Career: Integrated Scanning and Optical Imaging Techniques To Enable Understanding of Live Cell Dynamics-From Molecular Biology
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In this CAREER proposal the PI proposes to develop a uniquely integrated microscopy technology that is broadly applicable across a wide range of molecular dynamic studies in live cells. The technique''s capabilities will be demonstrated by studying the dynamic structure-function relationship of the living cell as it adapts to its local mechanical environment. The objectives of the proposed research and educational plan are to: (1) Develop and demonstrate a state-of-the-art integrated microscope system that combines Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Fast Spinning-Disk (FSD) Confocal Microscopy and Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence (TIRF) into one instrument; (2) Apply the integrated AFM-optical imaging technology to study protein dynamics in the fundamental process of cellular reorganization in response to mechanical force; (3) Implement an educational plan that will: (a) expose high school students, especially girls and underrepresented minorities, to advancements in the biophysical sciences with the aim of enhancing their interest in pursuing careers in science; (b) develop an innovative graduate course module that uses interactive and visual techniques to help life science and engineering students better understand the physics of advanced imaging; and (c) develop a website on AFM theory and its biological applications to serve as an open-source interactive teaching tool. The education plan will introduce basic science concepts of this interdisciplinary field of research and hands on experience to high school students, focusing on girls and minority students, through a new program: Saturday Morning Biophysics: Image Life! The PI will also mentor one graduate and two undergraduate students in this interdisciplinary, cutting-edge research project.