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Simon C. Watkins, Ph.D.

Researcher Interviews

Simon C. Watkins, Ph.D.

Professor and Vice Chairman of the Dept. of Cell Biology
Director and Founder of the Center for Biologic Imaging
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA


Please briefly summarize your research.

My research spans probe development, immunology and advanced light microscopy

How many imaging systems do you have in your facility?

About 29 total. The Nikon systems include seven sweptfields*, a multiphoton, a point-scanning confocal, a SIM, a STORM, and several additional upright and inverted widefield systems.

When did you purchase your first Nikon microscope?

I purchased my first Nikon microscope in 1991. It’s an FXA model with fluorescence and DIC. It still works.

What do you consider are some of the outstanding aspects of Nikon systems?

I like that there is a single, unified software interface for all the devices. In addition, the open nature of NIS-Elements enables one to add extra devices very simply. For example, any TTL-device such as filter wheels or pumps that can interface with NIDAQ can be controlled by Elements. This capability is very useful for advanced imaging applications. There are also some Nikon devices that just work very well such as the Perfect Focus.

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This image was reproduced with permission of Journal of Cell Science. From Qian, W., Choi, S., Gibson, G.A., Watkins, S.C., Bakkenist, C.J., and Van Houten, B. JCS, 2012, 125: 5745-5757, doi: 10.1242/​jcs.109769

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Which system do you use the most for your personal research and why?

A Ti-E with sweptfield confocal*, TIRF, high-speed cameras, and a multi-fiber Agilent laser launch. It has 32 BNC cables. All of my experiments require very fast imaging. Acquisition rates are routinely hundreds to thousands of frames per second. By using Elements with TTL control, there is no time delay. NIS-Elements provides the flexibility to control multiple devices, at will, concurrently, and at high speed. My experiments would be impossible to carry out without this capability.

*Sweptfield confocal is a discontinued product and exempt from Nikon Corporation Customer service.

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This movie clip is a three-time loop sequence.


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