A list of the Institute principal investigators, past and present, organized by their field - ,
, , ,
and - then arranged alphabetically by last name.
Ava Chase -
Using discrimination tasks we explore the perceptual and cognitive capabilities in fish.
David Cox -
We recognize visual objects with such ease that it is easy to overlook what an impressive computational
feat this represents. Any given object in the world can cast an effectively infinite number of different
images onto the retina, depending on its position relative to the viewer, the configuration of light
sources, and the presence of other objects in the visual field. In spite of this extreme variation,
biological visual systems are able to effortlessly recognize at least hundreds of thousands of
distinct object classesa feat that no current artificial system can come close to achieving.
Our laboratory seeks to understand the neuronal mechanisms that enable this ability by reverse
engineering simple biological visual systems. It is our hope that this work leads to a greater
understanding of how our own brain works and to the construction of improved artificial visual systems.
Ben de Bivort -
Evolution & Neurobiology
The animal kingdom has immense morphological diversity, but even greater behavioral diversity. We study how evolution
generates behavioral diversity, particularly how natural genetic variation modifies neural circuits and circuit
properties in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and related species. We are
also studying how fungal insect parasites target healthy
neural circuits to modify walking behavior in living hosts. These questions are
addressed using versatile Drosophila genetic tools, high resolution single animal behavioral assays, and fluorescent
genetically-encoded indicators of neural circuit activity.
Elizabth Kane -
Systems neuroscience aims to explain animal behavior through the organization and function of the nervous system.
Vertebrate nervous systems are so large and complex that behavior cannot currently be mapped to complete sensorimotor pathways.
To do this, one must turn to simpler genetic model organisms to gain a systems-level understanding of the fundamental
principles by which neural circuits generate diverse behaviors. The lab seeks to understand how brains convert sensory
inputs into behavioral outputs at a systems neural circuit level using interdisciplinary techniques from biophysics,
genetics and neuroscience. The lab utilizes the innate light avoidance behavior (negative phototaxis) of the Drosophila larva as a model system.
Kristin Lewis - |
Ecology & Botany
Parasitic angiosperms are unusual among parasitic organisms in that they and their hosts are in the same order and are very similar
physiologically. The comparable physiology of parasite and host enables the parasite to create direct connections with host-plant conductive
tissues and cells. Additionally, the host and parasite are influenced by similar endogenous and exogenous physiological cues.
We are interested in what kinds of information can be shared across the host-parasite boundary and how this affects both plants'
responses to environmental conditions. Our research focuses on the use of novel methodology to track transfer of resources
and signaling molecules between host and parasite.
Chris Richards -
My lab explores how muscles move limbs to power swimming. Muscle is a spectacularly efficient and
powerful motor which drives behaviors that impress biologists and engineers alike.
How do aquatic animals accelerate rapidly or maneuver precisely at high swimming speeds? Intuition tells us that high
performance swimming, such as prey capture or escaping, demands high muscle power.
However, we cannot often predict the muscle power required for a given swimming task.
Moreover, we do not fully understand how nerves communicate with
muscles to achieve the exquisite control of swimming performance seen in nature.
My lab seeks to understand the physiological basis for
how nature's swimming machines (e.g. frogs, fish, aquatic insects) solve the difficult
engineering problem of moving rapidly through water.
Robert Savoy -
Brain mapping research using temporal resolution of fMRI to drive novel experimental design.
Rachel Spicer -
Plants are able to regenerate whole body parts like roots and shoots with
relative ease because they demonstrate amazing cellular plasticity.
Masters of dedifferentiation, plants not only retain pools of stem cells
throughout their lives, but also create new stem cells in response to
developmental and environmental cues. My primary interest is in the role
of parenchyma cells in shaping large woody plants - namely, through their
ability to dedifferentiate and generate new meristems in response to
wounding, and during the transition to secondary growth. I'm interested
in developing molecular and microscopy techniques to study secondary
growth, including methods to image live cells in woody tissue.
Howard Berg -
Bacterial Behavior and Motility
We study bacteria, the simplest free-living single-celled organisms. We are interested in how
they sense changes in their environment, analyze sensory data, and respond in a purposeful manner.
Our quest is an understanding of behavior at the molecular level and our primary subject is
the peritrichously-flagellated organism Escherichia coli.
