Microscopy Matters

Insights from the Advanced Imaging Center at Janelia



LeongAfter obtaining a BS in Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Chew went to St. Louis University to pursue his PhD, where he worked to understand the role of myosin II regulation in endothelial cells. Realizing that conventional biochemical methods could not address the spatial and temporal regulation of signaling pathways inside the cell, Chew embarked on his postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Rex Chisholm by developing fluorescent biosensor to simultaneously monitor the enzymatic activity and localization pattern of myosin light chain kinase in vivo.

In 2002, Chew became the director of the Center for Advanced Microscopy at Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University in 2002, and led the facility to be recognized as one of the few selected Nikon Imaging Centers of Excellence in the world. At the same time, his lab began devising methods to engineer three-dimensional, lumenized vascular network capable of dynamic signaling read-out. This approach ultimately allowed Chew and his team to dissect the regulatory signals in the opposing endothelial cells during active tumor diapedesis – providing a rare glimpse into the signaling cascade during tumor invasion, not from the perspective of the cancer cell, but from the underlying endothelium.

In 2009, Chew was further appointed to the position of Director for University Imaging Resources at Northwestern, overseeing the overarching strategy in building integrated imaging infrastructure across all seven imaging centers and cores within the university.

Chew joined Janelia in 2014 to serve as the Director for the Advanced Imaging Center. Here, he leads the effort in building the unique collaborative imaging center that serves as the gateway through which the wider scientific world can access Janelia’s cutting-edge microscopy capabilities.


JesseJesse Aaron has over 12 years’ experience in optical imaging design, development, and applications in molecular imaging across a range of biological models.  He previously was Senior Engineer at Vutara, Inc., in Salt Lake City, UT, where he helped to design, test, and successfully commercialize 3D super-resolution microscopy systems based on the biplane detection method (see M.F. Juette, et al., Nat. Meth. 2008). 

Jesse performed postdoctoral work at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM, where he implemented several high-resolution optical imaging systems, including TIRF, STORM, hyperspectral, and STED microscopies, with applications ranging widely from cell surface receptor tracking and innate immune response, to algal biofuels research.  Jesse received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin where he studied the use of metal nanoparticle plasmon resonance scattering as a novel optical probe strategy for cancer imaging and diagnostics.  


JohnJohn Heddleston has nearly a decade of experience at the interdisciplinary boundary of engineering, physics, and biology. Prior to joining the Advanced Imaging Center at Janelia , he was a National Research Council postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, MD. At NIST, John leveraged his expertise in cancer biology to adapt optical spectroscopy techniques for use in biological systems, including using coherent anti-stokes Raman spectroscopy (CARS) as a method of unbiased chemical analysis of normal and pathologic tissue specimens (see C.H. Camp, et al., Nat Phot. 2014). He also utilized optical techniques to characterize carbon nanomaterials following introduction into murine model systems. John received his Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio where he investigated the influence of the tumor microenvironment on glioblastoma multiforme epigenetic state and tumorigenicity.


LinLin Shao obtained his Ph.D. from the University of California San Francisco, working under the guidance of John Sedat, Mats Gustafsson, and David Agard on how to improve resolution of wide-field fluorescence microscopy. The main technique he learned and improved on is the structured-illumination microscopy (SIM), pioneered by the late Mats Gustafsson. In one particular form of SIM he worked on, two opposing objective lenses, arranged in a manner similar to a Mach-Zehnder interferometer, were used to both illuminate the sample and detect the fluorescence signal. Such microscope was demonstrated to achieve 100-nm scale resolution in all three dimensions. He was instrumental in the rollout of the first commercial product involving SIM, the DeltaVision OMX by GE Healthcare. After moving to the Gustafsson group at Janelia in 2009, Lin demonstrated for the first time live 3D imaging of living cells using SIM. He was then under the supervision of Eric Betzig, helping the development of lattice light-sheet microscopy and applying SIM to biology through collaboration with visitors who are interested in the technology. Lin is interested in various imaging technologies and has extensive experiences in software design for both algorithm and instrumentation development.