Looking Closer

Photos and text by Frank Miller

Willamette faculty and student researchers use microscopes in the Core Imaging Facility inside Olin Hall to investigate function and anatomy very, very closely.

A Phillips XL-30 scanning electron microscope gives a view of an organism’s external structures at fantastic magnification, giving researchers views impossible with traditional microscopes.

Recently acquired through a grant from the National Science Foundation, the facility’s Zeiss laser scanning confocal microscope takes the researcher deeper, into the cell itself.

Fluorescent dies, applied to cellular structures, are made viewable by the microscope, effectively allowing researchers to see through the cell to its inner workings. Also, the confocal laser microscope “sees” in 3-D, dramatically improving the quantity and quality of the data.

Applications for this information range from the creation of new medicines to material sciences and the physics of micro-proteins.