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Teaching Assistant Positions

Position Description: Laboratory Assistant

Job Term: one semester

Minimum Qualifications: successful completion of the chemistry course(s) which are appropriate to your assignment as an assistant, satisfactory evaluations in any previous position as a departmental assistant, and satisfactory progress toward a degree. Preference will be given to chemistry majors, chemistry minors, qualified students who have College Work Study Awards, and students with prior experience as a laboratory assistant.

Potential Benefit to the Student: the position as a lab assistant in the Department of Chemistry of the SUNY College at Brockport offers a variety of experiences that are worth mentioning on a resume as genuine work experiences. These include

  • valuable experience in chemical techniques, instrument use, and reagent preparation
  • additional experience in a laboratory setting (enhancing skills in the assembly, use and maintenance of special laboratory equipment)
  • reinforcement of concepts learned in your courses (enhancing such skills as recording, evaluating and interpreting data)
  • experience as a teaching assistant (enhancing communication skills and problem-solving skills, as well ss those skills associated with teaching, guiding and supervising undergraduate students)
  • general laboratory safety training.

Salary: starting pay is variable depending on the campus minimum and departmental budget. Pay increases will be issued based on your prior experience and your performance as a laboratory assistant in the department. If you have received a College Work Study Award as part of your financial aid package, your biweekly wages will accrue against this award. If you do not qualify for a Work Study Award, you will be paid from the Department of Chemistry Temporary Service budget.

General Responsibilities: you must attend a meeting convened by the laboratory manager at the beginning of the semester. This meeting will be held to provide basic safety instruction, to review the job description for laboratory assistants, and to provide an overview of how the laboratories will be run during the term.

A full, written description of your specific responsibilities during each laboratory session will be provided in a notebook checked-out to you at the beginning of the semester. The notebook will include a copy of the laboratory procedure, as well as a set of laboratory assistant's instructions for each week's laboratory session, and must be returned at the end of the semester.

You should also be aware of the responsibilities which are general to each laboratory session. These include

  1. Preparing in advance for the laboratory period:
    • Read the experimental procedure, the lab assistant's instructions, and any other special information that is provided by the course instructor or laboratory manager.
    • Ask the course instructor, laboratory supervisor, or laboratory manager to answer any questions you may have regarding the procedures, set-ups, calculations, waste management, and/or safety issues before the designated laboratory time.

  2. Assisting students in the performance of their experiments:
    • Answer questions, but try to guide students through the thought process so they may develop answers to their own questions.
    • Check set-ups and coach students through proper techniques as necessary.
    • Demonstrate techniques and tricks that you have learned through your own experience (as long as they are proper and safe!).
    • Circulate around your assigned room, making yourself available to ALL students so each student may ask questions freely (show no favoritism!).

    Laboratory assistants have no direct influence on grades, but do have an ethical responsibility not to show favoritism. If the supervisor or the assistant in question sees potential for a problem in this area, the laboratory assistant's assignment should be changed.

  3. Promoting safety in the laboratory:
    • Be alert for potentially unsafe behavior, practices, set-ups, and situations, and correct them; or bring them to the attention of the laboratory supervisor if you are unsure of the proper procedures to be used.
    • Enforce proper use of safety goggles, proper handling of chemical spills, proper handling of broken glassware, proper collection of chemical waste for disposal, and proper disposal of non-hazardous laboratory waste.

  4. Maintaining the laboratory:
    • clean-up spills by proper methods (if you are unsure of the proper procedures, see your laboratory supervisor).
    • clean the hoods, the areas around balances, and the areas around instruments used during the laboratory period.
    • return and secure all caps and tops to reagent bottles.
    • refill reagent bottles as needed (make sure there are enough reagents for the next lab section - see the notes in the laboratory assistant's instructions for the experiment).
    • replace supplies such as weighing paper, filter paper, boiling chips, cotton, litmus, and acetone, as required.
    • make sure all reagents are returned to where they were at the beginning of the laboratory period (on benches, counters, or hoods, depending on the particular experiment). If you are the assistant for the last laboratory section, you may be asked to return reagents and supplies to a designated place in the laboratory, in a stock room, or in a prep room.
    • wash and put away glassware, as needed, in the prep rooms.

  5. Assisting in the preparation of upcoming laboratory periods:
    • fill reagent bottles and vials.
    • prepare simple reagents.
    • perform simple repairs and/or calibrations of equipment.

The Application Procedure: the Department of Chemistry solicits applications starting in April for Fall Term positions and solicits applications starting in November for Spring Term positions. Obtain an application form from envelopes posted around the department, the department secretary or from the laboratory manager, complete this form after you have arranged your class schedule for the term, and return the completed form to the department secretary or laboratory manager. Applications submitted by mail should be addressed to Ms. Elizabeth Gregory, Laboratory Manager, Department of Chemistry, SUNY College at Brockport, 350 New Campus Drive, Brockport, NY 14420. Applications may also be submitted by emailing the appropriate information (see application) to the laboratory manager at

Accepting a Position: laboratory assisting assignments will be mailed to the prospective employees during the week before classes begin. If you have been assigned to a position, you must complete the following procedure to initialize the appointment:

  1. Report to the laboratory manager to accept or decline the assignment.
  2. Obtain a Student Employee Referral form from the department secretary or the laboratory manager.
  3. Bring your authorization form to the Student Employment Office with a photo ID and proof of U.S. citizenship (birth certificate or social security card). The rest of the authorization will be done electronically.

The laboratory manager will provide you with all materials necessary in your position and will advise you of your starting date. You will also be advised of a time to attend a training session and receive "Right to Know" training in accordance with OSHA regulations.

Statement of Nondiscriminatory Policy: the Department of Chemistry adheres to all Statements of Nondiscriminatory Policies in the Supervisor's Manual, published by the Student Employment Office at of the SUNY College at Brockport.

08/00(rev) - Adopted January 21, 1998