NCCAT Merit badge program2020-05-22T19:27:44+00:00

NCCAT 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.

The merit badge award includes several steps:

  1. Theoretical background (knowledge),
  2. Knowledge test (pass/fail shared test),
  3. Demonstration (center staff training),
  4. Practice (supervised and unsupervised by user), and
  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 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 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.

Sample preparation

Phase I

The start of a cryoEM project.

Negative stain

Room temperature work

MB1

Making use of electron dense salts to visualize a macromolecule.

Learn more

Support films

Room temperature work

MB2

Adding support films to a grid.

Learn more

General handling

Cryogenic work

MB3

Handling, Storage, Shipping & Safety for cryogenic work.

Learn more

TFS Vitrobot

Cryogenic work

MB4

Plunge freezing and instrument certification for Vitrobot Mark IV.

Learn more

Leica EM GP

Cryogenic work

MB5

Plunge freezing and instrument certification for Leica EM GP or GP2.

Learn more

Gatan CP3

Cryogenic work

MB6

Plunge freezing and instrument certification for Gatan CP3.

Learn more

Manual

Cryogenic work

MB7

Instrument certification for a manual plunge freezer.

Learn more

Chameleon

Cryogenic work

MB8

Instrument certification for operation of STP Labtech Chameleon.

Learn more

Autoloaders

Cryogenic work

MB9

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

Learn more

Microscope operations

Phase II

Microscope use and data collection.

Phase II under development.

General lvl.1

Microscope use

MB10 lvl.1

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

Coming soon

General lvl.2

Microscope use

MB10 lvl.2

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

Coming soon

General lvl.3

Microscope use

MB10 lvl.3

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

Coming soon

Gatan

Direct Detection Devices

MB11

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

Coming soon

TFS

Direct Detection Devices

MB12

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

Coming soon

DE

Direct Detection Devices

MB13

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

Coming soon

Gatan

Side entry holders

MB14

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

Coming soon

SO

Side entry holders

MB15

Use and care of the Simple Origin cryo holder.

Coming soon

Autoloader

Autoloader systems

MB16

Autoloader operations (inventory, TUI, etc…).

Coming soon

EPU

Data collection

MB17

TFS EPU for automated data acquisition.

Coming soon

SerialEM

Data collection

MB18

SerialEM for automated data acquisition.

Coming soon

Leginon

Data collection

MB19

Leginon for automated data acquisition.

Coming soon

Data pre-processing

Phase III

Feedback during data collection.

Phase III under development.

General

Pre-processing

MB20

Data management and basic linux command line.

Coming soon

On-the-fly

Pre-processing

MB21

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

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