The primary objective of the Central Laboratory is to provide chemical analyses in support of GIGR research. In addition, the unit addresses limited requests from animal producers and other departments within the research and extension division or collaborators with the USDA or Oklahoma State University. The unit conducts standardized analyses for GIGR research staff. In addition, personnel, laboratory space, and technical expertise are available for nonstandard analyses as required. The goal of the unit is to provide highly accurate, reproducible analyses in a reasonable amount of time, and to coordinate with the research staff to upgrade and expand analytical capabilities as needed.
A committee consisting of Kesete Tesfai (Laboratory Operations Unit Manager), Ping Lee (Research Associate), Glenn Detweiler (Research Associate), Ryszard Puchala (Assistant Research Professor), and Tilahun Sahlu (Director and committee chairman) provides guidance to the unit. The committee is responsible for decisions concerning capital equipment purchases and analytical methods used. All personnel attend a safety course before working in the laboratory. The staff is encouraged to take part in appropriate continuing education programs. Equipment is maintained as recommended by manufacturers, and the quality control program includes intra- and interlaboratory testing reference standards.
Existing equipment of the Laboratory Operations Unit includes: spectrophotometer (HP 8452A); Beckman DU 640 AutoAnalyzer II, continuous flow colorimeter; Hewlett-Packard 5880A and HP6890 gas chromatographs; Parr adiabatic bomb calorimeter; Beckman Spectraspan V DC plasma spectrophotometer (minerals); HP 1090 dedicated amino acid analyzer with a CEM microwave digestion system for sample hydrolysis; ANKOM 200 fiber analyzer with a capacity of 24 samples/unit, in addition to the conventional Van Soest system; Wiley mill; muffle furnace; freeze dryer; ovens; pH meters; computers; and a high speed centrifuge. The unit also entails specialized laboratories: (1) radioisotopes - equipped with gamma and beta counters, automatic pipetting systems, water bath, and refrigerator; (2) stable isotopes - equipped with ANCA gas isotope ratio mass spectrometer, ABCA breath analyzer, solid sample combuster, micro-balance, and backup power supply; (3) animal fiber (state of the art) - equipped with independent room temperature and humidity controls, projection microscope, mini-corer, microtome, drying ovens, fiber washing apparatus, and Optical fiber Diameter Analyser (capability of measuring fiber diameter and estimating cashmere yield; currently being modified to determine medulated fibers, formerly determined via projection microscopy); (4) histology (established to enhance the understanding of mechanisms of fiber growth and changes taking place before and during emergence of primary and secondary fiber follicles) - equipped with automatic tissue processor, rotary microtome, Shandon Histocentre tissue embedding system, floating bath, serial staining apparatus, and microscope.