Steven M. Block -
Single Molecule Biophysics
Research in our lab marries aspects of physics and biology to study the properties of proteins
or nucleic acids at the level of single macromolecules and molecular complexes.
Experimental tools include laser-based optical traps ("optical tweezers")
and a variety of state-of-the-art fluorescence techniques, in conjunction with
custom-built instrumentation for the nanometer-level detection of displacements and piconewton-level detection of forces.
Amit Meller -
Single Molecule Biophysics
We study the dynamics of individual DNA and RNA molecules threaded through a nanomete
scale pore (nanopore). The threading of the negatively charged biopolymers is
made possible by an electric field applied across the nanopore. Controlling the magnitude of
the field in real time allow us to apply a varying force on the molecule and study its
response. In this way we are able to detect the interactions of polynucleotides with proteins,
and study secondary structure formation in RNA. The structure of the single molecule is probed
using time-resolved Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer and single channel ion current
Diane Schaak -
Having a diverse background in biophysical sciences, with emphasis on maintaining the biological aspects
of experimental systems, I advise and assist both Senior and Junior Scientists here at Rowland in developing
biologically relevant laboratory experiments. Available for use are two clean rooms, one for nanofabrication
and the other for cell culture.
Frank Vollmer -
We are interested in design and fabrication of photonic structures and circuits that interface,
probe and manipulate biological systems with single molecule sensitivity. To reach this objective,
light-matter interaction can be sufficiently enhanced by photon recirculation in micro- and
nano-scale cavities that offer ultimate Q and record-low modal volume. Once established,
the technique can help elucidate recognition, interaction and transformation of label-free
biomolecules, the interplay of which give rise to various complex functions and networks that
have evolved in the cell. Furthermore, access to a vast repertoire of functionality by
self-assembly of purified or genetically altered biological components provides
exciting opportunity for engineering of molecular-photonic device architecture.
Wesley Wong -
Single-molecule Force Studies
We are interested in how biological systems work at the nanoscale, and the
physical laws that govern their behavior. Our focus is on weak, thermally
mediated interactions between and within biological molecules (e.g.
base-pairing in nucleic acids, receptor-ligand bonding, protein folding,
etc.), and the coupling of these interactions to mechanical force. We are
currently developing and applying new techniques, based on optical
tweezers and high-resolution optical detection, to study the mechanics and
force-driven kinetics of single-molecules.
Louis Cincotta -
Photomedicine and Photobiology
Supramolecular chemistry of the phenothiazine moeity and design of photosensitizers for the photo-inactivation of viruses.
Isolation of anti-cancer agents from natural products and the exploration of tumor immunotherapies
through the use of photodynamically generated tumor associated antigens.
Zvonimir Dogic -
Complex Fluids and Condensed Matter
The objective of our research is to understand and control the self-assembly
of matter on a colloidal length scale. The basic building blocks used are colloids
of chemical or biological origin with well controlled spherical or rod-like shape
and polymers with varying persistence length. The interactions between these components
are well understood and can be modified in systematic ways. Despite the simplicity
of these building blocks, they assemble into a variety of novel structures with unexpected
complexity, e.g. 2D smectic phases, colloidal membranes, twisted chiral ribbons, and lamellar
and columnar phases. These processes of self-assembly are under thermodynamic control and we
use statistical mechanics to understand the final equilibrium structures.
In the future we intend to study the assembly, phase transitions and dynamics
of colloidal systems under non-equilibrium conditions
Alessandra Ferzoco -
Cold Ion Spectroscopy
Reactions useful for the conversion of light energy into chemical energy are often complex
because they require multiple charge transfer steps. Coupling electron and proton transfer
facilitates these reactions by avoiding the high-energy intermediates found if
electrons and protons are transferred individually and by enabling multiple
charge transfer steps at one location. Our lab seeks to understand the types of chemical
structures and environments that promote concerted electron/proton transfer by studying
how ion structure changes in going from the ground state to electronically
excited states. To accomplish these studies our lab works at the intersection between
mass spectrometry and laser spectroscopy. We develop custom instrumentation to generate
and trap ions and ion-molecule complexes, control their temperature, and then
interrogate them by various types of spectroscopy.
Peer Fischer - |
Symmetry and Chirality
Our research focuses on the interaction of molecules with optical, magnetic, and electric fields.
We are interested in a diverse spectrum of phenomena, ranging from light-matter interactions
to electromagnetic forces. A specific aim is to develop new experimental methods and instrumentation
for the detection of molecules and the separation of enantiomers.
