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Turro Group Standard Operating Procedures

Included in this document are the most important procedures for day-to-day group operations as well as some useful suggestions regarding the presentation of data in a scientific context.

For information on beginning your time in the Turro Group, visit the 'Welcome to the Group' page.

  • There is a Safety manual located in each lab of the 7th floor. Please read this manual carefully. In it you will find the procedures for the proper handling of Chemicals and Hazardous Materials at Columbia. On the current assignment list is the name of the person responsible for the handling of chemicals. There is also a brochure on regulations for the storage of chemicals, acids & gases in the Turro Group library.

  • Every week the New York City Fire Department will come by for an unannounced safety check. Do not be responsible for the shutdown of our labs !

  • Never block doors, walkways, or hallways with solvent bottles, vacuum pumps, or any other type of equipment. . . . . . .

  • Proper Disposal Protocol for Tracking Chemical Inventory:

      Do NOT throw away any chemical bottles in the glass waste, especially those with bar-codes.
    1. The bar-coded empty chemical bottles should go in the yellow bin (by elevator).
    2. Blue sticker labeled chemical bottles go into waste hood for pickup.
    3. Make it a good habit! Update group chemical inventory. Click delete once the chemical is done.
    4. Contact the head of the safety committee if you are unsure of what to do with a chemical.

    It is necessary that all old or used chemicals be disposed in the manner proscribed by law! If you do not know the correct method of disposal for a given chemical, consult the person in charge of the safety committee.

  • What to Do When You Have Used Up a Chemical - If you use up a chemical which is entered in our chemical inventory please remove from the inventory.

  • How to Request a Chemical Waste Pickup - If the waste hood is full, please fill out this form to request a chemical waste pickup.

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We have five different categories of chemicals:

  1. We store the bulk of the non-flammable organic and non-oxidizing chemicals in plastic trays in the chemical stock room 752 in alphabetical order.  Invidual chemicals are also stored throughout the labs. All chemicals can be seached using the online chemical inventory system.

  2. Nonflammable organic materials which must be stored at low temperatures are stored in the refrigerator labeld with "NONFLAMMABLE" in Room 752. All materials in all refrigerators must be clearly labeled in English. Include the structure and the date of synthesis. Unsuitably labeled chemicals will be discarded! Even if you store all of your chemicals in a single box with your name on it, you must still separately and properly label all chemicals within that box.

  3. Organic oxidizers and flammable materials are stored in a refrigerator labeled with "FLAMMABLE" storage cabinet in Room 756.

  4. If you need only 50 mg or so of a chemical but are unable to find it in this group, check with other groups before you order it.  You can use the ChemTracker System to find it.

  5. If you decide that a chemical in our stock is not usable, then follow the proper procedure for disposal of that chemical. Small amounts of chemicals can be combined with the hazardous waste labeled as nonhalogenated organic, halogenated organic or aqueous. Large amount should be disposed of by officers from Office of Environmental, Health and Radiation safety. Do not just place it back where you found it!


  7. Remember, any synthesized chemicals in and out of the fridge will be discarded during the annual MAMOO unless clearly marked with identity and your name.

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Buying Chemicals and Other Supplies

There are three ways of buying chemicals and supplies:

  1. Web-Order (Aldrich, Fluka, Fisher, VWR etc...)

  2. Orders through Business Office (more than $500 or not from: Aldrich, Fluka, Fisher, VWR etc...)

  3. Chemstores (only for emergency, 7% service fee)

  4. Office Supplies

Ask Judy, Ben or Steffen if you have any questions.

  1. Web-Order

    To purchase chemicals, supplies or minor equipment (i.e; GC/HPLC syringes, consumables, filter paper) from an external supplier (Aldrich, Fluka, Fisher, VWR etc...) use the group's online ordering system. This is usually the preferred method.

  2. Orders through Business Office

    To order chemicals, supplies or equipment that is more than $500 or NOT a fast order company (Aldrich, Fluka, Fisher, VWR etc...):

    Get a quotation from the company. Contact the company from which you will be ordering and request pricing, availability, shipping charges and a contact name. If possible, get a hard copy of the quotation.

    1. On the group website, go to the "Group" tab, and click on "Inventories".

    2. Click on the button "Business Office Order Form (updated 01/09)" right beneath "Group Orders"

    3. Download this form.

    4. Enter the company name, address, contact name, telephone and fax number.

    5. Enter the part number, quantity, description and price of any items you wish to purchase. Please include the shipping charge.

    6. Enter Your Name in "Person to Contact:", Account number and Date.

    7. Print the form out.

    8. Get Steffen to sign the printout.

    9. Make a photocopy of the signed Purchase Order Form.

    10. Place one hard copy of the order in Carlos Garcia's mailbox that says "Invoices Only".

    11. Put the other hard copy into the binder located outside of Sandy's office labeled TURRO GROUP ORDERS. Please staple the quotation to the Purchase Order Form if you have one.

