How a Core can Save You Money, Time, and Space: A Roundtable Discussion with Current CU Boulder Core Facility Managers and Directors


Mitsy Canto-Jacobs, STV Incorporated


Amber Sorensen Scott, University of Colorado Boulder
Theresa Nahreini, University of Colorado Boulder
Dustin Quandt, University of Colorado Boulder
Kathryn Ramirez-Aguilar, University of Colorado Boulder

In this 1.5 hour session, the organizers propose to organize several brief presentations that highlight the organization, operation, and impact of shared equipment facilities on their relevant research at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder). The presenters will discuss multiple facets of their different facilities (listed below), including cost recovery models, reduction of duplicated instrumentation, and improved scientific rigor. These presentations will then be followed by a period of open discussion between the audience and a panel of facility directors wherein other topics can be discussed such as how to promote a user facility, establishment of best practices, and common pitfalls to avoid.

This session will be led by directors/managers of the following facilities at CU Boulder.

  • The BioFrontiers Next-Gen Sequencing Facility (Biof-NGS) at CU Boulder is a shared facility with the latest equipment for DNA sequencing including three Illumina sequencers, a NextSeq 500 for large projects and two MiSeqs for smaller-scale sequencing projects.  The goal of the core is to quickly and effectively offer new sequencing technologies to the CU science community to push research to the next level of genetic investigation. Illumina maintains a website with the most up-to-date citations about the experiments being done with these instruments.  At the facility, users are assisted with determining the best option for their project, taking into consideration the research aims, timeline and research budget.
  • The Biochemistry Cell Culture Facility (BCCF) at CU Boulder is a shared facility with personnel and shared resources for conducting cell culture work. 19 labs use the facility from three departments (the Biochemistry Division of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; Chemical and Biological Engineering; and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology). The BCCF is not a fee for service core. Users conduct their own research in this Biosafety Level 2 facility with most labs having multiple users in the facility each day.
  • The BioCore manages shared laboratory spaces and research equipment in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Integrated Physiology, and Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology departments. Equipment ranges from general equipment to unique and costly instruments. Maintenance, instrument usage tracking, and training is performed by the BioCore manager. The BioCore manager also connects researchers with shared equipment throughout these departments and a growing catalog of available shared resources is maintained. The BioCore offers the following services: equipment and shared lab management, connecting researchers to needed equipment, equipment storage, lab cleanouts, property management, and grant and contract compliance for equipment.
  • The Green Labs Program uses a team approach to minimize the use of energy, water, material goods, and hazardous chemicals in CU Boulder laboratories without compromising research integrity or safety.  Laboratories are important centers of intellectual innovation and discovery in our society. They also have a large environmental footprint. Because laboratories are large consumers of resources and thus present huge opportunities for conservation, a special emphasis for conservation has been placed on laboratory operations since 2009 through the creation of the CU Green Labs Program.  In 2017 Facilities Management reported that major laboratory research buildings at CU Boulder occupy 22% of campus square footage but were responsible for 43% of campus energy use. CU has approximately 400 laboratories on its Boulder campus.  The CU Green Labs Program is working with these labs to promote the efficient use of resources by:
    1. Involving individual laboratory members in identifying opportunities for efficiency in their laboratory and promoting efficient behaviors
    2. Upgrading inefficient laboratory equipment and techniques
    3. Compelling labs to use lab space, fume hoods, and lab equipment resources efficiently and in a collaborative manner
    4. Developing means to reduce the large flow of lab materials into the waste stream
    5. Promoting green chemistry and chemical re-use where feasible
    6. Raising awareness about the large resource footprint of laboratories

Learning Objectives

  • Learn about the many advantages to shared equipment;
  • Learn how core facilities benefit space and cost reductions;
  • Learn about the operational and theoretical expertise that result from cores; and
  • Learn about how core facility managers and directors are an invaluable resource for research and grant applications.



Mitsy Canto-Jacobs is a Sr. Architect and Lab Planner based in Washington DC who leads Science + Technology for the Building and Facilities group of STV Incorporated. She has promoted evidence-based design for facilities and has supported complex laboratory projects for government, academic and industry clients. She was a founding member of the I2SL National Capitol Chapter Board.


Amber has been the Director of the Next Generation Sequencing Core since 2017. She received her PhD in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from CU Boulder where she specialized in Bioinformatics and Genomics. The BioFrontiers Next-Generation Sequencing facility offers full support for sequencing projects for CU researchers and local companies.

Theresa Nahreini manages the Biochemistry Cell Culture Facility and Flow Cytometry Shared Core on the east campus of the University of Colorado-Boulder. After completing her Bachelor's degree in Biology from Ball State University, she went on to obtain a Master's degree in Organic Chemistry from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Theresa has over 30 years of experience working in academic laboratories in Indianapolis, Cold Spring Harbor and the University of Colorado-Boulder where she has conducted cell-based research and managed laboratory operations including purchasing, training of investigators in both cell culture and flow cytometry techniques and overseeing regulatory compliance requirements.

Dustin Quandt is the Manager of Shared Equipment for three biology departments: Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Integrative Physiology. Dustin has Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science and a Master's degree in Science Education. Dustin has over five years' experience working in and managing research labs ranging from Chemistry, Optical Physics, Forest Ecology, and Molecular Biology.

Kathy has a doctorate in Analytical Chemistry and 15 years of laboratory research experience within the fields of Biochemistry, Analytical Chemistry, & Organic Chemistry. She is passionate about greening laboratories at CU-Boulder which account for nearly half of all energy consumption on campus. She is also engaged with the green labs community on a national level through active participation in the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL), Green Labs Planning Group, and the DOE Better Buildings Alliance, where she regularly collaborates and shares ideas with colleagues at other universities and federal agencies who care about efficiency and sustainability in lab environments.


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