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Off Course

Last month I took a mini vacation to Northern New Mexico, a place I fell in love with years ago when I drove from my home state of California to New York after college. Taos and the surrounding area offer some of the most enchanting landscapes I’ve ever seen.

Pamela Ahlberg

Flying into Albuquerque, I normally rent a car and head straight north. But on this last visit my husband suggested we take a side trip to Los Alamos. Tucked away in the Jemez mountains and scattered across four mesas, Los Alamos is remarkable for its abundance of scientists and gorgeous landscape, but most notable for its role in the development of the atomic bomb. (Their bus line is called “Atomic City Transit.”) Visiting the Los Alamos Historical Museum, I was fascinated by the stories, artifacts, and photos related to the Manhattan Project. One photo that caught my eye was of various objects used in the lab in 1945, including a pair of “safety glasses”—round metal frames with large glass lenses. Thankfully we’ve made some progress in the area of laboratory safety since then. But perhaps not as much as we would like.

This month’s cover story presents statistics comparing the safety records of industry with those of laboratories, and the numbers aren’t good. “Occupational Safety & Health Administration statistics demonstrate that researchers are 11 times more likely to get hurt in an academic lab than in an industrial lab. There have been serious accidents in academic labs in recent years—including fatalities—that could have been prevented with the proper use of protective equipment and safer laboratory procedures.” Turn to page 10 to find out what you can do to improve these statistics and guarantee that all of your employees subscribe to the highest safety standards.

Last month we looked at the increasing acceptance and usefulness of laboratory apps and how that technology is changing the way laboratory work is carried out. This month we look at another technological trend—smaller and more portable analytical instruments. Like apps, these latest field instruments get researchers out of the lab and directly to their sample sources. Turn to page 32 to find out what’s new in this exciting field, including the use of dongles and drones.

Insights articles this month look at developments in metabolomics research (page 46) and neuroimaging (page 56). Our product focuses look at UHPLC systems for biopharma workflows, homogenizers for cell disruption, what to consider when choosing a fume hood, and deciding between a viscometer and rheometer. All good information.

Whether it’s mini or maxi, I hope you have some wonderful vacation plans for this summer.


Pamela Ahlberg