An award is made to Saint Louis University to acquire a laser scanning confocal microscope (LSCM) to expand the research and educational capabilities of the basic science departments located on the Frost Campus. The most highly impacted departments include Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, and Biomedical and Civil Engineering. The instrument also services the LSCM needs of the Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at Harris Stowe State University. This instrument has impacts beyond the research laboratory and is used to prepare our future STEM workforce through the training of postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students in fluorescence microscopy, both in research labs and in classrooms. The instrument augments the research experiences of many local high school students, who gain experience with LSCM through various science apprenticeship programs that involve many of our campus researchers. The project also supports an initiative directed at inspiring local middle school students to pursue careers in STEM fields.
The instrument is used in a variety of important research areas, including in studies of cardiac function with varying oxygen availability, the basic mechanisms of neuronal synapse formation, eye development, and of novel materials for growing cells in culture. It is being used to develop unique fluorescent compounds that can be used by many scientists to study basic cellular functions. Other biologists and bioengineers use the instrument to study bacteria in water treatment, and the basic mechanisms of cell signaling, gene expression, and tissue regeneration. The results of these research projects will be disseminated in peer-reviewed publications and at scientific meetings.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.