Freezer Protocol

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Updated 3 March 2015


The BARC walk-in freezers (Rooms 137, 139, and 141, or freezers #1, 2, and 3 respectively) are a resource shared among several different user groups.  CH2M Hill Polar Services (CPS) leases 2/3 of the space on behalf of the National Science Foundation and the North Slope Department of Wildlife Management (NSB DWM) leases the remaining 1/3.  Per agreement CPS manages freezers 1 and 3 while NSB DWM occupies freezer 2.  In addition, CPS manages a -80°C freezer in BARC Room 135.  Non-NSF funded research projects may use the freezers on a space-available basis.  CPS and NSB DWM jointly manage the freezers via frequent communication.

Day-to-day and year-round management of CPS freezers is provided by CPS partner UIC Science represented by the Chief Scientist (Karl Newyear) and Laboratory Manager (Stephanie Gaff).

Due to space and compatibility constraints freezers 1, 3, and the -80°C are generally considered as short-term storage spaces unless by prior notification to and approval by CPS.

CPS checks the freezers for proper temperature and general cleanliness during regular Lab Rounds as well as weekly inspections.  Temperature loggers are available if researchers wish to continuously monitor conditions in the freezers.



Interior dimensions of the walk-in freezers are approximately 8 feet wide by 14 feet deep.  Height ranges between approximately 6 feet 6 inches to 8 feet 6 inches due to ceiling-mounted heat exchanger and blower units and drop ceilings.  All freezers have shelving available to reduce the footprint of stored items.

Interior dimensions of the -80°C freezer are 86 cm wide by 61 cm deep by 127 cm tall.  This can be subdivided by shelves as needed.


Temperature Settings

These freezers are normally maintained at the following temperatures, consistent with the placards posted outside each door:

Freezer 1: +4°C

Freezer 2: -20°C

Freezer 3: -40°C

Occasionally it may be necessary to change the temperature setting on one or more freezers to accommodate a specific scientific need such as a project conducting incubations at ambient seawater temperature (-2°C to +5°C) or for cleaning.  At these times:

– CPS will inform other freezer users of the proposed temperature change including dates.

– CPS will assist users to identify temporary storage space for materials at the proper temperature.

– CPS will assist users in moving materials to temporary storage.


Sample Storage

To help ensure sample integrity and accountability:

– All items placed into freezers 1, 3, and the -80°C must be labeled with the project name and contact information. 

– Labels/markings should be on all 4 sides and the top of each container if possible so that information is easily visible when items are stacked or placed on shelves.

– Researchers must notify CPS in person about items placed into the freezers and identify them to CPS staff.  If CPS staff are not available (i.e. after hours or on weekends) researchers must send an email notifying them of freezer contents and how long they’re expected to remain there.

– Researchers must provide a description of their samples, contact information, and expected duration of storage for their items on the Freezer Log posted outside each freezer.

– Researchers should specify if there are any special handling or precautions to observe if samples need to be moved or relocated.

– CPS may assign a certain space or allowed storage duration to a project based on current and expected storage needs.

– It is recommended to pre-cool items in the -40°C walk-in prior to placement in the -80°C freezer if possible.  Placing relatively warm items (e.g. at natural ambient temperature) directly into the -80°C freezer will warm the interior and jeopardize other samples.


Overflow Storage

Occasionally a group may need extra space in another freezer on a temporary basis.  When this is required:

– The requesting group will notify CPS of the type and quantity of samples to be stored and the duration.

– CPS will verify with current freezer users whether this would pose any problems (space limitation, incompatibility).

– If no conflicts are identified, CPS will inform all freezer users of the temporary storage.

– Overflow samples will be labeled with the project name, contact information, and expected removal date prior to being moved.


Contact Information

Stephanie Gaff

UIC Science Laboratory Manager


BARC office 109