Archive for July, 2012

Joy Found Looking Through the Microscope Lens

Graduate students in biology work long, hard hours, often with little to no usable data to substantiate their efforts.  I remember having many frustrating moments, but with microscopy experiments, my reaction to negative results was often still upbeat.  Sometimes the images were so beautiful that they took center stage on my desktop even though they would never grace the pages of my thesis.

My love for microscopy does not make me unique among scientists.  Take Dr. Robert Rock Belliveau, a retired pathologist whose eyes never grew tired of the microscopic world.  In a post on Smithsonian.com, he stated, “I would go to work and spend ten hours a day looking through a microscope.  A couple of times a week, I would say to myself, ‘I can’t believe they pay me to do this.’ I just loved going to work and doing what I did.”  Post-retirement, he has focused his exceptional skills on the plant world, enabling people to see fruits and vegetables in a whole new way.  His image of trichomes on a cucumber received an honorable mention from the NSF’s International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge in 2011.  Check out the image here.

As I transitioned to teaching, I realized that students often share this joy found by looking through the microscope lens.  This year, my school invested in a suite of Moticam 2300s.  My students can now get high resolution photographs with both our compound light microscopes and our stereo microscopes.  The images and video below are a few of my favorites that they captured this year.

Stamen of an Iris

Ovary of an Iris

Skeletal muscle

Simple cuboidal epithelium