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Biologist Ambrose awarded CFI funding for super-resolution microscope

Posted on 2017-08-22 in Science & Technology

Chris Ambrose

A biologist in the College of Arts & Science is one of three University of Saskatchewan (U of S) early-career researchers who have been awarded a total of more than $300,000 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), for state-of-the-art equipment that will help them excel in leading-edge work.

Chris Ambrose, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology, has been awarded $230,700 by the CFI for a super-resolution microscope to pursue fundamental, inquiry-driven research in plant cell biology, a field with broad implications relevant to agriculture and biofuels.

The super-resolution confocal microscope will be the first of its kind at the U of S and an indispensable tool for researchers in a wide range of areas, from cell biology to biomedicine to agronomy.

The microscope passes laser light through a pinhole to remove out-of-focus light from a specimen. This enables scientists to obtain thin and sharply defined cross-sections that can be assembled to create three-dimensional images which can be viewed from all angles to inspect the fine details.

For Ambrose and his team, the advanced microscope will provide high-speed imaging of cellular dynamics and tissue development in plants, advancing their innovative research into the plant microtubule cytoskeleton. The cytoskeleton is the key organizer of plant cell walls, which are the primary source of all cellulosic biofuels on the planet.

Mechanical engineers Emily McWalter and James Johnston have also been awarded $75,300 for testing equipment that could help develop better treatments for osteoarthritis.

The two research teams are seeking other public and private funding to match the 40-per-cent CFI contribution, investment that would raise the total combined value of their projects to $765,000.

“This investment enables these exceptional researchers to conduct leading-edge research by giving them the tools and equipment they need to become leaders in their fields,” said Karen Chad, U of S vice-president research. “These awards also recognize the value of collaboration because the equipment supports researchers in a variety of fields at the U of S, who will come together to learn and share the knowledge.”


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