First Place: Mitochondrial organization of an adipocyte
Kyle P. Quinn, Postdoctoral Fellow, Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering
Irene Georgakoudi, Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is an endogenous coenzyme that serves as an electron carrier to facilitate cellular metabolic activity. During cellular respiration, when nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide gains two electrons (and a proton) to become NADH, it also becomes autofluorescent. Through two-photon excited fluorescence (TPEF) microscopy, a titanium:sapphire laser tuned to a 755nm wavelength will efficiently excite NADH molecules and 460nm light will be emitted primarily from NADH bound to the cell’s mitochondria. Here, using a high-magnification objective (63x; 1.2 numerical aperature), the mitochondrial network of a mature adipocyte can be resolved within an 80 x 40 µm field of view. Because NADH is naturally present in all cells, no stains or fluorescent dyes are needed to acquire these images. In this image, NADH fluorescence intensity is false-colored to span from blue (low) to red (high). An absence of mitochondrial NADH fluorescence can be seen within large circles in the cell where lipid droplets have been synthesized and stored. By assessing the spatial organization of the mitochondrial networks and relative changes in NADH intensity, these TPEF images are used to non-destructively assess cell differentiation status and metabolic activity within in vitro cell cultures. As a result, these methods offer a powerful tool to optimize cell culture protocols and monitor engineered tissue constructs.
Second Place: A Craggy Seaside Pasture
Emily A. Lewis, PhD. Candidate, Chemistry, School of Arts and Sciences
E. Charles H. Sykes, Associate Professor, Chemistry
Fischer-Tropsch synthesis is a process that can be used to create synthetic, sustainable fuels. The reaction is catalyzed by cobalt nanoparticles, which we have begun to study with Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM), a technique capable of imaging single molecules and atoms. This image is a 3D rendering of an STM image of cobalt nanoparticles on a copper support. The cobalt nanoparticles, which appear as mountains and islands in the image, are jagged as they are covered with the two Fischer-Tropsch reactants, carbon monoxide and hydrogen. By studying the interaction of these molecules with STM we can obtain information on the mechanism of the reaction, allowing for the design of more efficient catalysts that can make these fuels economically feasible. The surrounding support for the nanoparticles is saturated only with carbon monoxide, resulting in an ordered structure that gives the appearance of farm pastures on the land and waves in the water. The image exemplifies the environmental significance of the research at hand, as it will help to preserve beauty of the natural world mimicked with this image.
Third Place: The Electric Faces of Frog Embryos
Dany Adams, Research Associate Professor, Biology, School of Arts and Sciences
These are views of the developing face of a frog embryo. At this stage, while the face is beginning to take shape, the cells at the surface have varying electrical properties. Using a dye system that reveals different magnitudes of the property called “resting potential” it is possible to visualize patterns that predict where the components of the face will form. These are among the first images ever taken of this phenomenon due to the difficulty of using these dyes in a living animal. Images of eight different embryos that were stained with the fluorescent dyes CC2 and DiBAC were taken using an Olympus BX-61 microscope with epifluorescence optics. Photoshop was used to change the pixels from different levels of gray to different gradients of colors, so that different values of resting potential are shown as different colors in each image. The stripe going down the center of each embryo is the forming spinal cord; the teardrop at its end is the forming brain. In the lower right hand corner is a photograph of a tadpole like the ones these embryos became