Getting Trained

[Updated 8/28/2023]

The MIC is open in full!  Masks are still recommended – thank you! See the full campus Covid-19 information here

Steps for getting trained:

  1. View training videos:
    1. (~90 mins) Holly’s Intro to MIC Confocal Lecture, (ask for permission here). This is REQUIRED for CONFOCAL TRAINING. For slide scanner training, ask for the Slide Scanner Video (ask for permission here).
    2. (~6 mins) How to NOT damage the objective lenses (by Jennifer Waters, Harvard). This is REQUIRED for CONFOCAL TRAINING. :
    3. Coming soon: lecture on lightsheet microscopy (for those needing training on lightsheet).
    4. (Optional) Videos on sample prep:
    5. (Optional) For more detail on objective lenses:
  2. Take the Quiz (This is REQUIRED for CONFOCAL TRAINING):
  3. Fill out the MIC User Registration Form  Give us a description of your samples & imaging needs. This is required for all access to the MIC prior to training or access for any system, including image processing workstations. Failure to complete this step will delay your training or access.
  4. Sign-up for an iLabs (Kiosk) account. This is where we schedule all reservations and we will not schedule a training if you do not have an iLabs account. It is also where you will login to Kiosk to start your session each time you come to the microscope – this is our electronic logbook! Failure to complete this step will delay your training or access.
    • MIC iLabs Registration Form
      • You will get 2 emails from:
        •  The first is a notification that your request was received.
        • The 2nd email has information you need to follow to COMPLETE YOUR REGISTRATION. 
        • Please search your spam folder if you do not find these emails within 24 hours. Email if you do not receive them. 
    • Know your iLabs login & password info when you come for training! 
  5. Make sure you have appropriate controls prepared:
    • It’s advised to check that your staining worked prior to coming to the facility. If you have a fluorescence microscope in your lab, please check there. If you don’t have access to a scope in your lab, ask to get trained on our scope Bender for checking signal prior to coming to the confocal or slide scanner! (Bender training is quick, self-taught and use is free! Ask us how!)
  6. Email to setup a short Zoom meeting (~15 mins) to discuss your imaging goals with members of the MIC Team. Or come by and chat in person! We are in 251 Weill Hall! We will work out a training plan together during this meeting.
    • Due to the on-going Covid situation, we may request that you wear a well-fitting mask over your mouth and nose throughout the training. Thank you for helping us protect everyone!
    • Know your iLabs login & password info when you come for training! 
    • We may ask you to watch/review instrument-specific (or technique specific) training videos or documents before coming to the MIC so you know what to expect and to help the training move along more quickly. These videos are also available for you to refresh or review after the on-site training as well.
    • Each instrument has a posted Start Up and Shut Down procedure in the room to use a guide & reference.  
  7. Read the MIC rules and regulations which all users must adhere. By gaining access and using the equipment at the MIC, you are agreeing to abide by these rules and agreeing to site the MIC in any publications resulting from data acquired at the MIC. 

*Note: some instruments require additional training(s), such as EH&S Laser Safety Training or FLIM training, while a select few require shorter training sessions at reduced or no cost. You may also have advanced experimental needs that we cannot cover in the initial training, such as live cell imaging, spectral unmixing, Airyscan imaging, or multiphoton imaging. Filling out the MIC User Form helps us determine what kind and how many trainings you will need. In general, we only charge for the initial training session, or for re-training after 6-months of non-use. 

Non-UC researchers: Access to the MIC starts with RICs:

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I get building access?

Who may use the Molecular Imaging Center?
The Molecular Imaging Center is open to all scientists! Outside users are charged a greater recharge rate to use the facility, generally 2x the UCB rate. ALL USERS MUST BE TRAINED BEFORE ACCESSING THE EQUIPMENT. In very rare cases we can do imaging for you (for an additional surcharge). 

What should I know before coming to the MIC?

  • You should know what your goals are for imaging. Are you looking to see structural differences in treated vs control or do you want to do longterm time-lapse imaging or quantification of fluorescence intensity, tracking of particles, counting of nuclei, etc.?
  • You should know what dyes/fluorophores you are using and what excitation and emission peaks those dyes have. If you don’t know, check out:
  • You should know your iLabs login & password! [recommend that you try logging in prior to coming to the facility]
  • In addition, you should know how to prepare your samples for imaging. You should know if your samples are live or fixed and whether or not they are biohazardous. We are happy to consult with you about your imaging goals and requirements at any time.

