Currently STORM imaging can achieve 20nm resolution fluorescence microscopy in single cells. We hope to get the same resolution, imaging the interior of a cell that is inside a section of tissue or inside an organism.
Peter focuses on the development of techniques of super-resolution microscopy and adaptive optics for biological research and biomedical applications.
Peter got excited about STORM super-resolution microscopy soon after it was developed in 2006: STORM increases the power of conventional microscopy ten-fold. Peter knew that with brighter light sources, like quantum dots, STORM could get even better resolution. But the quantum dots would have to be “photoswitchable“— they’d have to be able to be turned on and off. In 2010, Peter met Jessica Winter at an NSF Ideas Lab called "Innovations in Biological Imaging and Visualization." Jessica was using quantum dots as biomarkers in medical diagnostic applications. Peter asked Jessica if she could make switchable quantum dots for use in STORM imaging. She came up with some ideas. They teamed up with biologist Beth Brainerd and bioengineer Ge Yang, who were both looking for ways to record nanoscale dynamics inside living cells. Then they recruited Carol Lynn Alpert to help with communication and education. These five launched QSTORM with NSF funding in 2010. (See qstormlegacy.org.) Peter spearheaded the second QSTORM-AO proposal and now leads our project.
Peter graduated from MIT in 1991 with a B.S. in both Physics and Electrical Engineering. He completed his Ph.D. in Physics at the University of California, Berkeley while working at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He is a tenured professor at the University of Georgia and runs the Advanced Imaging Lab (http://knerlab.engr.uga.edu/) He received a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award in 2014 and has published widely. (http://knerlab.engr.uga.edu/publications/).
Where are you at this point in your career?
I’m never sure how to answer this question. I guess I’m in the middle. I got tenure last Fall. I have some funding to work on a few different exciting microscopy projects. I think things are going well.
What’s really exciting about getting this award from the IDBR program?
I’m really happy that we got this funding to continue working on QSTORM. I’m looking forward to working with Carol Lynn and Jessica again, and I’m excited about our ideas for improving STORM and Quantum Dots.