As far as COVID-19 goes, Level 1 is the worst threat level. Harris County remains at Level 1, or “Severe Threat” for infection of the novel coronavirus. Yet, as they say in the theater, “The show must go on!” And for the most part, research is continuing in many ways. Surveys, interviews and other socially-distanced research has been easy to keep up during the COVID … [Read more...] about Too Close for Comfort: Human Subjects Research in the Age of COVID
The Big Bang
Avoiding errors When you ask anyone, including researchers, how they are sleeping these days, the typical answer is an invitation to hear about myriad sleep disturbances: vivid or lucid dreams, waking throughout the night, restless leg syndrome and just plain old insomnia. COVID-19, civil unrest and uncertainty about the future of our nation have brought about huge … [Read more...] about How Are You Sleeping?
You just missed your niece’s birthday, misplaced your debit card and forgot to eat dinner last night after working late in the lab. These are relatively benign examples of collateral damage for a researcher who is overworked. But what about the female researcher who puts off having a family because she is working 80 hours a week? What about the scientist who is injured in an … [Read more...] about Are You a Lab Rat? How to Achieve a Work/Life Balance as a Researcher
On the southeast corner of the University of Houston campus resides one of the most highly lauded, well-run animal facilities in the country: Animal Care Operations (ACO). Particularly renowned for how efficiently it is managed and maintained, ACO recently received continued accreditation through the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care … [Read more...] about Running Smoothly: How ACO Maintains its Facilities
Don't go into the light (without proper safety precautions!) We all remember the mom from the famous movie, Poltergeist, relentlessly instructing little Carol Anne to run towards the light in order to save herself from ghosts. In that situation, the light saved Carol Anne’s life, but we all know Poltergeist is just a movie. In real life, different degrees of UV lights … [Read more...] about Light Safety, Heavy Consequences
For the most part, we all know how important it is to adhere to universal lab safety rules such as wearing closed-toe shoes or properly labeling all chemicals. Oftentimes, we forget about the human relations side of the safety equation. Cultivating positive working relationships with colleagues is as important (maybe even more so) as learning the “technical” safety rules of a … [Read more...] about The Human Touch: Camaraderie Promotes Safety in the Lab
Fashion does exist in a science lab. Although the attire may not be the latest trendy jacket or shoes, all the cool science kids wear PPE (personal protective equipment) while making discoveries and solving the world’s biggest mysteries. Furthermore, consistently wearing PPE is extremely important and a critical part of the scientific process. “Appropriate personal … [Read more...] about Are You Down With PPE?
Penny-Pinching PIs Life is expensive and all of us try to save money when we can. On a good day, we’re able to save a lot of money on the things we need by using online platforms such as Amazon or eBay. Saving a dollar or two on milk or Kleenex is like hitting a home run for many people. Can you imagine how a PI feels when they save hundreds or thousands of dollars on … [Read more...] about When Buying Off eBay Goes Bad!
When safety in the lab depends on instructions, thoughtful (and colorful) signage makes a huge difference in creating standard, impactful communication. I recruited David Brammer, executive director of Animal Care Operations and Chief Veterinarian at UH, to help me better understand the components of effective science lab signage and communication. Not only is Dr. … [Read more...] about What’s Your Sign? Creating Effective Lab Signage
Safety protocols are only as good as the Principal Investigators who enforce them and the students who adopt them. Operating a lab is no easy feat. It takes patience, consistency and teamwork. In an attempt to learn more about how PIs create a culture of safety, I reached to a few across our university campus to get some tips and tricks for creating effective safety … [Read more...] about Ditch One Size Fits All Safety Protocols
Meet Joe Tremont…he’s the University of Houston’s director of environmental health and life safety. His job is to keep our researchers safe and prevent things from blowing up in the meantime. … [Read more...] about Café O’ Fume Hood is NOT served here: Creating a Culture of Safety in the Lab