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Eduardo Hirata Miyasaki: Graduate Student

Electrical and Computer Engineering
Degree Program: 
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Mexico City
Undergraduate Institution: 
UC Santa Cruz
Graduate Institution: 
UC Santa Cruz
Sara Abrahamsson

What brought you to UC Santa Cruz?

I participated in a two week cancer research program here at UCSC before applying to colleges and I thought, wow, this is different. Especially coming from a big city. It was nice to have a change in scenery and I fell in love with the campus and the nature. It’s so clean and there are animals. There aren't as many opportunities for research in Mexico where I'm from, so coming here, I’m with cutting-edge researchers, professors, faculty. You can use all this lab equipment that I didn’t even know existed. So doing research here is a privilege and I’m very happy about it. 

Tell us about your research

I’m working on a multifocus microscope that is able to capture 3D images. We can capture a lot of 2D images of different depths or focal planes of a sample or organism that we’re looking at and we can look at it all at once. With most conventional microscopy techniques you can look at the image of only one plane at the same time and you have to move your sample and scan through that sample. But in this case we get all the information at once.

This technique can be used on a live sample which is really good because as biologists we don’t want to change the organism when we’re studying it. Other microscoping techniques you can go up to about 80 frames per second recording and with ours you can go up to 140 frames per second and that allows us to see fast-changing events.

We’re currently collaborating with Dr. Jennifer Morgan at the Marine Biology Laboratory and we have a couple other collaborators in mind. We’re also getting a lot of help from the Biology Department and another collaborator from UC Davis. They give us the biology samples. It’s very interesting because it gets very interdisciplinary.

How did you become interested in microscopy?

As an undergrad I was focused on the electronics side. I worked with Ali Yanik to develop what they call a point of care diagnostic system which is miniaturized lab equipment laboratories to a textbook sized device so it can be more affordable and accessible.

I really wanted to study neurons and neurobiology and one of the main problems in neurobiology and understanding how the brain works, it’s pretty much observing the way the brain behaves and developing those tools was one of my goals and this multifocus microscope gets us access to all the information simultaneously and the triggering of these neurons is really fast so if we can capture it all at once we can keep track of which connections were made and where the activity is coming from. It wasn’t possible before so it’s going to give a new perspective to biologists.

Tell us about the conference you presented at in London

The Focus on Microscopy conference is one of the biggest conferences for optics. It’s a three day conference in which there’s a lot of speakers and keynote speakers, all the normal conference stuff. We talked about what we’ve done over the past year and since it’s a variation from the previous mutifocus system, they were very interested in the design. It was a really great opporunity.