Skip to content

Michelle Itano (UNC)

Subscribe using your preferred service

About this episode

#34 — Michelle S. Itano is the Director of the Neuroscience Center Microscopy Core at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. In this episode of The Microscopists, cellular biophysicist Michelle tells us about her role as Editor-in-Chief of Biotechniques, the importance of improving staff retention in core facilities, and how being a Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Imaging Scientist has proved both empowering and inspiring. Michelle also reveals more about her fossil-hunting childhood, her love of science fairs, and her “Texan stomach”! Tune in to hear more!

Follow Peter, Michelle, and the UNC Neuroscience Center on Twitter!

Share this to your network:

Sponsored by

Listen now

Watch Now

This is an automated transcript and may not be 100% accurate.

Intro/Outro (00:00:00):
Welcome to The Microscopists, a Bitesize Bio podcast hosted by Peter O’Toole, sponsored by Zeiss Microscopy. Today on The Microscopists.

Peter O’Toole (00:00:13):
Hi, on The Microscopists today, I’m joined by Michelle Itano and we discuss how core facilities help bridge the gap between the people and technology.

Michelle Itano (00:00:23):
Finding the expertise from different ways has been, it is difficult, but also I think what’s kind of fun about the job

Peter O’Toole (00:00:30):
Fossil hunting. As a Kid,

Michelle Itano (00:00:32):
My dad was a trained, theoretical physicist, but his hobby was paleontology

Peter O’Toole (00:00:41):
Obsessive Crafting.

Michelle Itano (00:00:42):
I get kind of obsessed with them. So I can’t start a project., that I’ll like want to do that constantly for the next 72 hours

Peter O’Toole (00:00:50):
And the importance of improving staff retention in core

Michelle Itano (00:00:53):
Facilities, they need to have roles and opportunities for promotion and recognition of great work. And I don’t think those exist currently

Peter O’Toole (00:01:02):
Well in this episode of The Microscopists.

Peter O’Toole (00:01:15):
Hi, and welcome to this episode of The Microscopists on Peter O’Toole from University of York. And today I’m joined by Michelle Itano the University of North Carolina more morning, afternoon. I don’t know what time of day it is, but Michelle. Hello.

Michelle Itano (00:01:29):
Hi, it’s great to see you

Speaker 5 (00:01:30):
Likewise it’s been awhile. Actually. I think I first met you through the facilities meetings, I think. And you were wearing your Chan-Zuckerberg initiative hat at the time I take, do you want to explain exactly what you’re funded by Chan-Zuckerberg initiative? So this is a, or do you want to explain what the foundation does and what they funded you to do?

Michelle Itano (00:01:56):
Sure. I really think it’s a very unique funding opportunity and it’s been honestly very, I’m trying to think of the right word, but it really has changed the way I see that facility jobs have been viewed by many funders and others. So essentially what Chan-Zuckerberg did is they realized that staff are typically underfunded in lots of these facilities. And because of that, we’re not able to contribute to the research goals as much as we would like to. So they put out this call for imaging scientists, and I was funded in the first round of that and they all had to be housed or related to a facility. And you had to have some form of a project that was really career wide, how your job was helping to connect different people from engineers to students, to researchers and figure out a way that we could help move that forward. And so what the grant actually does is fund my entire salary for five years. It’s three years with a renewal time now. So fingers crossed for that one. But it’s really let me hire new staff. So I went from a one person core to a three person core, and that has just multiplied our impact already and make connections globally like this one. And for other facilities and groups like CoRap and the Chan-Zuckerberg, imaging science group as well. ABRF all of those. I feel like it’s enabled us to have more time to contribute to those types of networks.

Peter O’Toole (00:03:41):
So the importance, is you mentioned the staff and the fact that staff, maybe isn’t using in ways at the right level. I think we’ve talked briefly about this very recently. Why do you think so many places are understaffed in there? If you say you can have four or five, six microscopes and not enough staff to actually even train users, to use them, let alone help users to use them.

Michelle Itano (00:04:04):
I think this is such a tricky issue with microscopy because it’s part of what we love about it. That almost anyone has some experience and you can come up and you can see something and you see data, right. But getting from there to being able to really pull out all of the information from it, I think can be something that not everybody appreciates, how difficult that is, especially with large file sizes and things that can impact your image before you even acquire it. And so, because there’s an instant gratification process, I think that it can be confusing to some others when they’re thinking about how to support it, what, what that entails and how intricate the education has to be on what makes the image and the biology, the sample prep that goes into that. And then how much happens after the image is acquired to be able to make sure, make sure that the instruments are available to people that they’re well maintained, but also that the data can become figures and can actually be published and interpreted properly. And so the time that it takes besides just acquiring your image to getting that to something that is a finished product and getting users who are trained is just exponentially larger. And so that requires more time, more experience, more one-on-one and making time for staff to do that, I think can be harder to calculate. It’s not as easy as just saying, this is the hours on the equipment. And so then you’re getting into, you know, how is that consultation time? How is that research impact valued and measured? And when that comes down to dollars for staff salaries, I think that can be a hard equation to calculate,

