Research Group of Dr William Russin, Northwestern University

Research Group of Dr William Russin, Northwestern University

William Russin is a research assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Physiology at Northwestern University. Dr. Russin has over 20 years of experience doing biological research using a wide variety of imaging techniques. Bill has taught microscopy and digital imaging courses at both the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Madison Area Technical College. Currently Bill manages the Biological Imaging Facility (BIF) at Northwestern University's Evanston campus. In this capacity, Bill works with Catherine Woolley (Director) and Ramona Walsh (Microscopy Specialist) to meet the microscopy and imaging needs of Northwestern’s research community.

Dr. Russin received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Illinois at Chicago and his Ph.D. in the Department of Botany at the University of Wisconsin. He did postdoctoral work in the Department of Human Oncology, Clinical Cancer Center, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Hospital and Clinics and at the Departments of Plant Pathology and Botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2001, Bill started his position as a research assistant professor at Northwestern University.

BIF is a research and training facility that serves the imaging needs of over 400 scientists from 15 different departments. BIF is organized so users can prepare samples, capture and analyze images, and create final presentations in one room. They are continuously looking for new ways to enhance existing equipment, acquire new tools, and keep pace with current techniques. BIF currently has two confocal microscopes, a widefield fluorescence microscope, and a transmission electron microscope.

Dr. Russin writes, “ BIF’s users come from a wide variety of disciplines, so we have to be prepared to handle many different specimen types. Improvision software plays an important role in imaging and analysis in BIF. For example, we use Openlab to drive the widefield microscope, capture images/stacks in both RGB and fluorescence mode, and to automate capture and processing. Openlab is very flexible and has an intuitive interface; it makes user training and microscope system operation much easier. We use several Volocity modules to perform a number of different, complex analyses - from simplifying the calculation of colocalization statistics, to rendering cells growing in gel matrices (Fig. 1), to deconvolving and reconstructing confocal image stacks taken from a mouse cochlea (Fig. 2). In addition to stability and quality of software, one of the best features of Improvision products is the exceptional customer service. Grant Bolwell, our regional representative, has provided us with exemplary support; he has helped with instrument setup and configuration as well as keeping us apprised of new developments. Improvision software has helped us toward our goal of providing the highest quality imaging resource possible.“

A more detailed description of the facility can be found at the BIF web site.

Figure 1. 3D rendering of a fibroblast transfected with GFP-actin (green) in a collagen matrix (red) visualized using confocal reflectance (Image courtesy of J. Pedersen and M. Swartz).

Figure 2. 3D rendering of mouse cochlea outer hair cells labeled with FITC-conjugated anti-prestin (Image courtesy of C. Anderson and P. Dallos).