The Indiana University Bloomington's (IUB) Electron Microscopy Center (EMC) has begun using Agilent's CrossLab (aka iLab) platform to manage billing, instrument reservations and projects. This web-based platform is fully integrated into the IU financial system and the reservation system replaces the EMC's previous use of Google calendars to manage instrument reservations. iLab is a project management system that can be used to track both facility requests such as training and also fee-for-service projects. The system greatly simplifies both our month-to-month billing process and reporting various "use metrics" for the EMC. Several other core facilities on the IUB campus are already using iLab (e.g., the Light Microscopy Imaging Center [LMIC] and University Information Technology Services [UITS] are currently using iLab for billing) and it is likely that all IUB facilities will eventually use this system.
Introduction to iLab
Getting Started in iLab
Since iLab is integrated into the IU financial system, every principal investigator (PI) is already part of the iLab system. However, when PI's start to use facilities that are dependent on iLab, they will need to login, create a new password and do a few things like add members and financial accounts to their iLab lab account (aka an iLab group).
In addition, each user of the facility needs to create an iLab account and to associate that account with their PI's group. Once a user account for any iLab core facility has been created, that account can be used to access any other IU facility that uses iLab.
NOTE: It may become necessary for PI's and users to update their iLab profiles. For example, a person's status could change from graduate student to post-doctoral fellow or post-doctoral fellow to research scientist, someone could move from lab A to lab B or from department LMN to department XYZ, etc.
Using iLab to Make Instrument Reservations
After both the PI and users have created their iLab accounts, EMC instrument reservations can be made using iLab. In order to make a reservation, a user must have a valid financial account available in iLab and must be authorized to use the instrument without supervision. Reservations cannot be made more than 2 weeks in advance. The EMC staff is allowed to make user reservations further in the future, and will do so for all reasonable requests. There are generous limits to the length of time equipment can be reserved (but again, the EMC staff can assist if it is necessary to reserve equipment for longer times). There is currently not a limit to the number of reservations that a single user can make within the two week time limit.
Making a Linked Reservation
For the JEOL JEM 1400plus and the JEOL JEM 3200FS, it is also possible to reserve several specimen holders from the microscope reservation page (and to 'link' the instrument reservation and the holder reservation).
Requesting to be Trained on EM Center Equipment
All equipment in the facility is available on either a fee-for-service or a fee-for-use basis. Before any fee-for-use work can be done, the EMC requires training with the equipment involved. Such training extends to everyone who uses the facility, including those familiar with similar/identical equipment elsewhere. All requests for training should be initiated through iLab.
Requesting Project Consultations
When starting a new project with the EMC, please initiate all discussions by requesting a consultation with EMC staff using iLab. Such consultations can be as simple as a request for discussion about the EMC facilities or as complex as the initial planning stages for a months-long cryoEM project. Consultations can also be used to discuss future directions for the EMC, potential equipment purchases, collaborations outside the IUB campus, etc. We offer an overview of the process of starting a project in the Electron Microscopy Center (EMC).