Centralizing Services and Safeguarding Research

Posted: January 21, 2020
By Shelley Wong

To better serve the UCSF research community, Facilities managers are personally meeting with lab managers to understand their needs. Associate Director Adam Schnirel began the Lab Services Initiative a year ago with the goal of breaking down silos and centralizing systems of information for lab equipment and emergency services. Schnirel and colleagues are walking through every research building on campus and holding information sessions to improve support services for lab and research space.

“We’ve had good reception from lab managers, who are doing all of the behind-the-scenes work,” says Schnirel. “By meeting with them one-on-one and through the lab management steering committee, we’re able to understand their challenges and see where we can offer services and assistance. They would welcome a more centralized system, so we are looking at ways we can build that solution. In the big picture, we want to become a one-stop shop for equipment maintenance through the Lab Asset Management program.”

In addition, Schnirel and colleagues are informing people about back-up power options and helping labs become compliant with seismic bracing. Last fall, PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff events provided new urgency to protect UCSF labs and research assets across multiple sites.

The new initiative provides back-up power solutions and preparation for earthquakes and fire emergencies. In their lab walk-throughs, facilities managers are assessing for emergency power access, freezer monitoring, and seismically braced lab equipment. As part of earthquake preparedness, seismic bracing of common lab equipment is now provided to all labs at no additional charge. Schnirel and colleagues are evaluating for next steps to increase lab back-up power and bracing.

In parallel, Facilities managers are conducting an inventory of equipment across lab spaces to understand how lab neighbors are operating and making purchase decisions. Sharing equipment between labs is mutually beneficial by lowering costs for purchasing and maintenance. Another opportunity to save valuable time and money is through the freezer cleaning and monitoring program. Schnirel and colleagues are preparing a recommendation for a new freezer temperature monitoring system later this year, as fifty percent of freezers are not monitored at UCSF.  

Improving communications channels is an important part of this effort, as is demonstrated by the boots-on-the-ground approach to meeting with lab managers. Facilities managers are building a database of contact information for every research space on campus, which adds up to over one million square feet at UCSF. The team is committed to making research support easy to understand and access, and they are exploring better ways to communicate with labs and researchers about infrastructure, project requirements, and services.