To assist the principal investigator (PI) in the process of performing research, CHME laboratory researchers are expected to perform the following tasks:
- Literature search and review
- Experimental design
- Environmental, Health, & Safety (EH&S)
- Purchasing chemicals and supplies
- Preparation of experimental unit
- Experimental unit test run & modification plans
- Operation of experimental units
- Recording original experimental data
- Processing and presenting experimental data
- Documentation of results
- Housekeeping and analytical instrument maintenance
- Laboratory Access
Literature search and review
Researchers are expected to perform a search of the literature using both online and library resources. Online resources must include use of Science Citation Index to identify key publications and the ISI reference citation to identify additional related papers. Students should obtain an abstract of papers identified as relevant, and share such abstracts with the PI. Researchers should obtain electronic versions of the full paper for those abstracts that appear relevant, or order the key papers from Inter Library Loan, or request the PDF directly from the author(s).
Researchers should assure they understand the objectives of the project on which they are assigned to work. The project PI should supply a copy of any relevant proposals or project plan that will aid the student to understand the major tasks and challenges associated with the project, as well as provide guidance on anticipated results, as well as to barriers to success.
Researchers must seek understanding of the experiment principles. Find a closely related paper, draft a flow diagram, and list major transport processes and reactions associated with the project.
With this understanding, researchers should draft a Wish List containing what they perceive as necessary chemicals, instruments, supplies, analytical methods. This list should then be discussed with the PI.
Researchers are expected to draft an Experimental Plan, that fully documents experimental procedures, major processing conditions, and safety considerations. This draft should include a finalized Process Flow Diagram (PFD) in electronic format for the process they intend to operate. The draft should also present selected instruments, chemicals, supplies, and a summary of all experimental conditions. The document should also outline anticipated results based on the reading of literature.
Environmental, Health, & Safety (EH&S)
Researchers must complete all required training and the Experimental Safety Plan review process before entering the CHME labs, placing any orders, or performing any experimental work.
Purchasing chemicals and supplies
Researchers are expected to generate a Shopping List of all items needed for their experimental work. This list should include vendors with price quotes. Create the list on an approved purchase order form and solicit approval and signature of the PI.
NO CHEMICALS MAY BE PURCHASED UNTIL THE EXPERIMENTAL SAFETY PLAN IS APPROVED.
All chemical purchases must be made through the CHME Laboratory Manager to assure chemical inventory is properly maintained.
Once orders are placed, researchers should follow up the on the order by contacting vendors for shipping date and checking with the CHME office for shipments. Researchers should check the order for accuracy and completeness upon arrival, and sign off that the items were received with the CHME administrative assistant.
Preparation of experimental unit
Researchers should setup experiments following the PFD, seeking assistance from the PI, CHME lab managers, Chemical Hygiene Officer, and fellow researchers where appropriate. Researchers are expected to use common sense and caution. Researchers should never begin an experiment unless the ESP for the procedure has been signed by all parties.
Researchers are expected to be experts in the operation of all analytical instrumentation through reading of the instructions, and must consult vendors for clarification where instructions are unclear.
Experimental unit test run & modification plans
Researchers will complete a test run at design conditions and collect a set of data. Upon completion of one run, a discussion of the results with the PI should be scheduled before proceeding. Any necessary proposed modifications should be documented and executed. This will require the Experimental Safety Plan be modified and again approved by appropriate personnel.
Operation of experimental units
Researchers should again review the experiment plan and assure they are following all documented safety procedures. Begin by preparing necessary sampling systems, before starting the experiments. Assure alarms are set.
Observe and monitor experiment progress closely. Assure that automatic control are working as intended, and that data logging is on and operating. Do not leave an experiment unattended unless the appropriate unattended experiment documentation is complete and signed. Clean up after each experiment, or on a daily basis.
Recording original experimental data
Observe the experiments carefully. Record in a bound notebook what you observed. Record any unusual procedures. Record all numerical data, including any bad results (or unexpected results), always including units. Always record the time and date of the experiment. Never leave a lab notebook unattended. Lab books are legal documents that establish ownership of intellectual property.
Processing and presenting experimental data
Transfer the original data into computer files (typically Microsoft Excel). Convert data into SI units. Develop a graphical presentation or plot the data, if possible. Compare results with that which was anticipated. Evaluate the data, and record the data file name in lab notebook. Attached the processed data to original data. Repeat experiments for questionable data points.
Prepare one-page summary of the results. Bring original lab notebook and processed data to meet with the PI. Also bring related literature or published data. Do your homework and be prepared to be challenged on your results, and to suggest solutions to problems that occurred. Prepare a question list or shopping list prior to the meeting, and modify as necessary during the meeting.
Documentation of results
Collect all of the previously created experimental summaries from each experimental run, and use these to prepare a report or memo, comparing your results with literature or calculated expectations. Discuss with PI the expected format of the document. Seek and select a journal for publication of the work (obtain PI approval to proceed with the submission to the selected journal). Read the instructions for authors document for the selected journal, and download samples. Prepare an outline of the manuscript, including tables, figures and references. Work with PI to develop an editing schedule for completion of the manuscript.
Housekeeping and analytical instrument maintenance
Analytical instruments are expensive and are resources of the faculty member who secured their procurement. Before using an analytical resource, be sure you have the permission of the faculty member to whom the unit belongs.
Always clean up your mess in the lab. Label and store samples and chemicals properly as instructed in EH&S training. Improperly labeled samples and chemical containers can lead to large fines during inspections by state offices.
Clean all instruments, containers, tools, and other items used in the process of performing your research. Housekeeping includes maintaining the floor and countertops clean. Dispose used chemicals and wastes as per EH&S training.
Assure you close and lock the laboratory door when you leave the lab.
The Jett Hall research corridor is restricted access. Entry into the research corridor is a privilege. Researchers are not to escort others into this area without permission at the risk of loss of that privilege.