Science ‘micro’ grant makes for macro advances
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 12:09
The National Science Foundation awarded IUP over half a million dollars for the purchase of a new digital microscope, thanks to the diligence of several professors.
Receipt of the grant, worth $572,359, was confirmed in July after two years of application submission.
Megan Knoch, biology faculty, explained the application required a 15-page description detailing every purpose IUP had for the new equipment.
The description included what research was planned, how the equipment was going to be managed, and where it would be housed.
After that, you just submit it and wait, Knoch said.
Knoch worked with several other professors across several departments on the grant proposal.
These individuals included Jana Villemain, chemistry faculty; Andy Zhou, physics faculty; and Robert Major, Robert Hinrichsen, Cuong Diep and Holly Travis, all biology faculty.
The microscope itself, custom-built by Till Photonics, will arrive late this semester.
IUP will be only one of two universities in the region to have a microscope of this type.
According to Knoch, the microscope is confocal, which means operators will be able to “image through a very thick piece of tissue, and we can recreate a three-dimensional image from that.”
The microscope has a stage where a researcher will place the sample, but rather than looking through an eyepiece, he or she will use 3D imaging to fine-tune the image.
“It’s a pretty heavy-duty microscope in terms of what it’s going to be capable of,” Knoch said.
Measuring about the size of a long desk, it will be housed on the third floor of Weyandt Hall, in a climate-controlled room.
The powerful equipment running the microscope will generate a high amount of heat, so air conditioning is a requirement for the space.
The room is currently being renovated. The grant also includes funding for the dedicated computers and software that will be needed to run the microscope.
One of the first projects the microscope will be used for will be to track cell fate.
Cell fate is the process of how a new cell develops into the final cell type.
Using the microscope to identify stem cells in zebra fish kidneys, every step in the development process can be tracked.