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Award Abstract #1229024

MRI: Acquisition of a FEI Tecnai G2 Spirit BioTWIN Transmission Electron Microscope

Div Of Biological Infrastructure
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Initial Amendment Date: July 16, 2012
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Latest Amendment Date: July 16, 2012
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Award Number: 1229024
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Robert Fleischmann
DBI Div Of Biological Infrastructure
BIO Direct For Biological Sciences
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Start Date: September 15, 2012
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End Date: August 31, 2013 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $631,505.00
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Investigator(s): Richard Dillaman dillamanr@uncw.edu (Principal Investigator)
Carmelo Tomas (Co-Principal Investigator)
Stephen Kinsey (Co-Principal Investigator)
Alison Taylor (Co-Principal Investigator)
Arthur Frampton (Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: University of North Carolina at Wilmington
601 South College Road
Wilmington, NC 28403-3201 (910)962-3167
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Program Reference Code(s):
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Program Element Code(s): 1189


The transmission electron microscope (TEM) enables visualization of cells and sub cellular structures that goes far beyond the resolving power of a conventional light microscope. Such microscopes are now a standard in the natural sciences, especially in cell and molecular biology. The advanced TEM capability offered by the Tecnai G2 Spirit BioTWIN is essential for the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) to maintain and expand its longstanding contribution to microscopic analysis. The UNCW Microscopy Lab is a multi-user facility that has a long history of serving the departments of Biology and Marine Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Psychology, Anthropology, Geology and Geography and Center for Marine Science. TEM-based analyses are a particularly critical component in the interdisciplinary portfolio of research in the Department of Biology and Marine Biology (DBMB) where the Tecnai will support the UNCW Microscopy Lab?s missions of teaching, research and service. With a faculty of over 40, delivering 3 Bachelor?s degrees, 2 Master?s and a Ph.D. program in Marine Biology, DBMB is the most significant user of the facility, especially the TEM. Three thematic clusters of research, representing the research of 10 faculty members, will be specifically enhanced by the acquisition of a Tecnai G2 Spirit BioTWIN: (1) marine microbial cell biology, (2) biomineralization and (3) biomedical-related research. The first theme includes research on the biology of harmful algae that contribute to harmful algal blooms as well as examination of non-toxic species of marine phytoplankton. Also investigated will be bacterial marine microbes that play a key role in the nitrogen cycle in soils and marine aquatic systems. The second highlighted theme is biomineralization, which examines how organisms such as crustaceans, unicellular phytoplankton and foraminifera initiate and build their external calcified structures. TEM analyses will allow investigation of sub-cellular processes that direct CaCO3 deposition, which is increasingly important as the effect of ocean acidification on marine calcification is becoming a major environmental concern and a focus of national and international research. The third research theme supported by the new TEM is biomedical related research including an investigation into the mechanisms of action of equine herpes virus (EHV) a highly contagious pathogen whose mechanisms of infection and transmission are poorly understood. Neuroscience related research will address the sensory biology of hearing in mammals and movement and swimming in marine invertebrates. In both these research areas the Tecnai will allow the determination of neuronal pathways critical in hearing loss, head orientation and stabilization of visual fields. Finally, the Tecnai will be used to investigate how reaction-diffusion processes control muscle cell design, by combining a detailed ultrastructural analysis of muscle with mathematical modeling of the metabolic and structural demands of red and white skeletal muscle.

The Tecnai G2 Spirit BioTWIN will support a broad portfolio of basic and applied research and, equally important, the Tecnai and supporting facility will also be a cornerstone of the undergraduate curriculum in introductory and advanced cell biology teaching, as well as supporting independent undergraduate and graduate research. The educational benefits will be further extended to pre-college students since the ability to visualize and explore the surface and internal structure of microorganisms, tissues and cells is one of the most powerful experiences that can be provided to students as they are challenged to connect biological concepts to cellular life. Likewise, teachers need effective resources to support their efforts. The Tecnai, together with the associated facilities at UNCW, will enable the Department of Biology and Marine Biology to develop and implement outreach and education activities that are crosscutting, from K-12 through Master?s and Ph.D. Specifically, the UNCW microscopy facility will support a long-standing commitment to outreach including activities that engage K-12 and pre-college students from under-represented communities. These efforts will include developing internship opportunities in high resolution microscopy, summer microscopy workshops and teacher training opportunities. Such activities will be delivered through existing public outreach platforms including the UNCW Center for Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and the Issac Bear Early College High School that is associated with UNCW.


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Velten, B.P., R.M. Dillaman, S.T. Kinsey, W.A. McLellan and D.A. Pabst. "Novel locomotor muscle fiber design in extreme deep-diving whales," Journal of Experimental Biology, v.216, 2013, p. 1862. 

Perez, J.H.; Wingfield, J.C.; Ramenofsky M. "The effects of Methimazole treatment on vernal migration, in White-crowned Sparrows," Integrative and Comparative Biology, v.53, 2013, p. E351.

Campion, A.; Hwee, D.; Baehr, L.; Németh, Z.; Bodine, S.; Ramenofsky, M. "Comparative study of the oxidative metabolism in skeletal muscle of migratory and nonmigratory White-crowned Sparrows," Integrative and Comparative Biology, v.53, 2013, p. E257.


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