Peter O’Toole (00:05:54):
Especially maybe because a lot of those staff are lost in the researchers evaluations and missing the fact that there was a lot of support going into lots of different academic impacts for spot underpins. So actually I guess the academics, the users need to be our champions for that to point out. And, and you know, when they’re, when they’re don’t have enough resource, we need them to show, we don’t have enough resource. And when the resource is delivered for them, we need to make sure it’s acknowledged and delivered for them. You say you pan across the engineering and everything else. How’d you find that talking across disciplines to find that challenging because they could be quite different languages across disciplines in the sciences.

Michelle Itano (00:06:41):
Yeah. I mean, I find that I very rarely feel like I’m in the expert in the room, right. In most of the communities I’m in and there’s something that kind of ties all of that together to me where I feel like I’m constantly learning from the people I’m meeting with and either that’s the biology that they’re focusing in, or it’s the engineers, you know, all the intricacies of this camera or that laser. But it’s also a really fun process because I am constantly learning. And so I think that by taking that perspective and knowing that any person I’m speaking to, I have as much to learn from them is maybe what I can contribute, puts me in a different perspective. And so that makes it really fun because I know that I’m not that expert. But I can make connections between them and say, you know, that might be very different. Like we were just talking about people coming in and filming our facilities for outreach opportunities. And I found, I had a lot in common with the videographer and producer because we had we’re dealing with large file sizes. And I was like, how are you doing this? Right? How are you sharing these with people and getting feedback on live videos? And we had a really interesting conversation about that. And so finding that expertise from different ways has been, it is difficult, but also I think what’s kind of fun about the job.

Peter O’Toole (00:08:03):
Okay. Say when it comes to file sizes, did you have a game of one-upmanship to see who had the biggest file size out of a production?

Michelle Itano (00:08:11):
I think he beats me still because I don’t have the light sheet. So well we, we help support those and there is one on campus. That’s about my instrument. So he was like, well, this video of, you know, you all focusing is two gigs. And I was like, okay, fine. But that wins

Peter O’Toole (00:08:31):
I remember getting into a lab meeting once and one of my staff, so I said, oh, Pete, we’re going to have to look at data because that, that last data set, we just took off. It was a hundred gigabytes. And I laughed because the other postdoc in the lab at the time said, oh, what do you mean my over weekend one is four terabytes. It’s like, oh gosh, they’ve just, they haven’t just gone up tenfold. They’ve gone up a hundred fold almost overnight. Fortunately the instrument that was doing the terabyte per run that crunch it’s data right down and much more manageable. That was a label-free phase focus live site system was going to be hungry on data. Whereas now it’s all real time process. It’s really much smaller. So you said, you’re not, you’d never feel like you’re the expert in the room, but you know, we’re never going to be the expert when you’ve got a scientist, who’s really gating their engineering, the biologists really gating their biology. They’re the experts there. But again, they would look at you and think who, but we’re not expert in microscopy, but I would say you’re not only you are an expert in the room, but you’re also the bridge. I think that’s really important. I think core facilities are a really important bridge between different even just life science and life scientist or engineer and engineer quite often, it’s they come together at the microscope or with other core technologies. So you must like that. Surely.

Michelle Itano (00:09:58):
Yeah. And it’s my PhD advisor used to see all of these tools being built. And he was like, you know, one of our biggest challenges is where do we point that? Right. And it feels like that’s kind of our job every day is, you know, somebody will come in with an idea, but we have to pick the instrument, that’ll work best to get that goal or to refine it. And that I find really fun. It is. Or even sometimes data they’ve already required and how can we really make that useful? And seeing something where they’re like, I had no idea we could measure it that way. Right. And kind of creatively pushing the data to its limits or the instrument. I find that to be really fun. That is true.

Peter O’Toole (00:10:40):
Pushing an instrument to, to find the breaking point. Isn’t always the best because when you get to the, and that’s really demoralizing, it’s like, no, anyway, so what, what got you into this? If I take you back now to when you were really, really young, so I know you sent some pictures,

Michelle Itano (00:10:58):
I like a lot of pictures. I sent, yeah,

Peter O’Toole (00:11:00):
This is you with archeological artifacts.

