Core Laboratories and Facilities
In addition to its flexible laboratory spaces, the Science and Engineering Building also provides specialized core labs and equipment that facilitate cutting-edge research across several disciplines. By housing these instruments and centers in one interdisciplinary hub, the university has maximized its investment, allowing multiple researchers access to state-of-the-art technology. To learn more about opportunities for utilizing these labs/facilities, contact the SEB Administrative Offices at 702-774-4732.
The Aquatics Laboratory is a core lab which primarily helps support aquatic research in the Integrative Physiology group. The main portion of the lab consists of 5 small and 6 large tanks that are connected to a logic based dosing system. The dosing system starts with deionized water that is dosed to meet specified pH, conductivity and temperature for the aquatic organism. The intelligent system monitors and adjusts maintaining optimum water and water levels for the organism. The system makes the water on demand to ensure a constant supply of water that meets the necessary requirements for the aquatic species currently being researched. The tanks themselves are designed to help keep the aquatic organism away from its waste and in a static but isolated system to help keep the organism healthier and prevent cross contamination from the organisms in the tanks next to it.
Ai-Sun “Kelly” Tseng
UNLV Confocal and Biological Imaging Core is committed to providing access to confocal microscopy for all Nevada researchers. The central piece of equipment is this multi-user facility is a state-of-the-art Nikon A1R confocal laser scanning microscopy system (CLSM) with a resonance scanner for high-speed imaging of living samples and spectral unmixing for advanced applications. This system is mounted on a Nikon Eclipse Ti body equipped with advanced CLSM imaging resonance scanner, for rapid acquisition of images from living samples. Two additional digital imaging systems are available for epifluorescence and other types of light microscopy: a high resolution charge-coupled device (CCD) and a highly sensitive electron-multiplying CCD (EMCCD). Acquired images are compatible with the powerful, open-source FIJI image processing software.
The UNLV Soil Analyses Laboratory supports research on soil genesis, geomorphology (the study of landforms and the processes that shape them), and ecology through characterization of soils using basic physical and chemical analytical techniques. The laboratory has standard wet/dry chemistry facilities to analyze soil particle size, organic matter, pH levels, chemical content, exchangeable ions, extractable acidity, and organic matter. The lab also conducts Olsen-P, XRD, and SEM analysis, and it contains epoxy equipment for making soil thin sections.
The UNLV Genomics Core Facility was established to aid in the development and support of genomics-based research. The facility provides equipment and training for DNA microarray handling, Western blot/gel/microarray scanning, PCR amplification, and analysis of DNA, RNA and protein samples. Staff members at the facility provide general technical assistance; additional contract services are available as well, including flow cytometry, Affymetrix microarray processing, and Bioanalyzer analysis. The facility is partially funded by the NIH INBRE program.
The greenhouse has temperature-controlled areas for general research. It has four segregated bays that have separate climate-controlled systems that allow for replicated studies or for different conditions in each bay. Recent improvements in the environmental controls uses outside weather station data and interior sensors to predict the energy load to the bay and adapt rapidly to maintain a stable environment. In the event of equipment failure an alarm will be sent to users in order to alert them to conditions going out of specifications and prevent losses in research.
Electron microscopy is one of the most widely applied analytical techniques used in science and engineering. This facility is a multiple-instrument complex that includes an electron probe microanalyser, three scanning electron microscopes, a confocal microscope, and optical microscopes with digital image analysis computer systems. Users of the facility include faculty and students from geoscience, life sciences, engineering, and the Harry Reid Center for Environmental Studies, as well as academic researchers from other institutions and private industry.
The mission of the Las Vegas Isotope Science Laboratory is to produce high-precision stable isotope data in support of multi-disciplinary research directed at understanding global climate and environmental changes at millennial- to million-year scales in Earth history. The lab is committed to generating high-quality, high-precision data with a state-of-the-art mass spectrometer and peripheral support devices. The lab also continues advising UNLV faculty and students on sample preparation techniques and on specific analytical requirements and method development.
