This Major Research Instrumentation award funds the acquisition of a laser-scanning inverted confocal microscope for research and research training in cellular, molecular and developmental biology at the College of William and Mary. A wide range of research and research training initiatives at the college of William & Mary use the new confocal microscope for research on topics that include: stem cell development, sex determination, protein traffic control in cells, plant evolution and development, and DNA repair mechanisms. The new system capabilities allow for imagining of cellular dynamics within tissues at near-real time, and facilitate the utilization of new techniques that enable cutting-edge research and research training. Through research collaborations with faculty and students at regional institutions and other outreach initiatives where confocal microscopy has been an important training tool, the William and Mary Biology Department provides modern research and research training to students who might otherwise not have this opportunity. The results of these research and teaching efforts will be broadly disseminated through abstracts and peer reviewed publications, as well as by active participation of students and faculty at professional meetings.
In the past 3 years, the Nikon A1R laser-scanning confocal microscope funded through NSF-MRI Grant DBI#1039819 has allowed core users from the Wawersik, Allison, Saha and Kerscher labs to make significant progress on the research projects outlined below. The laser-scanning confocal has also enabled training of numerous undergraduate and graduate student researchers. Additionally, the confocal system obtained through this grant has been a featured component of a number of laboratory courses and research demonstrations. Specific research activities that have been conducted on the Departmental confocal include: (a) Analysis of Drosophila testes morphogenesis through live cell imaging (Mohima Sanyal – undergraduate student in Wawersik Lab), (b) TGF-β/BMP regulation of GSC development in Drosophila testes (Ashley Fidler, Emma Rudebusch – undergraduate students in Wawersik Lab), (c) Analysis of thyroid hormone receptor nuclear import and export through live cell imaging and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) (Vinny Roggero – lab manager in Allison Lab, Kelly Subramanian – graduate student, defended thesis in July 2012, Manohara Mavinakere – senior research scientist in Allison Lab until May 2013), (d) Analysis of calcium activity during early neural development and its effect on neuronal fate specification (Wendy Herbst, Caitlin Paisley, Lindsay Schleifer – undergraduate students in Saha lab)(e) Analysis of gene expression co-localization patterns following Notch signaling and cell cycle perturbation (Tejas Aralere, Brian Rabe, Molly McDonough – undergraduate students in Saha lab), (f) Investigation of Septin Ring Anomalies in Budding Yeast (Chris Moad – undergraduate student in Kerscher Lab) Teaching activities that have been conducted with the new system include: (a) analysis of data from an undergraduate lab by confocal microscopy (Bio 443, Molecular Genetics Lab; taught by V. Roggero and L. Allison – Fall 2011, 21 students; Fall 2012, 28 students), (b) two-part summer lecture and demonstration series on "Light Microscopy" presented to undergraduate research students, graduate students, and a broad group of faculty working at W&M this summer (taught by M. Wawersik -- 35 students), (c) a graduate class workshop on confocal microscopy (Bio 646, Nuclear Structure & Gene Activity; taught by V. Roggero and L. Allison -- 4 students), (d) demonstration of uses for confocal microscopy in biological research given to Virginia State Delegate Michael Watson (R) (presented by M. Wawersik, M. Saha & E. Bradley), (e) undergraduate class demonstration on confocal microscopy (Bio 419, Plant Development & Physiology taught by E. Engstrom; 4 students), and (f) training of undergraduate and graduate research students on how to use the laser-scanning confocal system for their research (18 undergraduate and 1 graduate students). Additional students who are working in collaboration with trained users are also gaining exposure to use of confocal microscopy systems.