March 30, 2018

Meet Jeff Kamykowski, M.S., Core Technologist for the Digital Microscopy Laboratory

Jeff KamykowskiHow long have you worked at UAMS?
I have been at UAMS for ten years, 8 years in the Digital Microscopy Lab.

What is your favorite part of the job?
Everyday can be different, it never gets boring. It also helps when things work well the first time.

What types of equipment does the Digital Microscopy Core Lab offer to UAMS researchers?
The core operates and maintains computer controlled microscope workstations ranging from light to electron microscopy. We offer advice, training and user support for equipment operation (e.g., 3D SIM, PALM, CLEM, TEM) and sample preparation such as chemical fixation of cell culture and tissue samples.

We also have a range of sample preparation equipment for electron microscopy including a Leica high pressure freezer and freeze substitution units and a FEI Vitrobot unit for plunge freezing of samples. A Leica UC7 ultramicrotome is available for plastic sectioning for electron microscopy. Thick sections are cut with glass knifes for electron tomography. There is a Leica UC7 for cryosectioning. We also support negative staining and cryo-electron microscopy approaches to protein structure.

Are there any challenges?
Scheduling the processing of samples used to be frustrating, but the university incorporated the iLab management program and now the scheduling process is much simpler for all core users and core personnel. Sometimes it is a challenge to get things done that are not directly related to processing research samples and completing their technical analyses. Some of these tasks like IT calls and equipment/reagent ordering can be slow and involve several time consuming steps.

How do you interact with core lab users and handle potentially problematic issues?
Usually, I am able to spend the time figuring out a problem until either I fix it or realize the need to get outside help (e.g., service representatives).

How many samples do you work on annually?
In a year, too many to count. It really varies from week to week. I’m usually processing about six TEM (Transmission Electron Microscopy) samples at a time, in addition to helping with the actual imaging of the samples. Usually, there isn’t a stopping point between when I finish one group of samples and when the next group comes in from the same or a different researcher. It makes scheduling other activities like vacations an adventure in precision timing.

Speaking of after hours activities, what do you do for fun?
I never turn down an opportunity to watch a good sports game (i.e., football, basketball, soccer, hockey, etc.)

What personal skill or hobby don’t most people know about you?
Most people are surprised to learn of my cooking ability. Everyone always wants to know when I’m making more fudge. Irish Crème, German chocolate, and cookies and cream are favorites.