Frequently Asked Questions

The fundamental observations we make as humans are based on the "ensemble" of all information our senses have collected. Our decisions are made based on statistical entities that interpret the data in its entirety, such as the mean or mode, to make a conclusion. However, these simple statistical descriptors that summarize a whole set of data do not always capture the full picture. Taking a single-molecule approach acknowledges that the rarest events sometimes carry the most important information, information not reflected in the gross statistical measures. For our research, we seek to identify the rare events that play a crucial role in surface chemistry by looking at each molecule's individual contribution to the ensemble reading.
There is a fundamental limit to the size of something we can see using light based microscopy. The Abbe-Diffraction limit sets the lower bound of what can be resolved. Unfortunately, much of the phenomena we want to observe falls below this limit. Breaching this lower limit requires that we utilize clever statistical techniques in combination with what we know about point-spread functions to super-resolve the position of a particle.
A point-spread function (PSF) is the response of an imaging system to a point source emitting light. The level of blurring of the PSF is a direct indicator for the quality of the optical equipment being used. However, even the best equipment will experience some form of blurring. Resolving the true location of the emitter that creates the PSF requires advanced imaging processing.
FRET occurs whenever the adsorption spectrum of one fluorescent tag overlaps with the emission spectrum of a nearby emitter. Under small enough distances, energy is transferred from the donor tag to the receiver tag. The intensity of the resulting emission from the receiving fluorescent tag is related to the physical distance between the two tags. If the position of these tags on the protein are known, we can use this emission to track the conformational changes of the protein.
While prior knowledge about optics, chemistry, or coding are beneficial, our group does not hold these as prerequisites. Instead, we seek those with a voracious desire to learn and an understanding that good research takes time.
The amount of experimental work versus data analysis can shift drastically from project to project. Both are an important part of the research process but the balance is often up to the individual researcher. However, gaining experience in both skills is critical to your development in the sciences.
Our lab has many collaborators all over the world. Locally, our lab works very closely with the Stephan Link Research Group and hold a regular super-group meeting where members from both labs can offer input on the newest research results.
Our lab is always looking for new students ready to develop their research skills. See the our Apply Now page for more information.