FAQs for equipment applicants

Application process

Please complete and submit the form on our Application page.

We do not accept applications in any other format. Please do not email proposals or equipment requests to us; they will not be reviewed.

You can expect to hear if your application has been selected to advance to the interview round by about 1 month after the nearest application deadline at the time you submit. All applicants will be notified of their status at that time.

If you are invited to move to the interview stage, we will provide additional information about decision timing.

Program fees & other costs

No, absolutely not. There is no monetary cost associated with the application process.

We ask only that applicants are ready and willing to pay the program fee if selected to participate in the program.

Unfortunately, no. The program fee is mandatory and covers a significant portion of our operating costs. We rely on these funds as a part of our annual budget and would not be able to keep the program running without them. We do not have additional funds available to subsidize these costs or additional resources to help you raise funds.

Our policies don’t prohibit this, but the timing of the program cycle makes it very difficult to meet the requirements of most external funders.

Specifically, we cannot provide a letter of support promising to work with you until you have been accepted to the program, and we can’t accept you into the program without a commitment to pay the fee. 

In addition, many external funders will want to know the contents of your shipment before they commit to paying for it. This is reasonable on their part but impossible on ours, as we won’t know the contents of your shipment  until you have completed equipment selection.

If you do intend to try to raise funds externally, please contact us at application@seedinglabs.org to discuss your plans before taking any public action that directly involves Seeding Labs, such as crowdfunding using our name or logo.

We invoice for the program fee when you begin selecting equipment. Payment is due at the end of the selection period, just prior to shipment.

So, yes, the contents of the shipment will be known before payment is due. If you are not satisfied at that point with the value of the shipment, you will have the right to cancel our agreement.

However, please note that the interval of time between when shipment contents are finalized and when payment is due will not be long enough to navigate a protracted approval or application process. If the contents of your shipment must be known before the money for the program fee can be allocated, Instrumental Access is probably not a good fit for your institution.

We can’t say for sure, as every country has its own customs and import regulations.

Many countries do offer waivers from customs duties that apply to Instrumental Access shipments, generally because they are donations intended for educational and/or research purposes. If this type of waiver is available in your country, we will work with you to provide the documentation you need to apply for it.

We recommend that you check with your institution’s procurement office or other experts in your country for more specific advice about the regulations that may apply to your situation.

Equipment and logistics

It depends on the item. We pass on to you anything that the donor provides to us, including accessories, software, spare parts, etc.

However, it isn’t always possible for donors to include everything necessary for use in the donation.

In particular, software is often difficult for our donors to transfer, either because the licenses are non-transferrable or for information security reasons or both. New software licenses can be very costly to purchase from manufacturers.

We realize that this is not ideal, but the only other option available to us would be to refuse these donations entirely. 

The details about what is and isn’t available with each item will be available to you during equipment selection so that you can take these issues into consideration as you make your selections.

Yes. The total amount of equipment that each awardee can select is limited by two constraints:

  1. Volume. All of the items you select must fit into a 20-foot shipping container; and
  2. Points. We assign a “points” value to each item in our inventory based on our typical supply and demand, as well as its monetary value. For example, a case of consumables or glassware, might be valued at 5-10 points, while an HPLC system might be 500. Each awardee gets the same allocation of points to shop with. The purpose of this system is to ensure equal access and avoid excessive depletion of our inventory.

No, we cannot provide a list of our available inventory until the selection window opens.

This is because our inventory changes frequently as equipment donations are received and shipments to other awardees are fulfilled. What we have in the warehouse currently is not what will be available next week or next month, nor is it necessarily representative of what is “usually” available.

We always have a wide variety of equipment, glassware, and consumables in stock, but the exact composition is always changing.

It depends. If the donor provides us with a paper copy of the manual, we’ll include it in the shipment.

Once we know the contents of your shipment, we will also search for and compile electronic copies or links to the relevant manuals for the items in your shipment if available.

We carry insurance against any loss or damage that may occur during the shipping process. This type of damage should be reported within 10 days of receipt of the shipment so that we can file a claim with our insurance provider.

Yes, you can participate, although you may need to budget for some additional freight costs.

If selected, we would work with you to identify the best shipping option for your specific location. If there’s a cost difference between that option and what it would have cost us to ship to the nearest ocean port, we’ll ask you to pay the difference.

Possibly. We’ll do our best to accommodate your needs and preferences, with the understanding that you will be responsible for any costs in excess of the best rates that our freight forwarders can provide.

If you choose to arrange and pay for your own international freight, we can offer a small discount to the program fee.

Please note that the weight and volume of a typical shipment makes air freight extremely expensive.

Possibly. If you are accepted to the program, we may be able to accept these items as a donation to Seeding Labs and then include them in your shipment. However, there are some legal and practical constraints on what types of donations we can accept, so we’ll need to discuss the details of your particular situation before we can say for sure.

