Humans rely on cone photoreceptors for perception of color and high acuity vision, so my research focuses on a relatively new animal model: the thirteen-lined ground squirrel (13-LGS) which has a cone-rich retina. I am currently working on developing and validating new retinal imaging tools which are optimized for the 13-LGS including an adaptive optics (AO) scanning light ophthalmoscope which allows us to visualize individual photoreceptors in living squirrels [PubMed], image processing and analysis algorithms for AO images [PubMed], and an optical coherence tomography-angiography system.
While searching for graduate schools and potential PI’s, I looked for so called “damp labs”, or labs that strike a balance between benchwork (wet) and computer work (dry), because of my experience in a biomolecular chemistry lab with Dr. Anjon Audhya, and my love for computer programming. Despite being intrigued by the physics of light, I had never considered a lab focused on the eye, and came to MCW thinking I would do something with fMRI. However, after learning about the development of a potential optogenetics project in a cone-dominant rodent model, I decided to rotate with Dr. Joe Carroll. In a short amount of time, I gained an appreciation for the eye and was impressed at the collective vigor of the field of ophthalmology. I joined the lab on May 4, 2015.