General Training Info

Training at BIF is by request and depends on the availability of the instrument. Training sessions will be done in groups of no more than 3. If an individual session is specifically requested, additional instrument time and technician time charges may apply.

Our goal is to place you in training as quickly as possible, but keep in mind that we do have limited space in each training session. We kindly ask for patience during the times we have an influx of training requests.

Requesting Training

  • Before requesting training, please check out the instrument specific information regarding training procedures (see below). If you have any questions about which instrument best fits your needs, please contact BIF staff ( prior to requesting training.
  • Send your request for training via email to BIF staff (j-hornick@northwestern.eduor request training through NUCore. We will inform you of the next available training date and ensure that you have any relevant information prior to training.
  • Upon requesting training, you will be asked to download and complete the New User Application form. This form can be found here. Bring this with you for your first training session.
  • Any person wishing to use any of the Confocal systems must complete the Office for Research Safety’s Basic Laser Safety Training before beginning training on the microscope.

If you have any questions regarding training, please contact BIF Staff.

Confocal Microscopy Training

BIF has three Confocal systems — a Leica SP5 Confocal Laser Scanning System, a Leica SP8 Confocal Laser Scanning System and a Leica Spinning Disk confocal. All laser scanning systems are fairly similar and produce quality images. The spinning disk is specifically designed for live, highly dynamic systems. If you need advice about which microscope is best suited for your research, please contact Jessica Hornick (

The training is 2 days, approximately 2-3 hours per session.
Training costs are detailed on the Rates page and are per person. Training sessions are group sessions of up to 3 people.

During these sessions, you will learn how to optimize and capture images of multiple fluorophores. The first session is based largely on imaging standard, fixed slides. For the second session, trainees are encouraged to bring in research specimens for imaging; however, please do not expect to collect data during training. Rather, emphasis will be on getting comfortable with the microscope and optimizing imaging settings.

BIF does not offer training every week on the confocal microscopes. Generally training is offered every other week — however, this is dependent on availability and demand.

Method Development-Imaging or Data analysis

BIF staff are experts in designing and running imaging experiments. If you need assistance designing an experiment or imaging project, we are happy to help! Charges will be based on actual time spent with users and/or working on method design.

Image processing and analysis is a critical step in an imaging project. BIF staff can help design analysis methods using FIJI/ImageJ. Charges will be based on time spent, after initial consultation.

Please contact Jessica Hornick ( for more information or to schedule a consulatation.

Wildcard Access

Normal business hours in the Biological Imaging Facility are Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. Staff make every effort to be available during those hours for user assistance. Experienced users may request Wildcard access for entrance to BIF outside of normal business hours.

Please complete and submit the Access Request Form along with a photo or scan of the front and back of your Wildcard.