The UCA Department of Biology received a National Science Foundation grant in June 2002 to equip the facilities with a confocal laser scanning microscope (CLSM). This system provides the new means for research in biochemistry, cell biology and neuroscience for faculty and students.
Various avenues of research include studies of the neural networks in mammalian brains, monitoring intracellular pH in cancer cells, and tracking mitochondrial proteins in yeast and slime mold. Visiting researchers from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences have been studying effects of ethanol on early neural development. As of spring 2005 we have started working with the “Saturdays with SEM” program to introduce high school students and educators to confocal microscopy. Here, visitors spend the day working with both the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and the CLSM. During the day, they are taught the principles microscope operation and are allowed to visualize samples with the equipment.