James Foley -
Photochemistry and Photobiology
Our research interests center on understanding fundamental structure/function relationships pertaining to the
photophysics that govern the properties and behavior of organic dyes. We use this knowledge to develop improved chromophores
for use in biophysical, biological and medical applications such as single molecule detection, fluorescent reporting and
photodynamic therapy. Our approach encompasses nearly every aspect that is essential to such an undertaking including
computer-aided design, chemical synthesis and photophysical characterization of target dyes.
Jeffrey Hoch -
We study protein structure, dynamics, and stability. We try to understand how these properties
relate to biological function. Our principal tool is NMR spectroscopy, but we also rely on other biophysical techniques.
John Osterhout -
Studies of a helical hairpin peptide, alpha -turn-alpha, which is a de novo designed helix-turn-helix
peptide using Circular Dichroism (CD) and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR)
SJ Claire Hur -
Single-cell deformability has been recently identified as a critical biomarker for various
diseases and it varies considerably based on phenotypes. Current cell deformability measurement
techniques, however, are inherently low throughput for statistical analysis of large
heterogeneous biological samples. We focus on developing high-throughput microfluidic
techniques for measuring intrinsic properties of single cells, including intracellular
viscosity, membrane tension/elasticity and Young's modulus. These measurements
will allow us to identify potential genetic-alterations and phenotype-changes
, responsible for modification in such properties of cells. Furthermore, systematic
determination of single-cell mechanical properties in a rapid and standardized manner
will expedite an adoption of aforementioned properties as new types of
biomarkers for phenotype characterizations. These newly revealed biomarkers should provide
efficient tools for determining the cell state and phenotype, which are potentially
useful for cancer diagnostics and prognostics, cell-based therapeutics as well as developmental biology.
Shriram Ramanathan -
Oxides and thin films
Research in our group is primarily focused on oxide thin films and nanostructures with emphasis on
understanding how processing affects properties. Research activities include developing mechanistic
understanding of initial stages of oxidation of metals and oxygen incorporation into oxides under
photon irradiation. Phase evolution in oxides and their stability as a function of temperature and
doping is investigated using combination of structural, electrical and electrochemical studies.
Quantitative determination of oxygen concentration in nanoscale oxides and research on techniques
to precisely control oxygen stoichiometry at interfaces are also being actively pursued.
Potential applications of our research include electronic devices, solar and hydrogen energy
Frans Spaepen -
My interests span a wide range of experimental and theoretical topics, such as amorphous metals and semiconductors
(viscosity, diffusion, mechanical properties), the structure and thermodynamics of interfaces
(crystal/melt, amorphous/crystalline semiconductors, grain boundaries), mechanical properties of thin films,
the perfection of silicon crystals for metrological applications, and colloidal systems as models for
the study of dynamics and defects in crystals and glasses.
Michael Burns -
Over the years I've participated in a number of, to me, facinating projects.
I have found no particular common thread other than simple curiousity coupled with an
opportunity to indulge that curiousity, and equally curious colleagues. Some of the current
and past projects are described herein.
Dongmin Chen -
Nanoscale Quantum Physics
The main thrust of our group is to explore novel quantum
phenomena in nanoscale materials using scanning tunneling microscopy
in an ultra high vacuum, low temperature and high magnetic field environment.
Jean-Marc Fournier -
Research in how light interacts with matter : Lippmann photography
(historical full-color photography process), developement of very high resolution photosensitive
materials, optical trapping, holography, and an ultra-sensitive phase imaging microscope.
Lene Vestergaard Hau -
Bose-Einstein Condensation and Non-Linear Optics
Research centered on cold atoms and Bose-Einstein condensation. Using laser cooling to efficiently precool
atoms to temperatures in the microkelvin regime, then subsequently, the atoms are trapped in a 4 Dee magnet
and evaporatively cooled to nanokelvin temperatures. This results in the creation of Bose-Einstein condensates
typically containing millions of atoms. The condensates are formed in an ultra high vacuum system constructed
for easy access to and manipulation of cold atom clouds with light probes and mechanical structures.
Winfield Hill -
My lab pursues R & D projects that
push the envelope of scientific instrumentation. We do this by applying technologies from
diverse fields to create unique instruments, and by learning and applying advanced circuit-design
knowledge to endow otherwise common-place instruments with superior performance.
