Familiarity Breeds Inefficiencies

Robert Cinq-Mars, University of New Hampshire

It is not uncommon for new research faculty to outfit labs with instruments and equipment they are most familiar and comfortable with from their experiences at grad school, post docs, and prior employments. This approach to start up lab design is problematic at the institutional level for a number of reasons including: not purchasing the best quality at the best price; not taking advantage of institutional discounts and agreements; and not giving adequate consideration to energy efficiency, sustainability or environmental impacts; utility requirements; service, maintenance and repair considerations; or shared resources already available at the institution. This presentation explains how the University of New Hampshire (UNH) is working hard to make the cultural shift and changes necessary to correct these inefficiencies in new startup lab design.

Efforts are currently made to educate new researchers of the existence and locations of core facilities and shared instruments but we are now making clear recommendations concerning exactly which instrumentation and lab equipment is preferred at our institution and why. While it is important to ensure that the investigator has all of the tools necessary to accomplish their research, it is equally important to ensure that the interests of the institution that will ultimately own, support and maintain the newly acquired instrumentation for decades into the future are considered.

Success in this endeavor requires working closely with new researchers during the planning of new labs, but also coordinating between academic departments, purchasing, sustainability and energy offices to ensure that laboratory instrument and equipment purchases are done in a manner which fulfill both the needs of investigator but also are more thoughtful and considerate of the broader scope and long term interests of the institution which go far beyond the immediate needs of a laboratory. In addition to coordinating and communicating the broader institutional concerns to new researchers centralized web content is being provided to improve and optimize instrument and lab equipment acquisitions in a manner more beneficial and efficient to all involved. Greater efficiency and benefits to both the investigator and the parent institution are achieved.

Learning Objectives

  • Attendees will learn how to identify systemic problems in their new laboratory acquisition and set up processes and how to implement positive changes.
  • Attendees will learn a process for identifying optimal instruments that fulfill all of the requirements of researchers AND take into consideration the long term goals and objectives of the institution including support for ongoing research but also sustainability, energy and upkeep.
  • Attendees will learn how to create and form profitable and efficient relationships with suppliers that are in the long term best interest of the institution.
  • Learn how to identify potential acquisitions early and coordinate laboratory instrument purchases through improved processes.


Rob Cinq-Mars is a senior electrical engineer with a strong background in motors, drives, control systems, electric power, pneumatic and hydraulic valves, and scientific instrumentation systems and software. He is currently employed as an Analytical Instrumentation Engineer with the Instrumentation Center at the University of New Hampshire.

Rob assists with the acquisition, installation, operation, maintenance and final disposition of scientific instruments and laboratories.


Note: I2SL did not edit or revise abstract or biography text. Abstracts and biographies are displayed as submitted by the author(s).