Research Statement

In 2012 I completed a Ph.D. in Vision Science, under the supervision of Dr. Donald T. Miller at Indiana University. My research focused on high-resolution functional imaging of the living human retina. In particular, I worked on the development of two adaptive optics retina cameras, designed primarily for strutctural imaging, and devised techniques for probing cellular function in single cone photoreceptors. Currently I am working on two projects: phase-sensitive applications of optical coherence tomography, capable of measuring nanometer-scale morphological changes in retinal cells; and techniques for imaging dim retinal structures, i.e. structures whose reflectance is at or below the sensitivity threshold of the imaging systems.

Research Experience

In 2007, I published the first reports of stimulus-evoked changes living human photoreceptors. To date, that study is unique in demonstrating optical changes in the cones occurring during the activation (hyperpolarization) of cones in response to visible stimuli. In 2010 and 2012, I published two papers showing that the process of outer segment renewal could be measured in living cones, a process that had never been observed in vivo, and never directly observed in cones–living or ex vivo. The measurements presented in those two publications were taken using adaptive optics (AO), with flood illumination and optical coherence tomography (OCT), respectively.

As a post-doc in Jack Werner’s lab at UC Davis I have been working a number of projects. First, I used AO-OCT to investigate a controversy surrounding the origin of one of the bright bands seen in clinical OCT images. Those results were published in Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Science in 2014. I have spent the lion’s share of my time developing the two AO-OCT systems in the lab. I redesigned the AO sub-systems and wrote new software for AO control. I also developed a high-throughput, automated OCT post-processing system for AO-OCT experiments. Theses systems are being used to study the effects of age-related macular degeneration on cone outer segments.

Software Engineering

Prior to my Ph.D. studies, for five years I worked in Dr. Miller’s lab as a scientific software engineer. During those years I gained critical skills in designing and implementing scientific software for instrumentation, data acquisition, analysis, and visualization. I developed large applications and packages, using Python, C++, and MATLAB. I now find these skills to be indespensible. I rely on them in everything I do in the lab: collecting and analyzing data, assisting labmates with computational problems, simulating optical and physiological systems, and even designing experiments. In those years I also learned rudimentary optical design and practical skills for modifying and maintaining an optical system, such as light budgeting and alignment.