Flow cytometry instrument development


Students are sought to help with a biomedical engineering research project. Our research incorporates many disciplines including: biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, chemical engineering, and physics.

Our laboratory studies flow cytometry. Flow cytometry is a single cell counting tool used to collect features from cells including phenotype, genotype, morphology, and more. Flow cytometers work by passing cells through a finely focused laser and measuring light scatter and fluorescence that is emitted as the cell moves through the beam. By focusing cells through an excitation source, the emission that is measured is correlated to various traits of the cell allowing us to make conclusions about things such as cell viability, protein expression levels, signaling, presence of DNA, and many other characteristics.

Our laboratory is developing new flow cytometers in order to study a range of applications that include detection of cellular metabolism of cancer cells, determining the levels of transmembrane cell receptor activation, measuring intracellular enzyme kinetics, and development of new fluorescent proteins for microscopy and imaging.

The project that we are working on includes taking existing cytometry systems and retrofitting them with a unique set of hardware that allows us to measure the fluorescence dynamics from the cell.

  • Students working on this project will be involved in one or more of the following:
  • learning about flow cytometry
  • troubleshooting with cytometers for repair, improvement, and optimization
  • understanding fluorescence and how to measure the timing of fluorescence decay
  • use and alignment of medium powered lasers 
  • growth and culture of mammalian cells for use (Requires biosafety training)
  • data acquisition and digital signal processing (using MATLAB)
  • microfluidics
  • biophotonics (use of optics/light to detect and make measurements on biological materials)

Completion Objectives:

  • Participating in research group meetings on a weekly basis
  • Presenting at research group meetings(making presentations)
  • Maintaining a laboratory notebook
  • Meeting with Dr. Houston on a weekly basis
  • Maintaining the minimum number of hours in the laboratory per week (or more!)
  • Possible development of abstract for conference attendance
  • Development of a written report at the end of the semester

Faculty Advisor:


Required Competencies

It is strongly recommended that students be competent in the following areas:

  • Cell Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Math through Differential Equations

Student Researcher:


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