Venky Narayanamurti -
Semiconductor Electronic Materials
Research within the Narayanamurti Group is directed at the physics of hot electron- and hole- transport
in novel semiconductor electronic materials and devices. A key goal
is to study quantum confinement effects in nanostructures. The group interacts with similar
electronic materials efforts at other universities, government, and industrial research laboratories.
Jiwoong Park -
Nanoelectronics and Nanosensors
The electrical conductance of many nanoscale materials is strongly affected by a local
electrostatic and electrochemical environment. This unique property can be utilized
to build a nanosensor whose spatial resolution is comparable to the size of the sensor itself.
The objective of our research is to investigate the electron transport properties of various
nanoscale materials, including carbon nanotubes, semiconducting nanowires and single molecules,
and to develop nanoscale sensors based on them.
Joel Parks -
Trapped Ion Dynamics
Electron diffraction measurements of isolated, single sized clusters stored in ion traps is being applied to the study of
small (n ~10-50 atoms) metal clusters including Aun and Agn. These measurements are directed to better understand and exploit the
dependence of catalytic reactivity on cluster structure and temperature. Sensitive methods developed to measure laser-induced
fluorescence from <10 trapped ions are being applied to study the dynamics of DNA in gas phase. Temperature dependent measurements
demonstrate these methods will be useful to characterize conformational change in gas phase biomolecules. Sequential loss of electrons
from trapped DNA anions has been observed for the first time and experiments suggest DNA conformations may be a determining factor.
Qimin Quan -
Nanoscale Sensors and Systems
Our lab seeks to understand novel optical phenomena in nanoscale structures and apply these novel phenomena to build functional devices.
Optical cavities and nanostructures provide powerful means for modifying the interactions between light and matter, and have many exciting
applications from quantum communications to sensors. We are interested in developing high-sensitivity, high-throughput biomedical sensors
towards the realization of a portable instrument. We are also interested in combining the light manipulation method with functional materials,
such as polymers and carbon nanotubes to realize new functions.
Ozgur Sahin - |
At the molecular level, physical and chemical properties of materials are tightly coupled to the mechanical
properties. The potential of mechanics for interacting with matter at the nanoscale has been largely
unexplored due to lack of instruments capable of performing mechanical measurements at nanometer length
scales. Our research focuses on developing tools and techniques to perform nanomechanical measurements
and applying them to problems in materials science, cell biology, and molecular biology.
Yuki Sato -
Applied Matter & Devices
One of the overarching themes of our research is the investigations and applications of quantum coherent matter. In superconductors, superfluids, and Bose-Einstein condensates, a large fraction of constituent particles can occupy the same quantum ground state and behave in many ways as a single entity. We are interested in not only studying fascinating properties of such state of matter but also applying them as a set of tools to elucidate some subtleties of the quantum world. With disregard for presumed boundaries between applied physics, material science, and engineering, we also develop metamaterials and devices whose novel properties do not naturally exist in nature. Our current interests include superfluid and superconducting Josephson phenomena, nano/micro/meta-materials & devices, inertial sensing technologies, matter wave interferometry, and force/displacement sensing limits.
Ethan Schonbrun -
In biotechnology and medical diagnostics there is a large demand for the analysis of enormous sets of samples.
Optical detection systems such as micro-array scanners, flow cytometers, and fluorescence microscopes are
the standard work horse instrumentation for these applications. While these systems have proven successful,
they are frequently based on the frame of a standard optical microscope which has tradeoffs in field of view,
resolution, and light collection. By designing optical systems using a priori knowledge of the sample, many
of these tradeoffs can be circumvented. In the MOIRE lab, we will investigate optical detection systems based
on microfabricated components, such as lens arrays, computer generated holograms, and artificial dielectrics.
By integrating these components with microfluidics and high speed cameras, we hope to realize a new generation
of optical diagnostic devices.
Andrew Speck -
Ultracold Rydberg Atoms and Terahertz Spectroscopy
The objective of our research is to study the interaction of highly excited,
or Rydberg atoms, with unipolar terahertz electromagnetic pulses (half cycle
pulses). These systems provide a fascinating regime in which to explore
atomic states which exhibit both classical and quantum properties. The
first series of experiments in my group will explore the interaction of a
train of these pulses with Rydberg atoms. Further research will include the
study of the magnetic properties of the half cycle pulse and their effect on