This core facility provides machining and materials fabrication services to the researchers in SEB. It contains numerical milling machines, welding equipment, conventional mills, lathes and drill presses, a paint booth, grinding equipment, and metal cutting and bending equipment. The machine shop is also staffed with skilled technicians capable of providing machining and model making services. The staff has computer facilities to handle 3-D CAD files for rapid prototyping and numerical machining; this includes ProEngineer, Solidworks, and AutoCAD 3D.
As a core laboratory, the Nanotechnology Clean Room has equipment for the design, fabrication, and imaging of nano- and microstructures. The facility contains two rooms with extremely low levels of particulate matter, such as dust or other pollutants. One of the rooms has a class level of 1,000, meaning that it contains no more than 1,000 particles that are .5 microns or larger within a cubic foot; a second room is a Class 10,000-level clean room. Clean rooms are necessary for sophisticated research involving optoelectronics, high-speed electronic devices, and nanostructures, including carbon nanotubes.
The National Supercomputing Center for Energy and the Environment (NSCEE) is a full-service supercomputing facility that supports and aids researchers across the nation in their study of wide-ranging subjects, including energy, the environment, medical informatics, and health care delivery. The center is utilized by UNLV researchers, as well as researchers at other academic institutions, government agencies, and private-sector partners. The center offers on-site and off-site user training and national network accessibility. The NSCEE also houses servers for various research groups within the SEB.
The Nevada Isotope Geochronology Laboratory has a wide range of uses in geochronology, which is the science of determining the ages of rocks, fossils, and other geological features, and thermochronology, which seeks to discover the thermal history of rocks, minerals, or other geologic units. The lab’s equipment enables researchers to employ methods to define eruption or emplacement ages of igneous rocks, to conduct volcanic hazards assessment, to better understand ore genesis, and to determine the ages of fossils. The Nevada Isotope Geochronology Laboratory, which houses a MAP 215-50 rare gas mass spectrometer, currently offers the 40Ar/39Ar isotopic dating method and will soon add 21Ne and 3He surface exposure dating methods. Surface exposure 21Ne and 3He dating has been applied to research aimed at understanding climate change, development of landforms, constraining erosion rates, and nuclear waste site assessment.
The NMR lab houses equipment (the 400-MHz NMR) that is used for a wide variety of chemical investigations. NMR has been used to investigate the structure of organic matter in the environment, to characterize newly developed materials, as well as organic materials of biological interest. NMR has been used for real-time measurement of chemical reactions and biological reactions in intact cells.
The tissue culture laboratory is a small core lab where eukaryotic cells can be cultured under sterile conditions. This facility currently helps support the Integrative Physiology group by culturing mouse, human and insect cell lines for further research. Cell culturing is an important way for researchers to study individual cells under controlled conditions.
This facility, which is used primarily in support of radiochemistry research and graduate education, enables scientists to better understand new compounds being created or characterized at UNLV, including radioactive elements that occur in nuclear waste. The equipment, which includes a Single Crystal X-ray Diffractometer and a Powder X-ray Diffractometer, allows researchers to measure the distances and angles between the atoms in compounds; the ability to do so makes it much easier for scientists to understand the properties of a new compound and to find new uses for it. This type of research has possible applications in the safe management of nuclear waste and other emerging technologies.
The XRF/XRD Earth Materials Laboratory facility houses equipment that enables researchers to analyze the atomic structure of minerals and to identify major and trace elements in solid materials. This allows science and engineering faculty and students to better understand the composition and structure of a variety of natural and synthetic materials and to learn more about how rocks and soils form. This in turn offers insight into wide-ranging areas, from the study of ancient climate conditions to assessing volcanic hazards to the crystalline structure of newly created materials. The two instruments housed in the laboratory – the PANalytical Axios Advanced sequential X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (XRF) and the PANalytical X'PERT Pro X-ray Diffraction Spectrometer (XRD) – are used by researchers in geoscience, chemistry, physics, materials science, civil engineering, and soil science. Researchers from the Desert Research Institute and private-sector partners also utilize the equipment.