Today we conclude our “10 Questions with…” interview of Michelle Taylor, Editor-in-Chief of Laboratory Equipment magazine.
Click here to read the first installment of this conversation.
6. As internet and social media use grow in our industry, have manufacturers expanded their communications to provide technical data and guidance on the proper use of key laboratory equipment in these channels?
My experience has been that manufacturers have capitalized on social media channels, but not necessarily to provide technical data. I think most people see social media as an “outlet,” meaning they are anticipating/expecting less technical, more “fun” information. Most manufacturers use social media as a means to converse with their existing and potential customers, using interesting, meaningful information and data to suck them in. Once you get the customer on your site, that’s when you hit them with the technical data and guidance. Not everyone wants that kind of information filling up their leisure time, so I think it’s best to entice them first, and then let them find what they are looking for from there.
7. Do you see the remote control of laboratory equipment as a growing trend?
Yes times 100. The remote control of everything is a trend, and it’s amplified in the laboratory. It’s one of the rare times science is ahead of the consumer world in terms of trends. Remote control of laboratory equipment is so important that it’s hard to know where to start. I conduct reader surveys every month and in the past four or five years, ease-of-use is the capability our readers have expressed the most interest in. And there’s nothing easier than using a remote to control your lab equipment from a distance. It saves time and money, increases productivity and makes researchers happy- what’s not to love? More importantly though, remote control increases lab safety and aids energy efficiency. Having the ability to control a pump or other piece of equipment inside a fume hood without opening the sash will prove vital in future research endeavors.
8. With the growth of Green Initiatives, do you see more laboratory equipment shifting to less hazardous materials of construction with more sophisticated monitoring and control features?
Yes, but I would downplay the green initiatives part- in a way at least. A few years ago when green was a buzzword, the industry started changing in an effort to accommodate this shift. So we did see a rise in less hazardous materials, better monitoring, smarter construction, etc. Since then though, green has become less of a buzzword and more like something we just accept in society. I think companies are shifting to more energy-efficient and eco-friendly options now not because it’s the “cool new thing,” but because it is what is expected- like stopping at a red light. Green initiatives are not so much initiatives anymore as they are just a part of how we conduct business in the real world. So, yes to smarter, better, more eco-friendly options, but no to green initiatives as a directive.
9. What do you think is the biggest pain-point for lab teams across the globe? How do they address this?
I addressed this briefly in question 7, but I’d say ease-of-use. Researchers everywhere are demanding easier-to-use instrumentation and software. There’s a shortage of experienced personnel, and labs everywhere are feeling that constrain. Therefore, instrumentation and software must be easier to use so novice users can handle the demands, while experienced researchers turn their attention toward more revenue-generating opportunities and research. Manufacturers are already addressing this with simple, familiar, consumer-driven interfaces for software, as well as advanced platforms that guide and help researchers. They are also investing in ways to simplify complex instrumentation, like spectrometers and chromatographs. Two years ago, for example, Waters debuted their QDa detector, which brings push-button mass spec to chromatography applications. I think we will begin to see a lot of more of this.
10. Finally, to end our conversation on a light note, please tell our readers what your favorite city across the globe is.
Hm, this is a hard one. Can I pick two? Actually, I don’t care, I have to pick two. Assisi (Italy) and Galway (Ireland) are my favorites. Climbing the hill to get up to Assisi is unreal. I thought I was going to pass out. But it is all worth it when you get to the top. The view is breathtaking, especially at sunset or during a storm.
In reference to Galway, I swear the greens and blues in Ireland are different than in the U.S. Nature is just better there—the grass is greener, the sky is bluer and the contrast is prettier. Plus, there are lambs everywhere- and lambs are too cute.