Yes, this can typically be arranged with our warehouse as long as we have sufficient notice.

No, we don’t currently have the capacity to offer training or technical assistance within the Instrumental Access program. Awardees are solely responsible for equipment set-up, calibration, service, maintenance, and repair.

For videos of lab tips and tricks that may be of interest, please see our TeleScience platform.

Eligibility

Our list of eligible countries is based primarily on the current World Bank income classifications. Almost all countries that are classified as low- and middle-income are eligible for Instrumental Access.

In addition, we’ve extended eligibility to a small group of countries that have recently been classified as high-income but remain eligible for World Bank lending.

A small number of low- or middle-income countries are excluded from eligibility for legal reasons. Please see the next question for more details.

One of our core beliefs at Seeding Labs is that everyone should have access to the tools of modern science.

However, as a US-based NGO, we are bound by US export law, which places a few limits on where we are allowed to operate. Specifically, current sanctions prohibit us from shipping to the following countries:

  • Burma
  • Cuba
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • North Korea
  • Russian Federation
  • Syria
  • Venezuela

We review the list of excluded countries annually, and our goal is always to move towards greater inclusiveness if at all possible.

No. Seeding Labs recognizes that valid needs for equipment may exist in other places, but Instrumental Access operates in eligible countries only.

No. Eligibility is limited to degree-granting institutions of higher education and public research institutes only. Academic departments at university-affiliated teaching hospitals may be eligible, but clinical units are not.

Yes. You may apply again as long as your institution remains eligible under the current guidelines and you have sufficient additional need.

If the same department is applying for a second shipment, your application should include a clear explanation of your rationale for re-applying.

No. Individuals, lab groups, and research projects are not eligible to apply on their own.

An application can only be submitted by and on behalf of an eligible subdivision (usually an academic department), and it must be clear that the benefits would extend beyond a single individual, research group, or project.

Probably not. For efficiency, we ship full containers rather than individual items.

Also, the more specific your needs are, the less likely it is that we’ll have on hand exactly what you’re looking for when it’s your turn to select.

Instrumental Access is the best fit for institutions with diverse needs in the disciplines we support (biology, chemistry, and closely allied fields) who can make use of what we can supply: a shipping container full of equipment and supplies.

Other application questions?

Paul Hohenberger

Paul Hohenberger

Director of Individual Giving

Paul is responsible for individual outreach to increase philanthropic support for Seeding Labs. He is an experienced fundraising professional with broad knowledge and understanding of resource development and advancement in major research universities and public trusts. 

In previous roles at The University of Massachusetts, MIT, Harvard University, and the Pew Charitable Trusts, Paul cultivated relationships within the philanthropic community, garnering support for programs and priorities spanning nuclear engineering, global health, climate science/energy, and demographic and survey research.

Paul’s educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is active in his alma mater, serving on the Department of Political Science Advisory Board, and was a former board member of the UMass Alumni Association. 

Additionally, he has completed professional certificate programs at the T.H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health and MIT, enhancing his expertise in policy, politics, and innovation.

Alyssa Tran headshot

Alyssa Tran
Logistics Intern

Alyssa Tran started working for Seeding Labs in Summer 2024 in the Instrumental Access Program. She is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Biology at Clark University (Class of 2026).

Being a Biology major has allowed her to develop skills within research labs and understand various types of laboratory equipment, which gives support to the program.

Jennifer Raymond

Jennifer Raymond
Director of Corporate Relations

Jennifer builds and stewards Seeding Labs’ partnerships with corporations and other life science institutions. Our partners’ financial and lab equipment contributions help support universities and research institutions in under-resourced settings.


When these talented scientists, researchers, and educators have the resources they need to create and maintain strong scientific institutions, new solutions are created for both local development needs and global challenges.


Before joining Seeding Labs, Jennifer raised funds and engaged constituents for

the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Brandeis University. She graduated from Wellesley College with a BA in French studies.

Manisha Patel

Manisha Patel
Scientific Director

Manisha uses her scientific expertise to implement the equipment-related aspects of Seeding Labs’ programs and plays a key role in Instrumental Access.

She provides support to Instrumental Access awardees, helping them choose the instruments that best meet their research and teaching goals. She also advises the Corporate Relations team on equipment that would be useful in our awardees’ labs.

Manisha has extensive experience in managing academic research labs with knowledge spanning lab setup, compliance, and equipment training. Most recently, she oversaw labs at Harvard University.

For the past decade, Manisha directed an undergraduate internship program focused on one of her passions:  diversity and inclusion in STEM. She holds a BS in ecology from Rutgers University and an MS in ecology from the University of Vermont.

