New high-tech microscope creates new research opportunities

Dr. Elizabeth Glogowski, assistant professor of materials science and lead faculty member on the grant proposal.The acquisition of a new high-tech microscope with fast-scanning 3-D imaging capabilities is opening new and advanced avenues of research for students studying in the sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

The new confocal laser scanning microscope acquired by the Materials Science Center will further faculty-student collaborative research experiences and expand multidisciplinary research projects in the materials science, chemistry and biology departments.

Dr. Jamie Lyman Gingerich, assistant professor of biology and co-author of the grant proposal. Adding the CLSM to the already extensive list of equipment and instrumentation used in the Materials Science Center was possible because of a $460,000 grant from the National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation.  Dr. Elizabeth Glogowski, assistant professor of materials science, co-wrote the grant proposal with Dr. Derek Gingerich, associate professor of biology, Dr. Jamie Lyman Gingerich, assistant professor of biology, and Dr. Matt Jewell,  assistant professor in materials science.

"The acquisition of the CLSM enables multiple faculty and students in the sciences to conduct forefront research that is more challenging and stimulating than is possible with our current technology," Glogowski said. "This instrument will significantly expand the fluorescence imaging capabilities of the university and will introduce a fast-scanning 3-D imaging capability that is absent from our existing instruments. Adding the CLSM enhances the research experiences and research training of undergraduate students and prepares them for graduate school and careers in the sciences."

The versatility of the CLSM system will allow UW-Eau Claire to meet existing research needs and to adapt to future needs, Glogowski said, noting that it also will increase the productivity of current faculty and serve as a significant recruiting tool for attracting high-quality researchers in the future.

The key feature of the CLSM is its ability to produce high-resolution images of thick specimens at various depths in 3-D. Images are taken point-by-point and reconstructed with a computer, rather than projected through an eyepiece.

As the UW System Center of Excellence for Faculty and Undergraduate Student Research Collaboration, UW-Eau Claire has had a strong history in providing undergraduates with high-impact educational experiences through student research, Glogowski said.

"This instrument will be used to expand student access to even greater research opportunities," Glogowski said. "The CLSM will be integral to supporting undergraduate research in ongoing and future programs, and it will be used in teaching upper-level undergraduate lab courses, giving our students experiences not available at most undergraduate universities. It also will enhance out outreach efforts to connect the community and K-12 students with scientific principles and research. And it will support local industries that use the Materials Science Center's research instrumentation in their research and development efforts."

The CLSM will be available to faculty and students across the sciences who plan to use it for research and teaching, Lyman Gingerich said.

"This is a great opportunity for biology majors to gain experience with state-of-the-art equipment," Lyman Gingerich said. "The CLSM's enhanced 3-D imaging of biological structures will help students better understand fundamental processes in biology. This is a commonly used piece of equipment in modern cell and molecular research, so having hands-on experience with this advanced technology will benefit students who are going on to careers in research."

Students and faculty will begin using the CLSM this summer . For more information about the confocal laser scanning microscope, contact Dr. Liz Glogowski at 715-836-3445 or glogowem@uwec.edu.