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Updated on 08/03/2020

Please view our NMC Operational Plan, which has been approved by the Neuroscience Center. Effective August 1st, 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions


Yes! We have begun to perform new user trainings. If you would like to request a training, please fill out a training request form on iLab. NMC staff will contact you to schedule a training consultation to discuss imaging and training options within 24 hours. Please note that it may take longer to schedule a training now than it did before the COVID guidelines were in place. If you have any questions about what system might be best for your experiments please contact core staff at neuro-microscopy@unc.edu and we would be happy to discuss options with you.

Here is an overview of the general process for a new user training in the NMC at this time:

  1. User submits a Training Request on our iLab site.
  2. NMC staff reaches out to confirm receipt of the Training Request and to schedule a consultation to discuss imaging needs.
  3. NMC staff and new user have a ~30 minute consultation by Zoom to discuss imaging needs and expectations for the next steps.
  4. New user drops off an example sample to be imaged in the ‘Sample Drop Off Area’ in 5110 MEJ.
  5. NMC staff confirms that the new user’s sample can be imaged successfully on the equipment discussed in the consultation.
  6. Training Session #1
In response to user feedback and survey responses regarding user preferences (thank you for your thoughtful feedback and responses!), the NMC has limited room occupancy of core rooms and implemented a 30-minute buffer time between users. Ensuring this amount of time for the room to be unoccupied allows for air turnover and reduction of any possible air droplets that may be present from the previous user. Adherence to these ‘buffer times’ and staggering of staff disinfection times is designed to ensure that occupancy in each room has as little overlap as possible and that traffic in NMC shared space (including hallways and stairwells) also remains low. Additional restrictions are also in place regarding the length and frequency of reservations per user to ensure access to our broad user base. NMC staff will work with any users who have specific concerns regarding their reservation scheduling to ensure their imaging needs can be met.
Core staff will clean instruments and all high touch surfaces in the rooms once per day each weekday (Monday-Friday). Additionally, we require that users disinfect specific parts of the systems both before and after each use. Detailed instructions on how to properly disinfect system components, and which components to disinfect are provided with the user guidelines, on our website, in posted signs by each system, and on the logsheets for each reservation.
We require all users to wear gloves (provided by the core) and masks (provided by your department/Center/unit) when in the core facility. Extra masks are also available on the PPE cart by 5114, if needed. Eye protection is optional, and the core has face shields available on the PPE cart by 5114 MEJ. Saran wrap is available to anyone who would prefer to change the existing saran wrap on a system before/after their use of the equipment.
NMC staff will continue to predominantly work remotely and will only be on campus for daily disinfection of equipment, maintenance, and service calls. NMC staff will also continue to be available for remote support for users on-site and in remote locations as needed and by appointment.
Calendar access for all users was restricted at the start of the ramp up period to ensure everyone had a chance to review our new guidelines before using the core facility. In order to gain calendar access, please submit a “Core/Calendar Access following Ramp-Up” request through the NMC’s iLab site (click here for more detailed instructions). After the request is received, we will send you a document detailing the new NMC facility use guidelines and you will be required to take a short quiz acknowledging that you understand the guidelines. Once the quiz is complete, you will regain calendar access to systems you have been trained on.

Please note that MEJ will continue to be badge-access only for the time being. If you do not already have badge access to MEJ, we will have to work with the SOM badge office and Neuroscience Center staff to process a building access request prior to your first reservation in the NMC.

Scheduling restrictions are in place to ensure that users can have flexibility to reserve time on the equipment, ensure adherence to lab, Neuroscience Center, and SOM policy guidelines, allow staff time to clean and disinfect, and let the room air turn over for safety of both users and NMC staff. Based on feedback from the user survey, users would prefer systems be unavailable for staff disinfection and maintenance midday on weekdays and available for night and weekend reservations with more flexibility. We have implemented a 30-minute buffer period in iLab that will automatically be added to the end of each reservation. In order to ensure the safety of NMC staff, the buffer time requirement also applies to reservations that occur prior to staff disinfection reservations. Adherence to unoccupied 30 minute buffer times is critical to ensure there is no overlap between users and to ensure the next user does not enter the room when liquid droplets are most likely to still be present from the previous user.

The following calendar features the time periods for each room/system when user reservations are restricted and time is reserved for NMC staff cleaning/disinfection and staggered scheduling to minimize passing contact between users

Please note that unrelated to the situation with COVID-19, in compliance with standard rate review at UNC-CH, our rates changed starting on Monday, June 1st. To view the new rates, please visit our website.

As the COVID pandemic has continued to affect research on campus, we have received more requests for ‘microscopy for hire’, occasions when NMC staff are requested to image samples/perform analysis for a lab/project. We are dedicated to providing support for all your imaging needs and are open to discuss the many possible options available. Please contact us by email to arrange for a consultation to discuss options that may best suit your imaging needs

We are still continually updating a list of resources (https://bit.ly/NMCCOVIDResources) that may be helpful for continuing data analysis and learning or engaging with the microscopy community online.
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns about imaging in the NMC. We will keep an anonymous survey open for any questions/comments/suggestions that you may have as we work through this process together: https://bit.ly/ContactNMC. UNC also has a hotline to report ethics concerns. We look forward to getting back to work with you in the near future!

Contact us: neuro-microscopy@unc.edu

Michelle Itano (itano@unc.edu)

Dan Keeley (daniel_keeley@med.unc.edu)

Preman Koshar (preman@email.unc.edu)