We’re Looking for a Few Good Research Role Models

August 19, 2019

Rat photo with Looking for a Few Good Research Role Models sign

With many new faculty, staff, and students descending upon campus to start the new academic year, we’re looking for a few good research role models.

You may wonder, what makes a good research role model?

Any individual in any position (student, administrator, faculty, staff, technician, etc.) can serve as an exemplary research role model for others when they demonstrate the highest levels of responsibility, integrity, and care that are necessary for conducting research at the University of Michigan.

Consider the following three key characteristics…

Regardless of outdoor weather conditions, personal attire worn in the laboratory and animal care facility should ALWAYS provide full coverage of the legs, feet, and torso.

Diagram showing people wearing different personal attire in the laboratory

Specifically:

  • Shirts or tops must cover the upper torso;
  • Shorts, skirts, or pants/capris that leave any part of the leg, including the ankle, exposed are NOT permitted;
  • Shoes must completely cover the feet. Sandals, ballet flats, open toe, open weave, or shoes with holes are NOT permitted; and
  • Pantyhose and/or nylons are also NOT recommended due to an increased risk of injury from chemicals or heat melting nylon to the skin.

Lab coats must not be worn in animal rooms but are an essential component of proper laboratory attire and must be worn when handling chemical, biological, or radiological materials. This requirement also applies to work at a lab bench or with equipment where such materials are handled (even in warmer weather) in order to provide maximum protection to the wearer.

The coats must be maintained in good condition and should be laundered when they become dirty due to spillage or other contamination. Lab coats must be laundered by a commercial company (i.e., Cintas, Sohn Linen). Do NOT launder lab coats at home or via a laundry service that is not equipped to handle lab coats.

Where to Find More Information

A complete list of proper laboratory attire can be found in the U-M Chemical Hygiene Plan. Additional information about the specific level(s) of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) required for working with different animal species and associated hazards is available on the Department of Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) website and in the EHS Animal Handler PPE Chart.

Shield icon protecting animal transport cageAll methods of transport between animal care facilities (either from room to room, building to building, or through a public area) MUST, first and foremost, provide for animal health and welfare.

When transporting animals, you must also:

  • Follow as direct a route as possible,
  • Conduct the transport in a timely manner,
  • Avoid temperature extremes
  • Use appropriate discretion (e.g., cages are covered, and public areas are avoided whenever possible)
  • Ensure that primary enclosures are:
    • Secure and carefully handled
    • Maintained in a manner that prevents them from tipping or falling, especially on uneven surfaces
    • Handled in a way that minimizes any physical trauma or distress to the animal(s)
    • Made of material(s) that can be sanitized or disinfected to prevent any cross-contamination

More information, including a detailed list of species-specific transport instructions, is available in the Procedures for Animal Transportation.

ULAM Truck Services are also available to:

  • Transfer animals between buildings,
  • Deliver animals received at the ULAM Dock to other facilities across campus, and
  • Pickup animals shipped to the Detroit Metro Airport.

To arrange for transportation services through ULAM, please email ulam-truck@umich.edu or call (734) 936-2011 or (734) 936-6163. A minimum 48-hour notice is required for all trips.

Blueprint icon to safeguard the research environmentThe ability to minimize and control environmental variables is not only critical to achieving the highest animal welfare standards, it is also critical to the conduct of rigorous scientific research.

Disruptions that seem small and seemingly insignificant to us – loud music, changes in noise or sound patterns, strong or unfamiliar odors, exposure to excessive or inappropriate light sources – can have major effects on animals.

These changes not only have serious implications on animal health and well-being, they may also impact animal behavior, which could alter the variables in a neighboring lab’s study.

Help safeguard the research environment for your peers and the animals under our care by being mindful of the following:

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Minimize loud and excessive noise. Rodents, which comprise over 95% of all species used on campus, are particularly sensitive to loud music and noises. Help minimize exposure to loud noises by using cushioned casters and bumpers on carts, and refrain from using radios, alarms, or other sound generators in animal rooms. Audible music is NOT allowed in animal housing areas unless it is part of your approved protocol or part of an animal enrichment program.

   
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Be conscious of strong or unfamiliar odors. Strong perfumes and other agents designed to mask odors should never be used in animal housing facilities as they may expose animals to volatile compounds that can alter their basic physiologic and metabolic processes. These items are also NOT valid substitutes for existing facility ventilation structures and appropriate sanitization practices.

   
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Use light appropriately. Most laboratory rodents are nocturnal and, as such, should not be exposed to strong lights at night. Use a flashlight to check specific cages and minimize inappropriate light exposure if you must access your animal room at night. Improper light exposure can have different effects on different species, including refusal(s) to eat and changes in reproductive behavior.

 

Maintaining a safe and secure environment for our peers and the animals under our care is critical to the integrity of our research. Any issues pertaining to room or facility maintenance should be reported immediately so that they may be appropriately triaged.

Questions?

  If...   Contact:

You have questions or concerns about safety and/or environmental health

You have questions about proper animal transport
You encounter issues pertaining to room and/or facility maintenance

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