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Frequently Asked Questions

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International Visitors





What types of projects does the AIC accept?
The AIC may accept any life science related proposal, provided there is high potential scientific impact, good justification for using AIC instruments, and the experimental plan is technically feasible. If you are unsure whether a project would be a good fit, contact us at
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Do I need extensive microscopy experience to visit the AIC?
The AIC strives to serve a wide breadth of life science disciplines, including fields where microscopy may not be a primary tool. While some basic imaging experience is desired, users do not need to be microscopy experts. Our AIC applications scientists are here to guide visitors in order to maximize productivity during their visit. Visitors are expected to be fully involved in their own experiments.
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Do I have to share microscope or staff time with other users during my visit?
No! AIC visitors have sole access (24 hours/day, 7 days/week) to the microscope(s) specified in their proposals. In addition, visitors are scheduled such that they have a dedicated AIC applications scientist to help during their entire visit.
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I am not sure which instrument(s) will best suit my experimental needs. Can I get help from the AIC team?
Yes. We are here to help. E-mail us at with some details of your experiment and question. We will usually respond within a day and in many cases, we will even schedule a phone/video session with you.
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What financial costs will the AIC assume for visitors?
The AIC program is designed to cover the costs of instrument time, AIC staff consultations, common lab supplies and equipment (e.g. culture plates, coverslips, pipettes), as well as housing during your visit. Visitors should be prepared to pay for food (all meals available on site), most sample/reagent purchases and shipping, as well as your travel to and from Janelia. Before your arrival, the AIC works with approved visitors on a case-by-case basis to determine which equipment, supplies, and reagents you will be responsible for.
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Can postdoctoral fellows and graduate students apply as “principal investigators”?
Yes. However, the AIC requires that postdocs and graduate students provide a letter of recommendation from their lab head or mentor. The letter should verify that (1) the postdoc/student has the requisite experience to perform the experiments, and (2) the cost of travel, food, as well as materials purchasing and shipping will be covered by the lab head/mentor. Proposals submitted by postdoctoral and student applicants will not be reviewed separately or with different standards than the rest. Lab heads are encouraged to be part of the visiting team.
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Do I need to first establish a collaboration with researchers at Janelia before I can use the AIC instruments?
No. Collaboration with Janelia researchers is not a requirement. Access to the AIC is strictly based on the proposal mechanism.
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How soon after proposal acceptance should I expect to travel to Janelia?
Successful applicants should be prepared to visit Janelia within one to six months following the Scientific Review Date.
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What is the approximate visitation window I can expect to visit Janelia if my proposal is accepted?
AIC visits are typically 2 weeks in duration. Longer visits are possible; however, justification is needed.
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How many personnel does the AIC recommend bringing for each project?
This will depend highly on the particular proposal, but we require at least 2 visitors for each project. This will ensure that both sample preparation, imaging, and data processing can proceed smoothly within the limited time of your visit. We strongly encourage lab heads to participate in AIC visits, even for a few days, regardless of whether or not they are the “principal investigator” of the proposal.
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Can an applicant submit more than one proposal per round?
No. An individual can only submit one proposal per round. However, a lab may submit more than one proposal under different applicants.
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Can we propose to use more than one imaging system in one proposal?
Yes. There are two ways to approach this. If the scientific theme is related but the aims are technically distinct enough to warrant the use of more than one instrument, submit a proposal and request the appropriate instruments. If the scientific themes are distinct enough to support more than one proposal, then submit them as separate proposals under another applicant’s name.
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Can I write a new proposal as a continuation of my previous successful experiment at the AIC?
Yes. For example, if you generated data to support a successful grant application and you would like to return to perform the proposed experiments, you can submit a new proposal. Previous success should add significantly to your Preliminary Data Section.
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Do I need to inform my Office of Sponsored Research?
The AIC program is not a sponsored research program, and there will be no transfer of funds between Institutions; however, if you need to consult your Office of Sponsored Research, please do so.
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International Visitors

Can investigators outside of the United States apply?
Yes. The AIC Call-for-Proposals is open to all scientific investigators from nonprofit organizations anywhere in the world as long as visa approval can be obtained.
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Will I need a visa to visit Janelia?
AIC international visitors should be able to visit Janelia on the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA) or on a B1/B2 visa if during their visit they will only be using the AIC facility and are not planning to perform work in collaboration with a Janelia research group. If you are unsure about visa requirements, contact us at
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I’m from outside the United States and need to ship samples and reagents to Janelia. Can the AIC help with importation requirements?
Yes. Janelia has staff that are familiar with importing chemical and biological materials. The AIC will contact international visitors well in advance (2-6 months) of their visit to help ensure you have the proper documentation and permits, as well as provide recommendations for shipping companies.
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What types of samples can I bring to the AIC?
The AIC provides facilities for maintaining many common biological models, provided they are BSL2 or less. These include cell culture (mammalian, insect, yeast, bacteria), Drosophila, C. elegans, zebrafish, mouse, and rat models. The AIC has accommodated other models including plants and various marine invertebrates, among others. We encourage users to contact the AIC well in advance of submitting a proposal to ensure we can safely and effectively maintain your samples during your visit.
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Will the AIC help prepare and maintain my samples?
AIC staff will typically receive your samples and reagents 1-2 weeks ahead of your visit. Wherever practical, we will start growing/maintaining your samples before your arrival to minimize initial “down time” during your visit. Once on campus, users are responsible for maintenance of their own samples/models. 

The AIC expects that users be familiar with their samples and their proposed preparation protocols. It is not a good idea to wait until you are at the AIC to work on samples you have not previously tested. In some instances, we can provide technical advice for improving sample viability, labeling efficiency, and performance prior to and/or during your visit.
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How do I store and transfer my data?
Users have access to Janelia’s secure network storage during their visit. Before you leave, we will copy your data onto external hard drives (provided by the user) for carrying/shipping back home. The AIC will retain a copy of your data for at least 30 days after you leave, but cannot guarantee storage after that – so be sure to back up your data when you return home!
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Will the AIC help me process and analyze my images?
The AIC will help you process your data so that it can be viewed and analyzed at your home institution. In many cases, AIC applications scientists can help users develop custom software tools or workflows for addressing your specific aims. However due to the nature of the AIC staff’s schedule, it should not be assumed that they will be doing the data analysis for you. Early communication of the need for analysis assistance will help identify possible solutions before the end of your visit.

Note that users have access to Janelia’s state-of-the-art compute cluster during their visit: Visitors are also welcome to take advantage of Janelia’s computational resources to run their own custom processing/analysis software. Contact us for details:
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What is the policy for publishing data acquired at the AIC?
Our only requirement is that users acknowledge the AIC (as well as HHMI and the Moore foundation) anytime your present or publish data acquired at the center. Authorship is wholly at the user's discretion.

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