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Getting Started

New Users

If you are interested in starting a project at the Beckman Institute Biological and Cryogenic Transmission Electron Microscopy Resource Center, please follow these steps.

  1. Be Informed
    Familiarize yourself with the current capabilities of Electron Microscopy methods. Simons Electron Microscopy Center at the New York Structural Biology Center has a wonderful overview page of points to consider prior to embarking on an EM project.
  2. Read Training Materials
    Read our Training page from top to bottom and start going through online materials, especially Prof. Jensen's online videos on the theory and principles of cryo-EM (14 hours).
  3. Submit a Project Form
    Fill out the Project Proposal Form for every new project/sample. A copy of the form will be emailed to the facility managers, user, and their PI. For any biohazardous samples, the protocol must first be approved by the Biosafety committee. A copy of the protocol then must be forwarded to the facility managers.
  4. Schedule a Meeting
    Schedule a meeting with staff ( to discuss the project.
  5. Establish an Idea Elan Account
    We use Idea Elan for Instrument Reservations. Watch the introductory videos on our Reservation page. If your group already has a Lab account, log into the system with your Caltech Access information and request access to your lab, the Facility, and the T12 microscope. If not, work with your PI and administrator to set up the Lab account on Idea Elan first, then set up your own user account.
  6. Establish a Project in Idea Elan
    To make a reservation on Idea Elan you will need to have a project in the Idea Elan system. If you are working on an existing project and your lab already has the project established in Idea Elan, ask to join it in Idea Elan. Otherwise, create a new project in Idea Elan. Make sure to give it an appropriately descriptive name and details as you would in our Project Proposal Form.

Consumables and Charges

The Center maintains all cryo-EM tools and supplies except for grids. Due to many options for the kind of grids and necessary careful storage and handling,  individual labs must plan in advance and provide their own grids. Individual labs are also welcome to use their own tools, e.g. the vitrobot tweezer, for possibly better tractability. Labs receive a single statement once a month based on their usage of the microscopes and the consumables of autogrid C-clip and C-clip rings. For more information about recharge rates, please contact the staff.