Hari Shroff

Who Am I?

In addition to being an MBL Fellow, I am a senior investigator at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) within the intramural research programs of the NIH. I’ve been at the NIH since 2009 (when I started my lab) – before this I did my undergraduate degree in Bioengineering at the University of Washington, my PhD in Biophysics at UC Berkeley with Jan Liphardt, and a postdoc at HHMI’s Janelia Farm Research Campus with Eric Betzig. In addition to spending my summers at MBL doing research and teaching in the neurobiology course I also direct the ‘Optical Microscopy in the Biomedical Sciences’ course with Bob Hard in the fall.

What do I do?

I am passionate about improving the performance (speed, resolution, gentleness) of light microscopy for live imaging of biological samples – particularly in cell biology, neuroscience, and development. Since starting my own lab I’ve focused on improving two core technologies: light sheet microscopy (for long term, volumetric imaging) and structured illumination microscopy (for high speed super-resolution imaging). One of my more recent interests has been in using computational methods to enhance or improve the images produced by the microscopes I build – and to more fundamentally combine computation with the hardware to improve the overall imaging system.

I also have a strong interest in using the systems I develop to study neurodevelopment in nematode embryos. Along with Daniel Colón-Ramos (Yale), Zhirong Bao (Sloan Kettering) and Bill Mohler (University of Connecticut), I am involved in the creation of a digital neurodevelopmental atlas in the nematode C. elegans (see www.wormguides.org).

Why do I come to the MBL?

There are too many reasons to list! But here are some important ones. First, it allows me to put new microscopes through an array of biological samples that often ‘break’ the microscopes. Experiencing and thinking about these failures is an essential part of improving the technology – and the rate of failure at MBL is unlike any other place I’ve been. Second, I come in the summers to collaborate with Patrick La Rivière (on applying methods of solving inverse problems to microscopy) and Daniel Colón-Ramos (to apply the microscopes towards studying neurodevelopment). We are able to get a disproportionate amount of stuff done in a short amount of time working intensely, in person. Third, the density of biologists is so high that unexpected discoveries often pop up when throwing a sample on the scopes. Although I cannot predict with certainty what will transpire, something inevitably does.

What do I plan to do/work on at the MBL

In the short term, Patrick and I have a number of technical projects that we will be refining, particularly for improving microscopy in thick samples. Likewise, Daniel and I are in the midst of trying to track the positions of all neurons in the growing embryo – some of this work will be done at MBL. In the longer term, we are interested in deploying more of our high resolution microscopes at MBL, so that others may use them year-round.

More information:

See Hari’s website: https://www.nibib.nih.gov/about-nibib/staff/hari-shroff