Selected Projects

Fast-scanning two-photon microscope

Two-photon miscroscope Figure 1: Fast-scanning two photon microscope
The microscope’s optical elements are laid out on a breadboard elevated over the behavioral arena. Inset: Top view of excitation optics.

Working in close collaboration with Professor Christopher Harvey, the Core helped design and build a custom two-photon microscope for imaging the brain of a mouse performing behavioral tasks. The microscope was designed from scratch to fit around a mouse behavioral arena. It has several advanced features including a resonance galvanometer for faster imaging and an enhanced optical pathway with a relay lens system and 2” collection optics to improve image resolution. The custom design provides added functionality and improved performance compared to commercially available systems. This instrument will be used to investigate neural circuits underlying decision-making behaviors.

Thermal stimulus delivery probe

Thermal stimulus delivery probe Figure 2: Thermal stimulus delivery probe
A. Probe consists of a narrow gauge tube for saline solution surrounded by an outer water jacket for heat exchange. B. Probe delivers a laminar 160 µm stream under the microscope objective. Red dye is solely for visualization.

Researchers in the Wilson Lab enlisted the Core to build an instrument for a new research program to study thermosensitive neurons on the antenna of a fruit fly. Their experiments required delivering a thermal stimulus with high spatial and temporal precision. Working with the graduate student performing these experiments, the Core designed and built an instrument that delivers a thin stream of temperature-controlled saline solution to a 0.15 mm target spot on the fly. Temperature is regulated by passing the saline through a heat exchanger which can heat or cool the saline by up to 20° C within seconds. The Wilson lab is presently using this instrument to collect data on thermosensitive neurons in the fly. These studies promise to teach us about the fundamental mechanisms of temperature sensation, which are poorly understood, but which appear to be fundamentally similar in flies and mammals.