Microscopy Facility User Policy

Please be aware that this is a common use facility that is utilized by many researchers who expect the equipment to be in proper working order at the beginning of their session. Microscopes are expensive to repair and time spent on maintenance is at the expense of the users. Please be courteous to others and be careful when operating the microscopes.

MCDB Calendar Scheduling

  • New users must complete the Light Microscopy Core Facility’s Training Application and agree with all facility policies. Once completed Dr. James Orth will reach out to perspective applicants accordingly.
  • You must schedule your time in the MCDB Calendar – this ensures that other users know that you are coming and can leave the system on, if appropriate. This calendar runs through the University of Colorado's server and is only accessible off campus with Cisco's Virtual Private Network (VPN). Click on the link to the VPN & download the software for your operating system. Directions on how to install the VPN are available under the documentation tab of the download page.

Scheduling Logistics

  • For use of the Orth lab microscope (Dante) for live samples, users must have permission from Dr. Orth. If you’re interested in performing long-term time-lapse please contact Dr. Orth prior to scheduling time.
  • You can only sign up for microscope time one week in advance or within the week.  For complex experiments, special long-range arrangements can be made with the Director.
  • All use for every system must be documented in the Excel log sheet located on the Desktop (even if it is just to copy some files).  If you logged in to the PC, log it in the Excel sheet.  If there is no Excel entry, you will be billed at imaging rates.

Access and Training

  • Facility access will be granted upon completion of the necessary training.
  • Training is only provided by the Director of the LMCF and is done one-on-one.  Contact the director to schedule a training session.
  • Training sessions will last 1-3 hours based on prior user experience, instrument, and will consist of both background information and practical use of the microscope. The goal is to ensure proper and effective independent use of the microscope.
  • Replacement of damaged equipment is the responsibility of the liable user/lab. 
  • If you encounter any problems, stop immediately and contact the director.
  • After hours (outside of M-F 9:00am to 5:00pm) use of any LMCF microscope requires full independent proficiency and authorization from the LMCF Director. 

Usage Limits

  • Mon – Fri: Each individual user can book a maximum of 4 hours between 8:00am and 6:00pm.
  • Labs are limited to 6 hours of use per day between 8:00am and 6:00pm.
  • If no one else is signed up you may continue to image.
  • Do not book more time than you need; abuse will result in billing of unused time.
  • Do not reserve time for use of the computer.  You can only schedule time in the MCDB Cal for imaging.  Imaging takes priority over computer use.
  • Start your session punctually (on evenings and weekends as well as regular hours).  Repeated over-scheduling will result in billing for the full scheduled time, not just hours used.
  • Consult the Director if you need to reserve more time on the microscope.

Cancelling Your Session

  • If you need to cancel your session, delete your reservation in MCDB Cal as soon as possible. 
  • If you have scheduled time and you are unable to make it and can no longer delete the reservation from the MCDB Cal, you must email the Director.  
  • You are responsible for making sure the system was turned off by the previous user.  This is especially important if you cancelled your reservation the same day or just before your start time.
  • Repeated “no-shows” will result in billing of all scheduled time and possible suspension of use privileges.
  • Failure to turn off equipment after use or being left on as a result of “no-show” for a scheduled time will result in billing for the complete time the equipment was left on.  This is especially important if you are the last scheduled user of the day.

Using the Microscopes

  • Login to all LMCF computers will require an IdentiKey.
  • Keep lasers on standby whenever possible to prolong their life.
  • At the end of your session, check the MCDB Cal; if someone will be using it leave the system on and log out of Windows/IdentiKey, otherwise shut it down.
  • Contact the next user if you finish early.
  • Turn each microscope on/off as described; don't turn on components you won't use.
  • Arc lamps must be kept on for 30 min at a minimum and need to cool for 60 min before being reignited.
  • Properly clean any oil objectives you used - when in doubt ASK FOR HELP.
  • The life of the lasers and mercury arc bulbs are not infinite; do not leave the microscopes on overnight.  
  • No alcohol or mind altering drugs may be used by anyone working in the LMCF; if the Director suspects this is the case, you will be asked to leave the facility.
  • Horse play and practical jokes will not be tolerated at any time and could be cause for suspension of facility privileges.
  • Do not leave any specimens/samples in the facility, dispose of them in your lab.

Live Cell Imaging in the LMCF - SOP

  • Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for transporting live human and animal-derived cell lines to the LMCF, handling them in the LMCF and transporting them from the LMCF when finished.
  • Any imaging of live samples must adhere to all guidelines including PI lab safety protocol and LMCF SOP.

Undergraduate User Policy

  • All undergraduate users must have a mentor to supervise use – 24/7.
  • Mentors must start-up and shut down the system and at least periodically check on the undergraduates.
  • Undergraduates do not do any troubleshooting and will go to either their mentor or the director at the first sign of trouble.
  • Failure of the mentor to properly supervise the undergraduate will result in suspension of facility privileges for both the mentor and the undergraduate.

You are Responsible for Your Data

  • The LMCF is not responsible for data storage. 
  • Any images left on the computer hard-drives are unsafe and may be deleted.
  • Store your images on a server or move your data to other media storage devices at the end of your session.
  • Image storage is subject to the data plan associated with the user’s lab funding and general best practices. 
  • Please don't leave an excessive amount of data on the facility computer; they can quickly get over-loaded by the volume of image files produced.



Training and education: All new users receive training for the instruments they wish to use. We are happy to train you on as many microscopes as you need to use. Refresher courses and advanced training are available for users previously trained.

Advice: To ensure you get the most out of microscopy we are available for discussion about all aspects of your imaging - conceptual approaches, sample preparation, reagent purchases, image acquisition, troubleshooting and image processing and analysis. No question is too big or small; please contact us with any queries you have. All information is treated confidentially.

Collaboration: We are happy to have an active involvement in your research and provide intellectual and practical input towards the imaging aspects of your science. Contact the director to arrange a more formal collaboration.

Image analysis: Post-acquisition image processing and analysis is an important part of modern microscopy. We can assist and advise you with your analysis to ensure it is appropriate and optimal.

Host demonstrations: If your lab is interested in testing a piece of imaging equipment it may be easier for you (and better for the company and other users) if the demonstration be hosted by LMCF.

Help with lab equipment: If you need help with your lab microscope we might be able to assist (e.g., train you how to change the bulb or train in detail someone in the lab to look after the system).

Take over lab equipment: If your lab has imaging equipment that is either little used or burdensome to run, it may be possible to transfer the equipment to the facility allowing continued usage for you, access to others, and reduced cost to your lab.

If there are any other ways in which we can facilitate and add to your research, please contact us.