What is the Microscopy Lab?

Boone - Dr. Guichuan Hou (Biology) came to Appalachian State University in 2006 to run the William C. and Ruth Anne Dewel Microscopy Facility. There you can find him presiding over the use and maintenance of the universities most expensive microscopes.

This lab, named for its former directors and long time faculty at Appalachian, is a core facility managed by the College of Arts and Sciences.

The concept of a core facility is a nationwide idea supported by the National Science Foundation to serve the needs of educators by creating a multi-departmental shared laboratory space. The Microscopy core facility at Appalachian serves Biology, Physics, Geology, Chemistry, Biological Anthropology and even Exercise Sciences.

The Microscopy Lab is comprised of three major microscopes: the scanning electron microscope, the transmitting electron microscope and the laser scanning confocal microscope.

The scanning electron microscope uses electron beam to scan samples, biological or non-biological, in order to study surface morphology at desired resolution. The microscope is also equipped with an X-ray detector for elemental analysis.

The transmission electron microscope, like the scanning microscope, uses electron beam but looks at inner structures of a sample, such as mitochondria, the nuclear membrane of a cell and also the detail structure of bacteria and viruses. Many students at Appalachian interested in medical school gain experience using the transmission electron microscope to prepare for future research.

The laser scanning confocal microscope is for modern cell and molecular research. For example, faculty and students at Appalachian are able to study genes by tagging them with fluorescent proteins and imaging them in the live sample. The laser scanning microscope can then be used to generate a time series showing the gene movement.

Originally, the major equipment for the facility was funded through successful National Science Foundation grants. The College of Arts & Sciences provides funds for service contract and ancillary equipment. To ensure the facility continues to have the most relevant technology, Dr. Hou along with other faculty are currently working on a grant for the National Science Foundation to update the microscopes in the Microscopy lab. "The Microscopy is a powerful tool for many scientific disciplines and this facility supports all the faculty and staff for doing their research, teaching and for outreach projects. We still need to try to get more grants to constantly upgrade the microscopes in order to meet the growing microscopy need on our campus." says Dr. Hou.

To request use of the Microscopy facility you may do so through their website casmifa.appstate.edu/facility/facility-request.

Published: Nov 3, 2015 12:07pm