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Frequently Asked Questions

Everyone has questions about microscopy. None of the microscopes are trivial to use and they all take everyone time and patience to learn.

To help you out I’ve listed 12 of the most commonly asked questions in BALM so you can get a quick answer.

If your question isn’t listed here then don’t hesitate to contact the BALM team. 

I want to use the Imaging facility what shall I do?

Contact the BALM team and lets get started

I’ve had an idea for an experiment. What next ?

Lets arrange a chat, we’re delighted to develop new methods in the facility and also to point you in the direction of other resources that could be useful. It is strongly recommended that you talk to your manager if you are a PhD student or postdoc about what was discussed

I’ve just finished my imaging session what should I do ?

There are helpful hints on the wall next to each microscope. The rule of thumb is if someone’s coming immediately after you (up to 1 hour), clean the objective lens you’re using, transfer your data and log off leaving the machine on. If no-ones coming for more than 1 hour please close the machine down.

The microscope isn’t behaving normally?

A tricky one. If you’re worried for any reason come and see Jan or Belén. If the BALM staff aren't available turn off the microscope and put a sign on it is saying its broken and EMAIL US! If you have a bit more experience with the microscopes then firstly try quitting the software and restarting. Next quit, log off, log back on and restart. Finally do a reboot. If none of this works come and see us.

My cells have died so I can’t use the microscope today. Now what?

Its a shame you can’t use the microscope today, but someone else might like to. Call or E-mail the person before and after you. They’ll probably be grateful for your slot. Alternatively E-mail the imaging distribution list and see if anyone wants your time.

Is it OK for me to train my friends / colleagues / lab mates to use the microscope? I’ve been using it for ages.

NO. You probably are very experienced, but everyone has a different learning style, pace and experimental needs and we have health and safety protocols for every machine. At BALM we are purposely set up to support new microscopists. If someone needs training please contact Jan directly.

I need to check my fluorescence should I book the confocal?

In the first instance please check your fluorescence on the MM Leica Epi or the Leica Epi. It is far cheaper and if your experiment hasn’t worked it’ll cost you less.

Can one of my friends use my login?

Plese do't do this. Its not really in your interests. You have your settings and your user area. If someone else accidentally corrupts your settings or fills up your user area your own work will suffer. Plus if there’s a problem with the microscope it will be your door that will be knocked at. Getting a login, particularly if someone already has one takes about 10 minutes, get your friends to e-mail us and we’ll get them going in no time.

I have a BSc student can they use the microscope?

Yes provided that they are supervised at all times, by you.

I want to put use of the imaging facility into a grant what are the costs?

It is a really smart idea to put the costs of imaging in your grant as light microscopy is unfortunately never cheap. Our costs are here. If you need more information, a statement of collaboration or some technical writing about imaging we’re happy to do it.

I’m about to submit a paper, I used the BALM facility for some of the data. Should I acknowledge BALM?

Yes please! It is important we have a track record of excellence to ensure our continued funding and survival. As our publishing users we would very much appreciate it if you could acknowledge us or cite us if we’ve contributed a more substantial amount of work.

I’m intending to use the BALM heavily can I prepay for use of the facility?

Yes, please come and have a chat about it. We don’t want to put people off by our running costs.

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