As an undergraduate I began working in a neurophysiology laboratory. The work on crustacean neurosecretion was fascinating, but I found it difficult to intuit and love the action potentials detected with microelectrodes and viewed on an oscilloscope. When I had the opportunity to learn electron microscopy at the University of California, Berkeley, I knew I'd found my niche.
Now, over 20 years later, I am the supervisor of the Biological Electron Microscope Facility in the Pacific Biomedical Research Center at the University of Hawaii. My duties include troubleshooting and maintaining the electron microscopes and other scientific insturments (for which I draw on my past experiences building VW engines), training people to use the instruments, and participating in the many steps involved in specimen preparation, data acquisition, and image interpretation. My favorite project still has to do with crustacean nervous systems - I work on antennal mechano-, chemo-, and gustatory sensory receptors in planktonic copepods.
These days, naturally, computers are used in various ways in the EM lab. In the course of becoming familiar with image editing software I became fond of colorizing (normally black and white) electron micrographs, such as you see on this web site. I am not an entomologist; I am more of a cell biologist (but thanks for the fan mail from you "buggy" types, anyway)! I actually spend more time involved in transmission electron microscopy than with the scanning electron microscopy that is mostly used here. TEM micrographs are usually more difficult for the lay person to interpret and understand, but I will be including some more examples here, soon.
I love what I do. Looking around inside cells to see if I can figure out how they work is my idea of a good time! Keeping these high-tech instruments running is a satisfying challenge. Scientific research involving EM is like a detective novel with really good pictures.
Being in the biological sciences is exciting; I sometimes think scientists have more of an appreciation for the mysteries and wonders of nature and life than they might without their research. I also love the technologies that help us to see and study these wonders, and to communicate our research to others.
Mahalo and aloha,