Redefining the Classroom


Established in 2002, the Lake Superior State University Environmental Analysis Laboratory (EAL) was created to meet the analysis and research needs of Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula. As the regions only full service environmental lab the EAL offers a wide range of analytical services to its clients including sample collection, inorganic and organic analysis in a variety of matrices, as well as genetic, microscopy & microanalysis, project design, and project implementation consultation.

Under the direction of LSSU faculty and staff the EAL offers undergraduate students internship opportunities within the lab.  Student Interns are involved in all aspects of laboratory operation, affording them real hands on experience with not only the analytical side of a laboratory but also business side including data reporting and direct client interaction.  The goal of these internships is to provide our students with a skill set allowing them to make a seamless transition to the workforce or graduate school.  To date the EAL has employed nearly sixty students, all of which have moved on to become successful professionals. 

Since its inception the EAL has matured into a fully-functioning analytical laboratory that allows students to gain hands on experience working on real projects with experienced faculty and staff.   The combination of analytical services and practical education makes the LSSU EAL unique and allows the university to better serve its students and foster strong collaborations with both public and private sector partners.

Data Quality Objectives

The EAL’s organizational structure and Quality Assurance program is designed to effectively and efficiently accomplish established data quality objectives for all of its analytical services. The quality of measurements made by the laboratory is determined by the following data quality objectives or characteristics: representativeness, accuracy, precision,

Specific objectives for each characteristic are generally established to assist in the selection of appropriate sampling and analytical protocols and to identify applicable documentation, sample handling procedures, and measurement system procedures. These quality objectives are established based on collection site conditions, specific requirements of the project, knowledge of available analytical systems, and are addressed whenever appropriate for the data generated.

Quality Assurance Policy

The goal of the EAL is to use the concept of complete quality management to produce analytical results of known, documented, and acceptable quality. The validity of data resulting from day-to-day analysis depends on a strong, effective, and consistently practiced quality assurance program. The EAL’s Quality Assurance Manual (QAM) outlines that program for all aspects of laboratory chemical and microbiological testing operation.  The EAL’s objectives for precision, accuracy, and detectability of analytical results, and the associated quality control measures are described.

The EAL quality assurance program is designed to be dynamic in nature. It currently encompasses activities for traditional wet chemical analysis techniques, classical and state-of-the-art instrumental analysis methods, and field measurements using portable analysis equipment. The program is designed to facilitate the fulfillment of both the EAL’s and the client’s goals for its analytical products. It also satisfies appropriate university, local, state, and federal regulatory requirements. The QAM is updated at a minimum annually, based on the results of quality assurance monitoring of analytical processes, internal and external assessments, and evolving regulatory policies.

EAL Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all analytical services, which contain specific details of laboratory and method quality assurance practices, are maintained in a separate manual. SOPs are updated as required and reviewed annually.

The Laboratory Manager of EAL assumes responsibility for ensuring that all laboratory staff understand laboratory quality assurance/quality control practices any revisions and implement them immediately. As part of his or her initial orientation, each laboratory staff/student member is required to read the QAM. The employee is required to document, through their signature, that they have read and fully understand the scope of this document. Signed statements to this effect are placed in the employee’s quality assurance training file. Employees are expected to practice policies outlined in these documents as a matter of habit.

The EAL is committed to performing work ethically and following the highest standard of honesty and integrity. This is dependent on a environment free of financial, commercial, and other pressures that can adversely affect the quality of analyzes. EAL quality control systems are in place to identify analytical quality deficiencies. Each staff member is required to implement the guidelines of the QAM and implement corrective action where quality deficiencies are observed. The Laboratory Manager maintains the authority to stop work for any deficiencies of quality from any source.