    12. Find the lab notebook entitled PURCHASE ORDER COMMAND CENTER next to the TURRO GROUP ORDERS binder. In the notebook, inscribe your name, the date, vendor name, $ amount, account number...

    13. You are responsible for entering the P.O. number in the logbook.

    14. If after a reasonable time (usually 3 days) the order has not been arrived, call Carlos Garcia in the Business Office. Ask for the "P.O. number" and call the vendor.

    15. When the item has been received, note the date in the P.O. Command Center logbook.

    16. If it is an Emergency Order it is your responsibility to follow up on each step to make sure the order was processed by the Business Office and received by the vendor.

    17. If you order from an account which is not handled at the Chemistry Business Office (e.g. Genome Center, Center of Integrated Sciences, ChemE,) ask Steffen for the procedure.

    All orders are subject to Columbia Overhead charges (~ 60%) except orders of "Permanent Equipment" (>$5,000 or >$2,500 for old NSF account) or "Parts for Permanent Equipment". Ask Steffen for details.

    Orders > $2500 require a special procedure.

    • $2,499 - $9,999: 2 written bids, quotations, and/or proposals are required. Oral bids are not accepted.

    • $10,000+: 3 written bids, quotations and/or proposals are required.

    Sole Source Procurement and Justification: All equipment over the amount of $2,499 must be accompanied by a SOLE SOURCE FORM. These forms are available on the group website under the "Group" tab, clicking "Inventories" and right next to the Business Office Order Form. Please fill it out completely. When you are genuinely dealing with a sole source vendor, one additional quote from another vendor is required.

    Business Office Contacts: If you have any questions or problems please call Carlos Garcia at 4-8227; Fax: 212-854-7220

  3. Chemstores (only for emergency, 7% service fee)

    The chemistry department stockroom (also known as Chemstores) is on the first floor of Chandler. The selection is very limited and a service fee of 7% is added. Chemstores should only be used for emergencies. Chemstores is NOT self-serve anymore.

  4. Office Supplies

    Standard office supplies, such as printing paper, paper towels, note books, and pens can not be charged to NSF or NIH grants. Therefore, office supplies can be picked up Chemstores. Ask for assistance at chemstores and use the Pink Form.

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Using the Services of the Glassblower

The glassblower no longer has space in the department. For inquiries, see Steffen or Boss.

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Lab Maintenance Procedure

Lab Maintenance Procedures

If any problems arise concerning electricity, air conditioning units, plumbing or flooding in the labs, fume hood failures, deal with them immediately.

I. Emergencies (all hours):

  1. Fire explosion, medical emergency, hazardous chemical spill
    CALL 99 (Campus Emergency)

  2. Other building emergency like flood, fume hood failures, power failures
    CALL 44899 (Facilities) and then 44200-Jay Kirschenbaum (Chemistry Building services). Then notify Steffen.

II. Regular services (Mon-Fri, 8-4):

EMAIL to fixAD@columbia.edu and a copy to jk20@columbia.edu (Jay Kirschenbaum, building manager)

III. General issues (chemical waste disposal, radiation safety, etc...):

CALL 48749, Office of Environmental, Health and Radiation safety

IV. During Off Hours (Weekends and weekdays after 5PM):

  1. Call Steffen to notify him of the problem. Then if he instructs you to do so:

  2. Call Maintenace directly at 42275 and explain to them the problem.

  3. Get a WORK ORDER #.

  4. Get the name of the Maintenace person who comes to check the problem.

  5. Fill out the blue Maintenace logbook.


  1. A general problem in Chandler are the clogged sinks. Plumbing requests often take a longtime. After e-mailing the plumbing request to Jay, try to get a WORK ORDER # from him as well.

  2. If the requests are not checked after a week, call Jay Kirschenbaum at 44200 or e-mail him (jk20@columbia.edu). Tell him about your request and if you have it, provide him with a WORK ORDER #. Jay is the building supervisor, which means that he is higher on the chain of command. Requests sent to Jay get done very rapidly.

  3. Often Maintenance people will arrive and if they can't get into a room where the repair is to be done, they'll just leave. It's wise to leave a written message on the door telling the Maintenace person where they can find you or someone who will let them in. Do NOT let a maintenance person enter the labs unaccompanied by a member of the group, and without notifying Steffen.

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Chemistry Libraries
  1. The Chemistry Department library was located on the 4th floor of Chandler. The new Science Library will house the Chemistry Library. For Chemistry-related resources, see the Chemistry Library homepage.

  2. The Turro group library is located in Room 754 Chandler.

In the Turro group, the program "Endnote" is used for all applications regarding literature. On the server in the subdirectory /Group/Databases/Turro Group Library/Turro library/ there exists the index of the Turro group library. You will find all books which are property of the Turro group listed there. If you take a book out, bring it back as soon as you don't need it anymore!

Turro Group Related Documents

The following procedures regard maintenance of your notebook and the documentation and presentation of scientific data. The guidelines for successful writing will help you to avoid some unpleasant experiences while publishing papers or giving talks. Please review them carefully and see a group member or Professor Turro if you have any questions.

