MCEM Access during COVID19 Restrictions

latest update: 05.08.21 4:41pm

ANNOUNCEMENT: In line with Government and University directives, restrictions have been announced for Victoria, starting from 8:00 pm Thursday 5th August.

We are very sorry that we must again change the access rules for MCEM, in order to comply with these restrictions. The following points apply for this lockdown period:

  • Access to MCEM is limited to existing users undertaking Essential Research as defined by the Victorian State Government and implemented by Monash in the four Essential Research principles, see the government definition below.
  • All training will be rescheduled to occur after the lockdown.
  • MCEM staff will be working from home, except where necessary to support essential activities. As always, staff are available during business hours via email and phone.
  • All bookings in iLab during the lockdown period will be cancelled (otherwise iLab automatically charges you). If your research meets the Essential Research criteria (see below), please contact the relevant instrument manager to make a business-hours booking, if necessary, during the lockdown period.

Monash definition of Essential research services (see COVID-19 updates - Fact Sheet)

This is defined by one of the following four principles:

  • Principle 1: The storage and management of existing samples and data research, infrastructure that are temperature and environmentally-sensitive
  • Principle 2: Management and care of critical living resources, and the equipment and materials they depend on
  • Principle 3: Research addressing the impact of COVID-19, and research in support of the hospital and broader health system
  • Principle 4: Long-term experiments or studies that otherwise would be prohibitive to restart.

Examples of research that aligns with these principles are: Research to support clinical trials in serious diseases such as cancer, leukemia and lymphoma; drug discovery and development activities such as the development of mNRA vaccines, inhaled oxytocin; University platforms to facilitate these activities, such as MARP, the Centre for Drug Candidate Optimisation (CDCO), and the Monash Genome Modification Platform; collaborative research programs that support partners (and jobs) in health-related industries.

We will provide a further update as we hear more from the State Government and from Monash University. As always, please contact us if you have any queries via, we will help wherever we can within the current COVID restrictions.

For further information please refer to the Monash University fact-sheet

MCEM COVID-19 Key Risk Controls are as follows:

  • No person may enter MCEM if they are unwell or have one or more of the possible COVID-19 symptoms. (Fever, Breathing difficulties, Breathlessness, Cough, Sore throat, Runny Nose, Fatigue or Tiredness.)
  • No person may enter MCEM if they have had contact with a known COVID-19 case within the previous 14 days, or have returned from overseas within the last 14 days.
  • Face masks must be worn at MCEM. These are provided in the reception area.
  • Hand sanitiser must be used frequently and, in particular, before and after use of instruments. Sanitiser is provided throughout the building. There are handwashing sinks located in laboratories G35 and G37.
  • Users must bring their own laboratory coat, safety glasses and pen.
  • Where possible, MCEM staff will provide remote assistance to users via phone. If physical presence is required 1.5m distancing will be enforced.
  • The MCEM kitchen and some toilets are reserved for staff use only.

Building access

Access to the MCEM building will be provided from 8:45am to 5:30pm on University business days.

You must register your entry and exit to the building via the card reader at the entrance to the building, or using the provided QR code (this is to facilitate contact tracing, should an infected person use the building).

Maintaining 1.5m distancing rule

Microscope laboratories:
  • If you are working in an MCEM lab and require staff assistance, please stay in the lab and phone the relevant staff member (phone numbers are listed on the lab notice board). If the problem cannot be resolved by phone, the staff member will attend and social distancing must be maintained at all times (this may require the user to leave the room or stand at the door).
  • Users must complete their session on time and leave the room promptly to minimise  interaction with other users.

Specimen preparation laboratories are limited to 1-5 people depending on the size of the room. See notices on doors.

Computer room: Computers in the computer room must be accessed remotely via TeamViewer.

Meetings and communications: Wherever possible communication with MCEM staff members will be by email, telephone or Zoom. Assistance on instruments may be conducted via TeamViewer.

Use of liquid nitrogen (LN2)

For TEM users and cryo-PIPS users:

TEM users and cryo-PIPS users will no longer be permitted to fill LN2 dewars from the 160lt vessel in the gas store. Instead, MCEM staff members will provide LN2 in 2lt containers in labs to top up cold traps. TEM users and cryo-PIPS users must bring and wear their own LN2-appropriate safety glasses, laboratory coat and footwear when handling LN2 from 2lt dewars. Please contact the relevant instrument manager for training in the new procedure for handling LN2.

For cryo-fracture and cryo-ultramicrotomy: Please contact an MCEM staff member if you need to undertake cryo-fracture or cryo-ultramicrotomy.

New Project Requests

New Project Requests will be processed and new Project numbers will be allocated in iLab for existing projects without any significant changes. New Project Meetings will be conducted by Zoom.

General user support

  • As always, MCEM staff will endeavour to assist you with your research in whatever ways are possible. Please contact the MCEM Manager or Instrument Manager with any queries you may have.
  • As always, if a suitably-qualified MCEM user wishes to undertake microscopy work for other members in their group on a registered project, this can be organised by contacting and providing the project number and the name of the group member the user wants to assist. (Remember, microscope booking time is allocated per project, so there is no penalty to your allocation of instrument time.)