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The Advanced Imaging Center offers a unique, postdoc-equivalent training program that is specifically designed for candidates aiming to have a successful career as an application scientist or in a managerial role in core facilities.

Vision of the Fellowship Program

Recent advances have vastly increased the complexity of quantitative microscopy experiments, with many new technologies requiring specialized expertise to operate successfully. This has turned imaging scientists into essential and integral members of any research community. Microscopy facilities are now mostly managed by PhD-level scientists who provide technical consultations on experimental design and sample preparation, as well as user-training on microscope operation. Many of these scientist-managers also have unique opportunities to provide advanced data analysis and apply for instrumentation grants at the federal level. Taken together, core facility management has become one of the fastest growing careers in bioscience. Yet, there is a paucity of positions offering training that integrates technical/scientific guidance with the business and managerial skills needed to run a successful core facility. The latter is an important aspect to which most scientists are not sufficiently exposed in their training.

The Advanced Microscopy Fellowship program at the AIC is a 2-year term position tailored to address this gap in training. The AIC director and staff are dedicated to providing training to early career Ph.D. scientists in advanced quantitative microscopy techniques, data handling and image analysis, while also providing key skills needed to manage a large, international core facility. The ideal candidate should have a focused career goal of becoming an integral part of a shared imaging center in the future. The Fellow will learn to provide technical consultation to users in applying appropriate techniques to a wide range of biological specimens, and how to strategize quantitative approaches to imaging. The Fellow also has the opportunity to customize additional training to match their interests. This can include organizing and teaching microscopy lectures and workshops; organizing microscopy discussion groups/journal clubs; developing protocols for testing equipment performance; designing and/or implementing novel or custom imaging or analysis techniques. The Fellow will also have superb opportunities to establish contact with visiting scientists from all over the world, paving the way for a successful career path.

The Training Experience

  • Providing technical consultation to prospective applicants to the AIC prior to proposal submission.

  • Serving on the AIC Technical Review Panel to review the feasibility and technical justification of the submitted proposals.

  • Collaborating with users to understand the objectives and requirements of their scientific imaging needs, planning for effective visits to the AIC.

  • Coordinating with Janelia shared resources and other ancillary support divisions to facilitate sample shipments into the AIC. 

  • Working hands-on with users to prepare, fix, label, mount, and image samples, often involving multiple iterations of optimization and evaluation.

  • Analyzing samples and approaches to evaluate technical suitability of AIC systems.

  • Preparing application-specific tools and techniques to enable imaging, analysis, and data representation to meet user needs.

  • Operating and maintaining AIC microscopes for the benefit of users.

  • Optimizing microscope configurations for a wide variety of imaging applications and samples.

  • Interpreting microscopy results to propose and perform subsequent experiments and procedures.  This will involve a combination of software analysis tools, collaboration with users, and intuition developed through training and experience in biological imaging.

  • Uniquely, fellows will also have the opportunity to design and lead international microscopy workshops and other outreach activities.

Our fellows share their experiences

Michael Reiche, PhD

The Advanced Microscopy Imaging Fellowship was a life-changing opportunity for me. Beyond being exposed to and learning about optics, microscopy, biology, and image analysis as well as working with visiting scientists, the AIC fellowship position also allowed me to pursue more personal projects. Through my training, which included organizing and hosting a microscopy workshop, I was able to founder the Imaging Africa workshop—a pan-continental workshop for life scientists across Africa. This workshop has directly led to the formation of the African BioImaging Consortium, a community initiative dedicated to facilitating microscopy education and instrument accessibility—continuing the ethos of the AIC in promoting open science and enabling microscopy research. Ultimately, it was the freedom afforded by the position and the guidance available at the AIC that allowed for small dreams to become very large realizations.

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Chad Hobson, PhD

The Advanced Microscopy Fellowship at the AIC has been foundational in my growth as a scientist and as a person. This position has allowed me to master and help develop several cutting-edge microscopes, ranging from simultaneous multiview systems to light sheet microscopes with adaptive optics. Beyond this, I have received extensive training specifically tailored towards developing skills necessary for directing an imaging facility, such as working with vendors and writing shared instrument grants. The fellowship at the AIC has also given me the chance to lead global outreach initiatives aimed at promoting microscopy in South America. With this joint focus on global outreach, targeted training, and world-renowned microscopy, I have garnered the skills and outlook necessary to pursue a fruitful career in bioimaging.

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Harikrushnan Balasubramanian, PhD

The Advanced Microscopy Fellowship at the AIC has been a golden opportunity for me to develop myself both professionally and personally. I have been trained to use state-of-the-art microscopes for super-resolution and light sheet imaging, strategize data acquisition and analysis, provide technical consultations, and learn other administrative skills as required by the demanding nature of working in a well-run microscopy facility. A unique feature of this position is the ability to customize my training in directions that suit my interests – this has allowed me to pursue a passion project of conducting a global outreach microscopy workshop. With the guidance of the AIC, imaging South-East Asia (iSEA) should be a reality soon! All the hard and soft skills gained from my tenure here will help me succeed in my bioimaging career.