In 1979, when Jeanette Killius took over as EM Lab Manager at Northeast Ohio Medical University or NEOMED (formerly Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy), a JEOL TEM, model JEM-100S, had just been installed. More than 30 years later, she still shares her expertise on the TEM with a new generation of scientists, recalling fondly that first time she saw the microscope.
"It was brand spanking new. I almost cried at the beauty of it," she said, explaining that the TEM was a vast improvement from the RCA instrument on which she was trained. The 100S has a 50-sheet film pack so "I could take a lot more than five images before having to open the TEM to exchange the film. I thought that was grand." This was a far cry from her previous microscope that, for a while, was serviced by "TV repairmen."
Shortly after her arrival, the University took delivery of a new JEOL SEM model JSM-35C as well. The two instruments continue to serve NEOUCOM. Countless students and researchers have used them to study biological tissue cultures, nerve cells involved in hearing, corneal diseases, liquid crystals, and the adhesion properties of drug delivery systems, among many other research topics. Despite having been in use well before the term "nano" became a widely-used prefix, the TEM is being used to image polymer or gold nanospheres and produce crisp images at 100,000X.
Dr. Kyle Nakamoto, a post-doc at the University, discussed his need for TEM. "By using immunocytochemistry with gold beads and TEM, I can study the relationships between structures and cell types in the brain," he explains.
Jeanette feels that "the current uptick in TEM work is because of nanoparticles. A lot of people are creating nanoparticles and need to characterize them throughout their project." Eric Shoehnlen, a graduate student at nearby Kent State University, makes unique particles and tracks their uptake by tissue culture cells.
Jeanette has become something of an expert in keeping the TEM running at peak performance and resolving problems with the help of JEOL service engineers, in particular Rick Simon in the Pennsylvania/Chicago service office, who has taken care of the TEM for the past 26 years and the SEM for 18 years. Understanding older equipment has some unique requirements.
"Absolutely," said Jeanette. "We've had phenomenal support and I really do appreciate JEOL for that reason. Often Rick and I work together to diagnose a problem. You have a symbiotic relationship with your engineer."
Rick agrees. "Over my twenty-six years with JEOL, I have had an opportunity to get to know many older instruments and the customers that use them. Jeanette shares my love for A&W Root Beer as well as our annual spring hope for the Cleveland Indians. The increasing challenges of aging instruments lead to improvements in my problem solving skills and fires my imagination to greater heights."
Although retired two years ago, Jeanette continues to work on a part-time basis. "After all this time, I haven't lost my enthusiasm for EM," she says. Talk of an upgrade is on the horizon, corresponding to the development of a new research facility on the campus. Until then, she still has a few boxes of Kodak SO-163 film in the refrigerator.