Labeling of Files (PDF Version)

All files sent to Prof. Turro should have: YourInitials_KeyWord(s)_DraftNumber_Date.doc


JC=Judy Chen
BD=Ben Dach
CG=Cheng Guo
SJ=Steffen Jockusch
JRL=Jeffrey Lancaster
XL=Xuegong Lei
XLi=Xia Li
YL=Yongjun Li
JM=Joseph Moll
AM=Alberto Moscatelli
EJP=Ellane Park
YR=Yi Rao
AS=Arun Sundaresan
NJT=Nicholas J. Turro
OZ=Olaf Zeika
XZ=Xinxin Zhu

Labeling pdfs of the literature (See the group home page for the list of journal abbreviations).


"Ion-Molecule Reactions of Tetramethylethylene Radical Cations in Zeolites,"
Mary V. Barnabas and Alexander D. Trifunac, Chem. Phys. Lett., 1992, 193, 298-304.

Corresponding Label: CPL_193_298_92_ETransZeo.pdf
i.e. journal_volume_firstpagenumber_year_keyword.pdf

Note: Use two digit for the year of the journal. If the journal comes out once a year, the volume number will suffice. In your database to find a pdf you can often just type in underscore page number and underscore to see if you have an article or not.





Individual Research Reviews (IRVs)

Each month or so, each group member meets individually with the Boss to discuss accomplished and proposed research. (Dates are emailed to the group members.)

At IRVs, the basic idea is prioritize your research program in terms of experiments to be performed, papers to be written, equipment to be ordered or repaired, etc. The IRV should be written as an NSF proposal (2-3 pages) and structured as follows:

  1. Motivation: why are you working on your project and why should NSF support it?

  2. What are the questions that you are trying to answer with your research?

  3. How is your research plan going to answer these questions?

  4. What is the context of your research within the context of published research?

  5. What are the most significant results likely to come out of your research?

  6. What are the most significant intellectual problems standing between you and successful results?

  7. What are the most significant technical problems standing between you and successful results?

This format for the IRVs is to be used so you can begin to build a literature database and database of other information that will be useful for this and other reports. The reports in turn will serve as the basis for publications.

Group Research Reviews

Group meetings usually take place on Tuesday mornings. Each group member will present a group research review of accomplished research about every two months or so. Group meeting talks should be less than forty-five minutes in length. If your talk exceeds this length, you are responsible for the lunch of all Turro group members. Talks should be presented using a presentation software (Authorware Professional, Multimedia Director, Powerpoint, etc.). Please follow rules of good public speaking: speak to the audience, not to the board, do not place too much information on a single overhead, etc. The dates of your research reviews are posted with the IRV schedule. It is critical for effective presentation that you put molecular structures and experimental conditions on all of your spectra.

Presentations should be placed on the server at: Server>Group Presentations>Your Folder.

Be sure to properly label your presentation. For Group Research Reviews, the proper format is: your initials_RR_date.

Make sure Prof. Turro gets a print-out of the presentation just before the actual presentation.

Several times a year, we have "Group IRVs", during which proposed research for the next several months is discussed.


Mamoo (Must Appropriately Make Offices Orderly) is the annual Spring Cleaning, during which we update the Turro Group Inventory. Do not even think of dodging your Mamoo responsibilities. The day is miserable for all of us, but is required to keep entropy from taking over.

Log Books

  • When using a group instrument always sign in and out in the appropriate log-books.

  • If a problem is detected it should not only be recorded in the log-book but should also be reported to the person in charge (verbally) so that they can take action.

  • If you use the last of any consumable item ( such as papers, pens, etc.) please report immediately to the person in charge.


  • When making a poster, first consult the guidelines of the conference you plan to attend. Different conferences have different size and formatting constraints.

  • Several poster templates (.ppt) are included below. They are intended to give you an idea of how you might choose to format your poster. Right click a link to download:

  • Change the font, colors, size, format, layout, box size, etc. to suit your design aesthetic.

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Group Instrument Use

1. Get training from the person-in-charge, include running at least one sample under supervision

2. Always discuss the suitability of the samples with the person-in-charge.

3. Log in and Log out. With comments on usage of instrument, sample analysed, time period, condition of instrument

4. The user is expected to be closely watching the status of the instrument while in use

5. Report abnormal instrument conditions immediately to person-in-charge

Contact info will be posted on/near the instrument. This includes name, email and phone number of the person-in-charge. Phone numbers are also available in the Chandler 7th floor hallway.

Extras for Non-Group Members.

1. Get Pemission from Prof. Turro. The person may be asked to sign a contract as an evidence of understanding their responsibilities.

2. Working hours only for non-group members (9am to 5pm)

3. The visitors should prepare their accessories, like syringe for GC injections, if they need the instrument on a frequent basis.

Policy on Funding for Meetings

Click Here

Exiting the Turro Group

Procedures for Exiting the Group

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