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Biochemistry Senior Laboratory Instructor

Department: Chemistry Effective Date: August 2008

USG 09

35 hr/wk

Reports to: Undergraduate Laboratory Coordinator

General Accountability

A Senior Laboratory Instructor is responsible for the day to day operation of a suite of laboratories.  General responsibilities and duties are found in Section 2 of this document, while specific responsibilities, which vary from one laboratory to another.

Nature and Scope

The major goal of a Senior Laboratory Instructor is the organization and management of laboratory sessions in a manner that encourages scientific inquiry and maximizes learning opportunities for students


To ensure that a laboratory course provides an atmosphere conducive to the above general goal, the following general duties and responsibilities are common to all Senior Laboratory Instructors. Specifically, Senior Laboratory Instructors are charged with


2.2.        the care and maintenance of the physical facilities, including permanent fixed equipment, scientific and teaching equipment, and apparatus, inventory control and the ordering of replacements when required;

2.3.        the routine day-to-day operation of the laboratories during all three academic terms, including supply of materials and chemicals, safety precautions and housekeeping; this may include the testing of solutions and preparations to ensure that they function correctly in the specific experiments for which they are intended; cooperation with the Chemical Preparations Technician, and with Chemistry Storeroom staff members may be necessary in achieving these goals;

2.4.        the assembling and testing of new experiments or modification of existing experiments; the physical verification of laboratory manual experiments as recommended by faculty members teaching associated lecture courses or who may have been assigned responsibility for the introduction and development of new experiments by the Undergraduate Laboratory Coordinator; the compilation of laboratory manuals required for each laboratory operation for which the Senior Laboratory Instructor is responsible.


Other general responsibilities are:

2.5.        to obtain from appropriate Chemistry Department faculty members an understanding of the intent and general nature of each laboratory course, to select sets of appropriate experiments for each term of operation of the laboratories, and to determine the method of arriving at an overall laboratory course (or course component) grade; appropriate records must be maintained;

2.6.        to allocate the assigned Teaching Assistants to specific sections of multi-section laboratory courses;

2.7.        to oversee the work of the Teaching Assistants, including such instruction as shall be necessary to ensure that the Teaching Assistants are effective in the performance of their duties, including the grading of student laboratory reports and the recording of grades for individual experiments.  Senior Laboratory Instructors are expected to set good examples in the performance of such duties;

2.8.        to set up appropriate marking schemes for the individual experiments, and to provide these schemes to the Teaching Assistants;

2.9.        to be responsible for the demonstration of the use of equipment and the experimental techniques employed in the laboratory courses for which the Senior Laboratory Instructor is responsible;

2.10.      to be responsible for the proper disposal of all chemicals and waste solvents associated with the operation of their assigned undergraduate laboratories;

2.11.      to be responsible for averaging the grades for each set of experiments done by each student and for the preparation and administration of any required laboratory examinations needed; course grades shall be submitted to the Registrar=s Office via the Undergraduate Laboratory Coordinator;

2.12.      to assist in the operation of laboratory components/courses other than those specifically assigned in this document when a fellow Senior Laboratory Instructor is ill or otherwise unable to be present for the operation of his/her laboratory.  It is expected that each Senior Laboratory Instructor will therefore become familiar with the operation of at least one laboratory component/course that has not been assigned specifically in this job description.  This familiarization process should be carried out during the term in which the contact hours are the lowest.

2.13.      other duties as assigned from time to time by the Department Chair and/or the Undergraduate Laboratory Coordinator .    

Statistical Data

Specific Accountabilities

The Biochemistry Senior Laboratory Instructor is in charge of the supervision and management of the second and third year biochemistry laboratory courses CHEM 237L and CHEM 335L. A good organic chemistry/biochemistry background is a necessary prerequisite for a person in this position.


The Biochemistry Senior Laboratory Instructor must possess a working knowledge of common spectroscopic instrumentation, including infrared, uv/visible spectrophotometers and nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers, plus a working knowledge of gas chromatographs.


The Biochemistry Senior Laboratory Instructor consults with the instructors associated with the lecture courses CHEM 237, CHEM 331, CHEM 333, and CHEM 357, so that the laboratory experiments are in harmony with the material taught in them, but will otherwise work independently of the course instructors, except in the case that the Department Chair has assigned a particular faculty member the task either of introducing a number of new experiments into one of CHEM 237L or CHEM 335L or of revising the entire laboratory course, as may happen from time to time. The Biochemistry Senior Laboratory Instructor will also coordinate with the Senior Laboratory Instructor in charge of the laboratory component of NE 224, whose laboratory operates out of the same undergraduate laboratory space.


The Biochemistry Senior Laboratory Instructor is specifically responsible for the teaching of the concepts to be developed through carrying out laboratory experiments in biochemistry and, in particular, for the teaching of biochemistry laboratory techniques and procedures.


The Biochemistry Senior Laboratory Instructor is responsible for the continual updating and improvement of all experiments, the development of new experiments (normally in conjunction with a faculty member), and for the revision and/or rewriting of corresponding laboratory manuals.


The Biochemistry Senior Laboratory Instructor directly supervises all graduate Teaching Assistants who have been assigned to the Biochemistry laboratory courses and, in particular, has the responsibility for ensuring that all Teaching Assistants fully comprehend both the procedures to be used in and the concepts associated with the set of experiments for which they are to be made responsible.


Administrative duties associated with this position include:

-             the creation and updating of computer files for the students= laboratory reports and final grades;

-             the setting and administration of any required laboratory examinations;

-             the submission of final laboratory grades, via the Undergraduate Laboratory Coordinator, to the Registrar=s Office;

-             the ordering of new equipment and chemicals for all biochemistry laboratory courses;

-             sending equipment to appropriate vendors for repairs;

-             organization of the setup and dismantling of special equipment (such as pH meters, Spec 20=s, electrophoresis equipment, chromatography columns, etc.);

-             keeping track and maintaining electrophoresis equipment, water baths, centrifuges, stills, and other new equipment.

The Biochemistry Senior Laboratory Instructor is responsible for the coordination and use of equipment shared with other areas of chemistry, specifically:


-             special items (shared with research groups);

-             special stores equipment (shared with Chemistry Stores);

-             ensuring that equipment required for a given experiment and signed out by students from Chemistry Stores is returned to Chemistry Stores by the end of the laboratory period.


The Biochemistry Senior Laboratory Instructor also has a number of daily responsibilities that can be summarized as follows:


-             setting up equipment and ensuring that it is functional;

-             setting out chemicals in appropriate containers and at appropriate locations in the laboratories;

-             maintaining the laboratory equipment, including the fixing of minor equipment problems where feasible;

-             replacing chemicals that run out during the weekly experiments;

-             ensuring that equipment and chemicals have been put away at the conclusion of each experiment;

-             ensuring that the laboratory is kept clean and maintaining a safe laboratory environment;

-             closing each laboratory section upon completion of the laboratory period.

Working Conditions

Space, scheduling and other factors may necessitate that Senior Laboratory Instructors work special schedules including for example, work in the evenings.  Senior Laboratory Instructors are expected to accomplish their duties by arranging their hours of work to allow them to be present during scheduled laboratory hours.  In particular, Senior Laboratory Instructors are responsible for closing each laboratory session.