Lighting Up the Oceans: Real-Time Ocean Observation With Silicon Photonic
Jennifer Dionne, sr. assoc. vice provost for research platforms/shared facilities, assoc. professor of materials science and engineering
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What organisms only comprise 1% of the global plant biomass, but are responsible for 50% of global photosynthetic activity and over half of the world’s oxygen production? The answer is phytoplankton - microscopic organisms that are key players in ocean and freshwater ecosystems. Due to climate change, phytoplankton distributions are shifting, not only influencing the marine food web but also leading to increased blooms and biotoxin production that can harm humans and wildlife, contaminate water sources, and damage local economies. Join Professor Dionne to learn about the latest research and technology developments, such as in-situ, highly miniaturized sensors based on silicon photonic chips, that detect millions of gene fragments, proteins, and metabolites in biological samples. Plus, learn about an autonomous robotic water sampler developed at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) for real-time phytoplankton, environmental DNA, and toxin detection and analysis.
Professor Dionne’s is a sculptor of light at the nanoscale. She develops methods to observe and control molecular processes with light, emphasizing critical challenges in global health and sustainability. Her research has developed culture-free methods to detect pathogens and their antibiotic susceptibility; amplification-free methods to detect nucleic acids and proteins; new methods to image light-driven chemical reactions with atomic-scale resolution; and new materials that enable negative refraction and invisibility cloaks. She perceives outreach as a critical component of her role as an educator and frequently collaborates with visual and performing artists to convey the beauty of science to the broader public. Her work has been recognized with the Alan T. Waterman Award - the highest US award for scientists under 40, a NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Her work was also featured on Oprah’s list of “50 Things that will make you say ‘Wow’!”.
Please visit the Dionne Group and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering webpages to learn more. You can also follow Jennifer Dionne @jendionne, the Dionne Group @Dionne_Group, and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering @StanfordMSE on Twitter.