There are several ways for you to use the equipment available in the MCL. Consultation and project submissions are ideal for those without a scientific background and provide the most support for your project. Equipment assistance and self-serve equipment use is available for clients who wish to have a more hands-on approach to their project.


We are happy to consult with you for free via email or phone about the techniques and machines that will be the most useful for your desired results. Recommended techniques or characterization tools may include services that we do not provide. In that case, we will try, but do not guarantee, to find another lab that offers the technique.

How to get consultation assistance

Send us an email or give us a call during our open hours, and we’ll be happy to assist you.

Project submissions

If you wish to leave the analysis to us completely, you are welcome to submit samples. We aim for a 2-week turnaround time; turnaround time depends on the project’s scope, the number of projects in our queue from other clients, and the availability of the equipment in question. We do not have refrigerated, desiccated, or non-air sample storage, so all samples should be packaged accordingly. Results returned can be anything from raw data files to a full report. Interpretation of results or creating in-depth reports will be billed at the rate of our technician’s time if that time exceeds 15 minutes.

How to submit a project

Fill out a Work Authorization Form.

Once you have received the email stating that your account is complete, contact us to arrange a time to drop off your samples. When you arrive at the lab, staff will ask you to fill out an Analysis Request form which we use to track samples and project status. Please come with a good idea of the machine(s) and parameters you’d like to use. See the Consultation section above if you need help identifying techniques/ machines that will be the most useful to you.

Lab staff will schedule machine time on your behalf and will return results when finished.

Equipment assistance

If you are interested in being an active participant without being trained, we offer technician assistance. This is ideal for short or one-time projects, or projects with few (5 or fewer) samples. This is a great way for those who have little experience with characterization techniques to become familiar with their results.

How to get a technician to help

Fill out a Work Authorization Form and read through the rules of the lab.

Once you have received an email stating “Your work authorization is complete,” contact us to arrange a time to use the requested instrument with a technician’s assistance. Please do not attempt to schedule yourself, as we cannot guarantee that a technician will be available at that time. See the Consultation section above if you need help identifying the techniques/ machines for your project.

We will work with you to arrange a time that you, a technician, and the desired equipment are all available. We will put the agreed-upon time on the calendar. At the end of the scheduled session, we will send the collected results to you.

Self-serve equipment use

If you have a large number of samples (5+) or a long-term project (2+ months), you or one of your group members should be trained to use the lab equipment. This decreases lead times to schedule time with our lab staff and keeps you from having to pay for technician assistance. Once trained, the lab equipment is yours to use according to availability.

How to use machines on your own

Fill out a Work Authorization Form. If you are an off-campus researcher, make sure you receive login information (you can respond to the emails you receive about your form to get login credentials if necessary). On-campus users use their uID and CIS password to log in.

To get trained, look through our instrument list and open the instrument(s) you’re interested in using.

  1. Watch/ read all the required videos and documents,
  2. Watch/ read any of the supplementary material that relates to your analysis needs, and
  3. Read the rules of the lab.

Then contact us to schedule your supervised run (the first time you use any machine, you are required to have a technician present). Please do not attempt to schedule your first time yourself, as we cannot guarantee that a technician will be available at that time. Make sure you have your samples ready to go before coming in.

Once you have completed your first run, you may schedule future time for yourself without contacting us first. Log in via “HSC Resources login” at and click on “Materials Characterization Meldrum” (blue) to see our equipment. Click the machine on which you have been trained. This will show you the schedule for the week. Use the arrows in the top right to click back and forth between weeks. Select the time you’d like to start and the duration of your use. Put any relevant notes (or PO numbers) in the notes section at the bottom. Please be as precise as possible in your scheduled time, as you may be billed for unused time.

For machines that need warm-up time, please arrive at the lab before your scheduled time to turn on the machine. Once ready, run your samples as trained. Clean up station fully before leaving – push in chairs, throw away gloves, return wipes, solvents, accessories to their proper storage location.