Micaela Leaska

Micalea Leaska
Programs Specialist,
Metrics & Evaluation

Micalea works with the Programs team to develop and implement metrics and evaluation tools, and to monitor the worldwide impact of Instrumental Access. She compiles and analyzes quantitative data and qualitative stories that exemplify our mantra, “talent is everywhere.”

Her prior work experience includes consulting for the World Bank, working on Water Security Assessments for Peru and Central America, and improving access to safe water in rural Ecuadorian communities with the nonprofit WaterStep.

Micalea holds a BA from Saint Michael’s College and completed her Master’s degree in Climate Change and Global Sustainability from SIT Graduate Institute, where she studied global science issues alongside scientists, stakeholders, and community members in Iceland, Tanzania, and Ecuador.

Chiudo Ehirim

Chiudo Ehirim
Instrumental Access
Consultant

After completing an Atlas Corps Fellowship with Seeding Labs, Chiudo now provides support to our Instrumental Access partners from his Rumines Ltd. office in Lagos, Nigeria. Chiudo is CEO of Rumines, an environmental technology and management consulting company.

Prior to his fellowship, Chiudo was a country manager for Nigeria with Climate Scorecard, a US-based organization that monitors how the top 25 greenhouse gas-emitting countries implement the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Chiudo earned a BS in pure and industrial chemistry from the University of Nigeria and a Master’s of Science in environmental technology and management from the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria.

David Borman

David Borman, PhD
Communications
Director

David works to highlight the innovation and scientific successes of Instrumental Access awardees. In telling these scientists’ stories, he helps to show the global impact of the Seeding Labs mission.

Prior to joining Seeding Labs, David worked as the alumni affairs director for Brevard College in North Carolina and managed communications for Kids Center for Pediatric Therapies, a nonprofit in Louisville, Kentucky, that provides services to children with special needs.

David earned his PhD in English from the University of Miami. He holds an MA in English from the University of Louisville and a BA in English from Bellarmine University.

Christine Srivastava

Christina Viola Srivastava

Vice President of Programs

Christina is responsible for program development, planning, and implementation at Seeding Labs. 

Christina has experience as a research program evaluator and science policy analyst. She’s held roles with the consulting firm Abt Associates, Inc. and the Science and Technology Policy Institute.

Prior to entering the consulting world, Christina worked for the Boston-area nonprofits Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics and Urban Ecology Institute. She holds an undergraduate degree in biology from Swarthmore College

Rick Sherman

Rick Sherman

Vice President of Philanthropy

Rick is responsible for the fundraising activities at Seeding Labs, engaging with corporations, foundations, and individuals to increase their financial and equipment donations to the organization.

Prior to joining Seeding Labs, Rick spent 17 years working in a similar capacity at a number of science-focused organizations, including Keystone Symposia, the Carnegie Institution for Science, and the Chemical Heritage Foundation (now the Science History Institute).

Rick earned an MS in Finance from Drexel University, and a BS in Paper Science and Engineering from State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

David Qualter

Vice President of Operations

David is responsible for global logistics at Seeding Labs, overseeing the efficient movement of lab equipment worldwide.

He joined Seeding Labs from Image Arts, a subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, where he provided logistics direction for the company with $110 million in annual sales.

He brings 20 years of supply chain management experience with in-depth knowledge of international logistics, warehouse execution, and distribution center operations.

Originally an art student at Southeastern Massachusetts University, David now uses his creative talents to develop logistics strategies that produce operational efficiencies and quality customer service.

Melissa P. Wu, PhD

Melissa P. Wu, PhD

Chief Executive Officer

Please direct speaking requests to media@seedinglabs.org


As the CEO of Seeding Labs, Dr. Melissa P. Wu connects scientists and institutions around the world to help reduce barriers to scientific discovery.

Part scientist, part engineer, and part facilitator, Melissa brings strategic insight and rigorous methodology to her work, together with a dedication to helping people.


Melissa is driven by two overarching values: that scientific research is a critical tool for improving human lives, and that research thrives and we as a community make the best discoveries when we foster diversity in perspectives, approaches, and ideas. Joining these two ideas has given her a career focus on creating opportunities for people of all backgrounds to engage in scientific research.


Prior to being named CEO of Seeding Labs in 2019,
Melissa served as Senior Vice President of Operations. She revamped Seeding Labs’ Instrumental Access program to increase its efficiency while expanding its impact.


Melissa’s previous positions at the Harvard Office for
Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership and the BioBuilder Educational Foundation helped spread scientific knowledge to students nationwide.

She is proud to have mentored many students through
programs at the Journal of Emerging Investigators, Harvard, Boston Children’s Hospital, and MIT.

Melissa earned a PhD in Cellular and Developmental
Biology from Harvard University and holds an SB in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.