US CryoEM Center Merit badges

To broaden access to high-resolution cryoEM for biomedical researchers and cultivate a skilled workforce.

What are cryoEM merit badges?

These proficiency badges are awarded to users of the facility in three main skill areas (Sample preparation, Microscope operations and Data processing). After trainees complete a necessary set of requirements they may apply for a merit badge. Receipt of a merit badge will qualify the user for independence, and be cross honored at another national service center for instrumentation use.

Each merit badge has a worksheet with information on the requirements necessary to be completed for the badge. Users should contact the NCCAT User Office to begin working on a particular merit badge. Once the requirements are completed, the user may meet with your User Coordinator to complete the theoretical portion and arrange an appointment to demonstrate the practical portion of the worksheet. After successful completion of the merit badge requirements, the user can then receive a merit badge.

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  1. Theoretical background (knowledge)
  2. Knowledge test (pass/fail shared test)
  3. Demonstration (center staff training)
  4. Practice (supervised and unsupervised by user)
  5. Practical test (2 separate staff observing at separate times)
A researcher may need to obtain several merit badges to have sufficient skills to conduct a cryoEM research project. The advantage of obtaining a merit badge at NCCAT is that it certifies that you are independent on a particular instrument or skill area to operational staff. Also, merit badges will be cross honored at other national service centers after completing an orientation program and verifying proficiency.

What merit badges are available?

Our list of merit badges may be revised yearly as instrumentation and best practices evolve. Each merit badge has a worksheet with information on the requirements necessary to be completed for the badge. Users should contact the User Office at the appropriate center to begin working on a particular merit badge. Once the requirements are completed, the user may meet with your User Coordinator to complete the theoretical portion and arrange an appointment to demonstrate the practical portion of the worksheet. After successful completion of the merit badge requirements, the user can then receive a merit badge.

Remote operations

Getting your samples ready for data collection

Shipping

CRYOGENIC WORK

Shipping & Safety for cryogenic work

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Sample Preparation

The start of a cryoEM project.

Negative stain

ROOM TEMPERATURE WORK

Making use of electron dense salts to visualize a macromolecule

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Support films

ROOM TEMPERATURE WORK

Adding support films to a grid

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Working with Cryogens

CRYOGENIC WORK

Safety and handling for cryogenic work

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TFS Vitrobot

CRYOGENIC WORK

Plunge freezing and instrument certification for Vitrobot Mark IV

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Leica EM GP

CRYOGENIC WORK

Plunge freezing and instrument certification for Leica EM GP or GP2

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Gatan CP3

CRYOGENIC WORK

Plunge freezing and instrument certification for Gatan CP3

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Manual

CRYOGENIC WORK

Instrument certification for a manual plunge freezer

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Chameleon

CRYOGENIC WORK

Instrument certification for operation of STP Labtech Chameleon

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Grid Clipping

CRYOGENIC WORK

Grid clipping,

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Autoloaders

CRYOGENIC WORK

Autoloader certification: clipping, nanocab care and sample loading/recovery

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Microscope Operations

Microscope use and data collection

PHASE II UNDER DEVELOPMENT

General lvl. 1

MICROSCOPE USE

Each center microscope has 3 proficiency levels. Level1: basic operations, integrated cameras & alignments.

COMING SOON

General lvl. 2

MICROSCOPE USE

Each center microscope has 3 proficiency levels. Level2: advanced alignments and camera operations.

COMING SOON

General lvl. 3

MICROSCOPE USE

Each center microscope has 3 proficiency levels. Level3: independent troubleshooting and off-hours use.

COMING SOON

Gatan

DIRECT DETECTION DEVICES

Use of the Gatan K2 Summit or K3 direct electron detector and DM.

COMING SOON

TFS

DIRECT DETECTION DEVICES

Use of the TFS Falcon3 or Falcon4 direct electron detector and TIA.

COMING SOON

DE

DIRECT DETECTION DEVICES

Use of the Direct Electron DE-20/64 detectors and DE Imaging Manager.

COMING SOON

Gatan

SIDE ENTRY HOLDERS

Use and care of the Gatan 626 or Gatan ELSA holder.

COMING SOON

SO

SIDE ENTRY HOLDERS

Use and care of the Simple Origin cryo holder.

COMING SOON

Autoloader

AUTOLOADER SYSTEMS

Autoloader operations (inventory, TUI, etc…).

COMING SOON

EPU

DATA COLLECTION

TFS EPU for automated data acquisition.

COMING SOON

SerialEM

DATA COLLECTION

SerialEM for automated data acquisition.

COMING SOON

Leginon

DATA COLLECTION

Leginon for automated data acquisition.

COMING SOON

Data Pre-Processing

Feedback during data collection

PHASE III UNDER DEVELOPMENT

General

PRE-PROCESSING

Data management and basic linux command line.

COMING SOON

On-the-fly

PRE-PROCESSING

Use of center specific on-the-fly packages.

COMING SOON

How long is merit badge certification valid for?

Each merit badge will have its own expiration date to ensure a high level of proficiency is maintained. There is no one-time interval that fits each category. After a merit badge’s certification period elapses center staff will verify proficiency to renew the certification.

RECERTIFICATION PERIODS

Sample preparation:

  • Room temperature work ~1yr
  • Cryogenic work ~6mo

Microscope operations:

  • General ~3mo
  • Direct detectors ~6mo
  • Side entry systems ~3mo
  • Autoloader systems ~1yr
  • Data collection programs ~1yr

Processing:

  • General ~1yr