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Member Spotlight: Ron Niece

ABRF Member Since: 1989 (a founding Member and an ABRF Lifetime Membership Awardee)

Ron Niece

What drew you to ABRF?
ABRF did not exist in the mid-1980s. There was no professional organization concerned with shared resources utilizing the newly introduced automated sequencing and synthesis instrumentation. At the Symposium of American Protein Chemists in 1985, several individuals recognized that they were not alone in the operation of laboratories that handled samples for other laboratories. The University of Wisconsin Biotechnology Center was especially concerned because of its existing multiple core facilities and endeavored to promote the formation of an interactive forum for directors and staff where they would share concerns and technological advances. Initially several core facility directors began getting together informally and then began to organize more formal meetings, initially these were in conjunction with other meetings.
How has ABRF enriched your professional life?
The technology was developing swiftly and exchange of information and protocols was essential to keep up with latest capabilities, especially while running samples for outside users. Keeping up with the technology and instrumentation developments was an important focus. Furthermore, the business of running the core facility business was new to bench scientists. Sharing ideas to handle all of the non-science aspects was a learning experience for those of us new to fee-for-service activity.  Making a fee-for-service resource work was a goal. The awareness that a community would be important drew many of us in.
What are your hopes for ABRF for the future?
Research resource philosophy is not only going to continue but increase in importance and recognition.  ABRF can be part of the development of awareness of the benefits of expertise that are provided in core facilities and the economies that are becoming apparent. Besides directors, facility staff members have increasing levels of responsibility thrust on them.  Keeping all of the facility personnel up to date can be a role that ABRF plays in the future.  Besides the recognized training required in order to keep up with technologies, education in other areas like sustainability and safety should be promoted within ABRF. Core facilities allow researchers to try experiments that would be exceedingly risky if the research laboratory was responsible for acquiring the instruments and developing the expertise; it is now less risky with the backup of core facility experience. In fact, researchers can try experiments that would have been too risky without research resources being available.

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