When undergraduate Caroline Pritchard had the chance to spend a week in the MBL Embryology course in 2016, she wasted no time! Two videos she made while at MBL won scientific imaging contests in 2019. Below, she describes capturing the video that won a 2019 BioArt Video award from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB).
By Caroline Pritchard
As an undergraduate at Lehigh University, I was invited to take part in the MBL Embryology course as a Society for Developmental Biology Choose Development! Fellow. I joined in the course’s arthropod module, led by Nipam Patel (now also director of the MBL).
During the course I made this video, below, of an unidentified shrimp — a marine arthropod that I caught off the Eel Pond dock one night using a flashlight and a beaker taped to a yard stick. (I actually have a video of the eels swimming in the pond while I was collecting samples!) This video won a 2019 BioArt Video award from FASEB.
To get the video, I first had to break down the hard chitinous exoskeleton of the shrimp, so its tissue would be permeable to immunohistochemical antibodies and dyes (I was lucky to hit the “Goldilocks zone” and not turn it into mush). I incubated the sample with a few different antibodies to highlight cytoskeletal elements, cell membrane, and cell nuclei, in the hopes of revealing basic internal structures and body plan. Antibodies often aren’t made with specificity to Drosophila (fruit flies; an arthropod widely used in research), so having strong specific binding to this unknown arthropod was a nice surprise.
Leica was installing a new SP8 confocal microscope for the MBL Physiology course the same week I prepared this sample. They were kind enough to train me how to use the scope as they were setting it up, and my slides contained the first samples ever imaged on this machine. I got to use the scope nearly exclusively for a few days and the Leica representatives and technicians got pretty cool samples to test out.
I made the most of my visit by dipping my toes into developmental biology using novel research organisms, which complemented my background as a fly-pusher. My time and training at Woods Hole has innovated every aspect of my lab work since.
Also during the Embryology course, I made a video of squid chromatophores (pigment cells) using a Zeiss teaching stereo dissecting microscope. This video won an honorable mention in the Nikon Small World in Motion Competition. The squid became an impromptu midnight study subject for some of us in Embryology after we got our hands on some samples from the Physiology course!