposes.
Laser printers: Available on a first come first serve basis using any of the computers located in the MIF computer lab.
Large Format Plotter: Users must make an appointment in order to use the poster printer. Typically a printing request is for only one poster, more printing may be done at the discretion of the MIF Staff.

3.6 Loss of Scheduled Time
When a user’s scheduled time is lost due to equipment malfunction, or other unforeseeable circumstances, it is difficult to directly compensate those users without negatively affecting other scheduled users. However, the MIF is committed to actively working with affected users in an effort to maintain the continuity of their research. On an individual user basis, discretionary time may be allocated when possible. Where warranted, scheduled time may be increased during a future session.


3.7 Cancellation policy
If you are running late, you are requested to phone and indicate that you will be late, but intend on still using your reserved instrument. Call MIF staff at (212)-313-7975 or *7978 or email jthostenson@amnh.org or mhill@amnh.org. Failure to do so will result in cancellation of the scheduled time without warning and may be used by another investigator at the discretion the MIF staff.

4. Before you come to the lab


When scheduling time, please make sure to ask any questions regarding sample preparation, access to the MIF, data management, or anything else you will need to know beforehand.
Common preparation issues include: coating, critical point drying, mounting, sample borrowing, specimen preservation, and transport. Please discuss these with the staff if you are unsure if your samples should require it.

5. Supervision and after-hours access

Users are required to be supervised by MIF staff until such time as proficiency and skill has been adequately demonstrated.
Users will be granted after-hours privileges by MIF Staff on a case-by-case basis and after user knowledge and skill has been demonstrated.

5.1 Keys
Keys are available for nightly sign-out to approved users for after-hours access to the MIF, and for other locked resources as required. Please arrange to check out a key from the MIF Staff on the afternoon of after-hours work. Keys must be returned and signed-in the following morning. In the case of weekend and holiday access, keys may be signed out in the afternoon of the last day of business and returned the morning of the next business day.
Keys must never be passed to a third party. MIF Staff should be notified immediately if a key is lost.

5.2 Use after hours
It is the responsibility of all investigators to ensure that the equipment they use is left ready for the next investigator at the end of their session. In particular, rooms and equipment must be left clean, tidy and operational for the next user.
In the case of equipment malfunction after hours, users must contact one of the MIF staff immediately. A list of phone numbers is located on the whiteboard in each room.
In the case of damage caused by negligent use or unapproved use, the cost of the repair will be charged to the department of the individual who caused the damage, and future use will be supervised.


5.3 Security after hours
If you are the last person to leave the MIF at the end of the day please ensure:
-All the lights in the area you were working in are turned off
-Any gas cylinders you may have used are off
-The door to your work area and the main entrance are locked behind you.

6. Level of support

The main functions of the MIF staff are to maintain the MIF facilities, train new investigators, develop new techniques and support ongoing research projects at the AMNH. MIF staff cannot act exclusively as research support staff for individual investigators.
It is important that the investigator and the MIF staff understand the aims and scope of a project before commencing work. It is the responsibility of the investigator to ensure that the instrumentation and protocol are appropriate for their specimens and will provide the answers they seek. In the case where this information is unknown to the investigator, the MIF staff can assist the investigator to make a determination.
MIF staff are focused on assisting instrument use. Assistance regarding sample prep, post-processing, and after hours assistance is limited and should be requested by email beforehand.

7. Sample Preparation and Storage

Users are expected to prepare, properly label, and otherwise safeguard their own samples in an appropriate manner. The safekeeping and storage of samples is the sole responsibility of users. To maintain an orderly work environment, the only samples that are permitted in the MIF are those which will be examined in a given analysis session. At the end of an analysis session, all samples must be promptly removed from the laboratory.

Users are invited to utilize our facilities for sample preparation prior to scheduled sessions.

8. Data Management

All users are responsible for the saving, storage or backup of any data obtained using MIF equipment. Users should allocate the appropriate amount of time at the end of each imaging session for that purpose. Data may be retrieved from MIF computers and servers through user-supplied CDs, DVDs, USB flash drives or USB external hard drives. Since digital imaging often requires GBs worth of data, users should be prepared to manage large amounts of image data. The MIF has limited storage space.
It is advisable for users to wait until they have the data transferred to another computer and confirmed that the data is uncorrupted prior to deleting it from the MIF computers and server storage in order to avoid loss of data.
Data drives on the MIF computers and selected servers will be cleared on the third Friday of each month so users must ensure timely retrieval of data. For users using USB flash drives to transfer data, every effort should be made to confirm that their drives are free of computer viruses prior to use.
Users are responsible for their own data retrieval and for the security of their own data. Please contact a staff member if you need help retrieving your data.