How much is training?
Standard training costs $290 per person and includes access to online training lectures and materials, hands-on training with your sample, and additional trainings as needed on the same or similar instrument. Training can often be done in pairs from the same lab at a single cost. Non-UC users are charged 2x ($580) for training. 

Do I need to watch the training lecture? And why?
Yes, everyone must view the training lecture. The lecture is meant to give everyone a basic understanding of fluorescence imaging and laser-based confocal imaging, as well as to share tips for successful imaging early on in the microscopy data collection process. It also includes an overview of the resources available at the MIC and elsewhere on campus.

I know everything about confocal microscopy, do I still need to be trained?   Yes, everyone must be trained by MIC staff. While some of our microscopes may be similar to ones you have used in the past, each instrument is unique and our core may have different rules than another core or your previous lab. On the upside, your training can be quite brief if you really do know the microscope and software! 

What should I bring to training? Bring a typical sample that you plan to image. For fixed samples, make sure to use glass slides with # 1.5 coverslips that are sealed, dry, and clean.  We do not recommend training on live samples, as we want to focus on instrument settings and setup and not the health of the precious sample. If you can bring a fixed sample that is similar to your live sample, that is ideal. Or if you must bring a live sample, for an inverted systems, please use a coverglass-bottom dish (again, #1.5 coverslip), such as those available from MatTek or ibidi, and use culture media without phenol-red or riboflavin to reduce background fluorescence. For upright instruments, please check in, as the clearance and depth of focus varies depending on the instrument. For lightsheet, please email us for the sample prep guide! Don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions regarding sample prep!

What happens during training? 
You will receive one-on-one hands-on training with your sample on the most appropriate microscope system for your experiment. You will be taught how to start up and shut down the system safely.   If you have specific expectations or goals, please let us know ahead of time

Ideally, you will sign up to image on your own a day or two after receiving training so you can really lock in the learning on the system. Repetition helps create learning. 

What happens after training?
You will receive calendar access to schedule the instrument on iLabs, as well as the necessary door-codes or building access (see links above). Additional training/guidance is available after the initial session on an as-needed basis and is typically non-billable (i.e. FREE). Please email us ahead of time if you would like to Zoom at the scope or ask more questions! We can also do remote support at most of our systems.

I attended training a year ago and have not been back since, why can’t I just jump on the instruments?  Well, the primary reason is because you have likely forgotten a few things. Also, our systems change – we upgrade parts, replace or move things and entire systems around (we moved 5 systems in 2020-21 and 3 in 2022 and 1 already in 2023). The microscope may be in a different room or building from the last time you used it! We also update start-up and shutdown protocols and so you should check back in with us before signing up if it’s been a while!

How much does it cost to use MIC instruments?
Hourly charges on most MIC instruments range from $9 – 58/hour for campus users.  All prices are listed on iLabs. Outside user rates are generally 2x, unless posted elsewhere on iLabs. 

What other services does the MIC offer?

  1. We offer a slide scanning service for limited projects or collaborations.
  2. We can train you and a small group on your own instrument at $290 for the first 2 hours and $76/hr for each additional hour. 
  3. We are available for consultation regarding all matters microscopy.
  4. We can help write or edit your Methods Section for your publication. Please send us your Methods before submission so we can help!
  5. We host and present online tutorials for the community – ask us if you have topics you want to learn about!
  6. We write letters of support (LOS) for grants and fellowships.

Do I need laser safety?
Nearly all of the instruments are deemed “Class-1 use” and do not require laser safety. A few systems, however, do. Please check with Holly if you are concerned and think you may require it. 

I used one of the MIC’s instruments to obtain data for a publication.  How should I acknowledge that information in my manuscript?
First – Congratulations on your paper and thank you for remembering us! We love to showcase your work! Please consult the Acknowledging the MIC page for grant and citation information.  When your paper is in press, contact Feather so we can feature it on our MIC Publications page! There’s also a handy form for entering your pub to be included if you don’t want to email. 

Can I get after-hours access to the scopes?
After hours access may be granted to UC Berkeley graduate students, postdocs, and researchers after appropriate training. Undergraduates may not request after-hour access. Non-campus parties must also work during the 9-5 M-F time period. 

Have additional questions? Email