A mini-project to map the hearing capability of zebrafish won Adelaide-based PhD student Mengke Han third prize at global neurophotonics summer school that brought some the world’s brightest minds together in Quebec, Canada in June.
Mengke represented Australia at the Frontiers in Neurophotonics Summer School, where researchers and students spent 10 days discovering the latest advances in live cell optical imaging techniques.
With a focus on the up-close workings of the nervous system, the school combined tutorials and hands-on experiments, delivered by experts in photonics and neuroscience.
“We used a relatively new and very powerful imaging technique called two-photon microscopy, to map the brain and neurons of living zebrafish,” Mengke says.
“Zebrafish are small and transparent so they are a convenient species to study in the lab.
“But everything we learn about zebrafish ear development and function, can be applied to human medicine. We can even test human genes in a zebrafish to see what influence they might have on hearing problems.”
With an undergraduate degree in biology and a master’s in physics, Mengke’s current PhD research looks at the development of voltage-sensitive nanoparticles for real-time monitoring of brain activity.
She is based at the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS), School of Physical Sciences, the University of Adelaide. She is also member of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP).