There are four active areas of research in my laboratory:
1) Development of fluorescence-based sensing at high pressures
Widely used at ambient pressure, fluorescence sensing is useful for analytical studies on biological systems, revealing quantitative, real-time information regarding cellular metabolism. Before using fluorescent sensors at high pressure, biochemical and metabolic probes need to be characterized under pressure to ensure valid quantitative results. Our work includes high-pressure characterization of various optical probe dyes.
2) Development of spectral phasor approaches for cellular metabolic monitoring
Spectral phasor analysis was first reported in 2012, as a rapid approach for the spatial segmentation of hyperspectral images. It is a promising spectroscopic technique having largely unexplored analytical applications. Our work includes some of the earliest applications of the spectral phasor approach, focusing on the real-time analysis of UV-excited autofluorescence for the monitoring of mitochondrial function. We have validated a novel bioanalytical interpretation for observed spectral changes, capable of pathway-level discrimination of NADH- and NADPH-linked metabolic response.
3) Applications of cellular metabolic monitoring in tissue
Autofluorescence spectroscopy can provide information on the metabolic status of cellular systems, but extensions of these techniques to turbid media such as tissues is complicated by the presence of multiple scattering, background fluorescence, and intrinsic absorption. Here, we develop a spectral phasor approach for cellular metabolic sensing in tissue with biomedical applications.
4) Investigation of pressure effects on cellular mitochondrial function
Monitoring the real-time response of cellular systems to changes in the physico-chemical environment gives insight into metabolic function. Our work includes the development of a micro-perfusion system, making a range of real-time high-pressure studies possible, from investigations into the high-pressure growth rate of aerobes to functional studies on cellular respiration under extreme conditions. In addition to the basic science, pressure effects on microbes have food and biotechnology applications.