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Electron Microscopy Sciences

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KEYNIGHTSEA / EMS KEY Award Winner 2018

The NIGHTSEA and Electron Microscopy Sciences (EMS) KEY Award is an annual equipment grant to an individual entering their first faculty position at a U. S. college or university. The award consists of

NIGHTSEA and EMS introduced the KEY Award in 2015 and received many excellent applications.

This year's winner...

Dr. Pierre-Paul Bitton, who started his new position as Assistant Professor in the Cognitive and Behavioral Ecology (CABE) program at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Dr. Bitton is researching the mechanisms of fluorescent protein production, especially in red- and green-fluorescing fish. During his time as a research associate at the University of Tübingen in Germany (under the tutelage of Prof. Dr. Nico Michiels), he was a key contributor to modeling perception, and to the development of pavo, an R-based platform for the spectral analysis of color. He used these modeling tools to calculate depth-dependent chromatic and achromatic perceptual contrasts in triplefin Tripterygion delaisi vision. Dr. Bitton's hope is that his research will contribute to the identification of the molecules responsible for conferring fluorescent properties in vertebrate tissues and by doing so, help elucidate the mechanisms and purposes of fluorescent protein production in these organisms.

Previous winners

The inaugural 2015 award went to Dr. Robert Mitchell at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, where he is using the system to aid his neuroscience research using beetles.

The 2016 award recipient was Dr. Sarah Petersen at Kenyon College. She is using the system for her research with the zebrafish model, undergraduate education, and community outreach.

The 2017 award went to Dr. Kristen Gorman at California State University, Chico. Dr. Gorman pioneered use of the medaka, a small fish, as a model organism for studying idiopathic scoliosis. Dr. Gorman will be using the NIGHTSEA system to support her research, and also for education and outreach.

About this award

Fluorescence is increasingly central to many fields of research, most notably in the life sciences, but also in other disciplines. New faculty start-up budgets are limited and fluorescence microscopy equipment can be very expensive. Immediately after the introduction of the economical NIGHTSEA Stereo Microscope Fluorescence Adapter (SFA) system, we realized that it was popular among researchers entering their first faculty position because it provides an economical way to implement a fluorescence capability at a reasonable cost.

NIGHTSEA founder Dr. Charles Mazel's R&D career owes much to the inspiration and support of many people. The KEY Award is a way of giving back to the community and honors several of those individuals.

According to Dr. Mazel:

'K' is for Dr. Les Kaufman, Professor of Biology at Boston University. I met Les when he was Director of Research at the New England Aquarium and I was just a SCUBA diver walking in off the street with a 35mm slide deck of photographs of fluorescing corals. His excitement and encouragement led me back to school to pursue research into the meaning of the phenomenon and ultimately to a rewarding research career.
'E' represents two people – Dr. Harold E. 'Doc' Edgerton of MIT and Dr. Thomas Eisner of Cornell University. I was privileged to know both of these great men. Doc was a pioneer in both high speed imaging and underwater search, and an inspiration to all who met him. Tom was a great entomologist, the 'father of chemical ecology', and absolutely brilliant at using photographic imagery to communicate his observations of nature and the novel scientific investigations that they inspired.
'Y' also represents two people – the remarkable husband and wife team of Drs. Charlie and Clarice Yentsch. I met this inspirational pair of scientists when I entered my PhD program, and Charlie was on my thesis committee. I was privileged to spend a summer conducting research at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, which they founded, and working side by side with them on numerous field projects.

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