Archive for September, 2013

Slideshow should show up below. :) Roll over for text.

Neuroscientist Sheila Nirenberg, an alumna of MBL’s Neural Systems and Behavior (NS&B) course, was one of 24 people to be named a MacArthur Fellow this week by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Nirenberg, whose research focuses on deciphering the neural “codes” that transform visual stimuli into signals the brain can understand, is an associate professor in the Physiology and Biophysics department at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Nirenberg says NS&B, which she took in 1986, “was one of the best things ever. Worked hard,
played hard, learned so much so fast!” She also lectured in the MBL’s Methods in Computational Neuroscience course in 2012. MacArthur Fellows receive a no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000.

A thin crescent of ice was still on Eel Pond when Pablo Correa came to the MBL last March to begin shooting a video. Correa’s visit was exploratory: He knew he wanted to make a short documentary about the MBL, but hadn’t defined a focus beyond the diverse animals maintained in the Marine Resources Center. Correa spent several days shadowing David Remsen, manager of the Marine Resources Department, and his staff, and he took an early-season sail with them on the MBL’s collecting boat, the Gemma. He also observed several MBL scientists who use marine animals as model organisms in their research.

The video Correa ended up making, “These Eyes Follow the Moon,” is not a typical documentary. It is nearly wordless and impressionistic. Yet it also captures an essential “feeling” about the MBL. It moves from the wide-open spaces of the MBL’s ocean setting to the quiet, focused concentration in labs where instruments are prepared for the microscopic imaging of cells. The video also reflects the rhythm of Marine Resources just as the collecting season starts up in early spring. (The MBL collects marine organisms for biological research from April through December, with August being the high season when squid and many other species are collected daily. “August is also the time of year when anything unusual starts to show up in the nets,” Remsen says.)

Correa is editor of the science section of El Espectador, a daily newspaper with national circulation based in Bogotá, Colombia; and a free-lancer for SciDev.net, a network that publishes science news from developing countries. He was a fellow in MIT’s Knight Science Journalism program in 2012-2013.

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Featured in this video are:

In the Marine Resources Center: Skate (Rajidae) at 0:06, 0:24 and 0:33; spider crabs (Libinia) at 3:30; scup (Stenotomus) at 3:40; spiny dogfish (Squalus ) at 4:10; seahorse (Hippocampus) at 4:16. At 4:30, Dave Remsen describes the eyes of the horseshoe crab (Limulus). At 5:30, cuttlefish (Sepiida) for the study of cephalopod camouflage in Roger Hanlon’s laboratory.

Movie of squid skin at 6:27 by Trevor Wardill and Paloma Gonzalez-Bellido: Confocal z-stack of squid skin, blue and green colors showing tissue auto fluorescence and Lucifer yellow forward filled neurons shifted to red using antibodies.

Gonzalez-Bellido PT and Wardill TJ (2012). Labeling and confocal imaging of neurons in thick invertebrate tissue samples. Cold Spring Harb Protoc: doi:10.1101/pdb.prot069625

Movie of dividing cells at 7:20 by James LaFountain and Rudolf Oldenbourg: The events of cell division during meiosis I in a living insect spermatocyte. Testes from the Crane fly Nephrotoma suturalis were observed with time-lapse liquid crystal polarized light microscopy (LC-PolScope, MBL, Woods Hole MA, and PerkinElmer, Hopkinton MA). Movie images display the naturally occurring birefringence of cell organelles and structures that are made up of aligned molecules, such as the meiotic spindle and mitochondria. Horizontal image width is 56 µm.