With the emergence of core facilities across the academic community has come the need for their good management. Increasingly the role of facilities manager has become a promising career route for graduate and post-doctoral scientists.
A core facility typically offers state of the art instrumentation, fully serviced and maintained with a high level of expertise in their operation and scientific applications. In terms of a mass spectrometry core facility, this can involve receipt and processing of samples, analysis using validated assays, data interpretation, and reporting of results. Servicing, maintenance, upgrades, and good laboratory management are essential if the core facility is to be successful and reliable and maintain a good reputation within the scientific community.
Management of a core facility is quite a unique role in that you are able to fully focus on a technological aspect of your research or studies but also allows you to develop a surprisingly wide range of other skills, e.g., people management, resource timetabling, technical troubleshooting, financial management, and even marketing.
There is no typical day for a core facility manager. It predominantly requires resource and study management but can involve anything from instrument maintenance, managing core staff, and liaising with service engineers and sales representatives. Further to that it can include meeting with potential new investigators to assess scientific viability and financial feasibility of new studies. It is also important to have a strong awareness of current and future technological improvements in your area of expertise in order to future proof the facility. Validating assays for scientific papers and interpreting and reporting results to investigators are also potential requirements, all of which play on different skills.
In order to provide an excellent core facility then the first port of call is often the manager, where being approachable and willing to share your knowledge and expertise is a must!