Laboratory Loves

We asked this year’s all-stars for the one thing they need to survive in the lab

Renee Frontiera: Lock-in amplifier


Frontiera counts on this device, which helps her zero in on spectroscopic signals. “Who wouldn’t want orders-of-magnitude improvement in signal to noise?” she asks.

Fikile Brushett and Staff Sheehan: Potentiostat

This instrument helps Brushett and Sheehan control multiple electrodes while testing their batteries and solar fuel devices, respectively.

Michael Feasel: 16-channel pipettor


Feasel says that before purchasing this gadget, he was hand-pipetting assay samples into each well in a 384-well plate. His lab life has been “bliss” ever since.

Luke Connal: Schlenk line

“A good vacuum pump connected to a good Schlenk line (or four),” Connal says, is indispensable for degassing solutions while making his polymers.

Marie Heffern: Label maker


“If you know where things are—where your samples are—and have that minimal degree of organization, this will be better for the lab, will help new lab members feel welcome, and will aid experimental success and efficiency.”

Corinna Schindler: Automated chromatograph

After you load your samples into this instrument, Schindler says, they get purified for you so “you can do other things, like set up another reaction or go to lunch.”

Ashish Kulkarni: Rotary evaporator


This solvent remover is important in helping Kulkarni’s lab synthesize novel drugs and nanoparticles.

Jillian Dempsey: Instrument manuals

“We have developed manuals for every instrument and technique in our lab, and new members complete training modules before starting their own electrochemistry or laser spectroscopy experiments.”

Bozhi Tian: Chemical vapor deposition system


Tian and his group built their own CVD system (senior grad student Yuanwen Jiang is shown using it) to help them grow silicon nanostructures that they then interface with biological cells.

Daniel DiRocco: Ultraperformance liquid chromatograph/mass spectrometer

This instrument, DiRocco says, “gives us the ability to collect a lot of information from experiments rapidly.” It makes it possible to “analyze our data as quickly as we can generate it.”

Florence Wagner: A window


Wagner says she needs a room with a view to help her stay connected to the world outside the lab.

Credit: Drjohn100/Wikimedia Commons (Amplifier); Thermo Fisher/ (pipettor); Shutterstock (Label maker, window); Edsel Little/Wikimedia Commons (Rotary evaporator); Courtesy of Bozhi Tian (CVD system)