Michelle Itano (00:11:03):
So my dad was a trained, theoretical physicist, but his hobby was paleontology. And so growing up and actually even while my mother was pregnant with me they would go on fossil hunts and we just went on one with now, with my son and my, my dad as well. So that was what we used to do growing up. And we would go to rocket mineral shows. And so my sister and I would do displays of the, the fossils that we would find. And sometimes they were rocks and minerals or, or shells as well. So that was my first scientific presentation, but it, it did kind of start early in our house and was really fun. And it’s fun to see that now go multi-generational

Peter O’Toole (00:11:49):
So, so when you were really young, what did you want to be?

Michelle Itano (00:11:53):
Oh that a great question. So when I was really young, I wanted to be a family practice, private practice doctor, because one of my friend’s parents, that’s what they were. And I had learned, I had been interested in helping people and I was told, oh, then be a doctor. Right. and I liked that. And they had told me that they were private practice, which meant that they kind of were also their own business owners and got to determine things in their own way. And I thought that sounded cool. And so that was kind of stuck in my head for a long time. That that was going to be my goal. Probably until I wanted to be an astronaut, but They were one size fits all. I don’t know if you even saw the women who were doing the space walks and they didn’t have the suits that were the right size. So it’s still an issue, sadly. But I did get to the point where I looked that up. There’s a slight range, but not huge. Yeah. Because you also have to fit in that. It’s like a jet fighter pilot thing. You can’t be too tall or you’ll run into the commands on the top.

Peter O’Toole (00:13:03):
I I’m just looking through, cause I’m sure there’s a photo of you or this is for your wedding, I think just to give an idea of height.

Michelle Itano (00:13:12):
Yeah. Four 10. So not tall. Yeah. Although for my family, if there’s one up there of me and my family actually quite tall for my family. But yeah, it’s all relative

Peter O’Toole (00:13:28):
To go sift through the photos you’d actually say, so this actually is quite interesting because obviously, so this is your, your mother and father.

Michelle Itano (00:13:39):
Yes. Yeah. So my sister has always been one who I look up to an incredible amount. She’s six and a half years older and actually in the UK now. So sh they’re living in London but had been in South Africa and Greece and she’s the Explorer in our family and I just love her bravery, but yeah. And what did they do? My mom and dad,

Peter O’Toole (00:14:03):
You obviously got the two other pictures as well. So it’s one of a newspaper cutting with you. You climbing over a fence.

Michelle Itano (00:14:10):
Thank you. That was my high school science mentor. She’s amazing. Lois Abbott who had her children and then went back and got her PhD and started running a lab on dresoftlow wing development and genetics and developmental biology. And she let me, as a high school student literally gave me keys to the lab and do research. And so when I graduated from high school we did a senior scrapbook and her page for me was like a scientific poster. And so that’s what that one is. And she wrote it for me going away to college but in a scientific poster format. So I loved that. That’s

Peter O’Toole (00:14:52):
Super cool. And I presume the other one is a science exhibition.

Michelle Itano (00:14:57):
Yeah. So I was a science fair kid. I have not yet watched the documentary. I’ve heard it’s a little too close to home, but did the international science fair in high school and even middle school growing up and started, I think in elementary school doing science fairs. And I just loved it and loved the honestly interacting at that point. It was a lot with my parents and later then with Dr. Abbott but getting it to communicate to the public and to my peers. And it didn’t really matter what it was to me. But I did love that element of science early on and had a lot of opportunities in Boulder growing up to, to share science that way.

Peter O’Toole (00:15:40):
So you took on science at quite an early age. So you obviously found your passion for science very early after fossilling and moving into. So you’ve undergraduate was in Washington.

Speaker 4 (00:15:53):
Yeah. So that was Washington University in St. Louis. so in the Midwest and I hadn’t spent much of any time there before, but found that it aligned really well with my personality. It was a lot of access to opportunities. And I would say internally competitive, everybody was very driven, but not as much external competition. And I really liked that it was a very supportive environment to study in and I did archeology and biology. And at the time was really convinced. I really, at that time, didn’t want to be a medical doctor, but wanted to focus in research, but archeology always had a bit of my heart. And maybe part of that was the paleontology background too, but I loved actually, you know, physically discovering something in the dirt. And so that was really fun. And a good double major and possibly the hardest physical work I’ve ever done. Yeah,

Peter O’Toole (00:16:52):
Actually this is you working in the dirt

Michelle Itano (00:16:54):
That, that was a dig. My seed maybe summer after my junior year. And it was in Louisiana and had the biggest poison Ivy I’ve ever seen. You had to walk around with the a shovel and machete to make sure that the snakes, you know, you scared away the snakes before you walked through the field and everything.

Peter O’Toole (00:17:15):
So in the next picture, which is worth actually watching the YouTube, if you’re listening to it that poison ivy, snakes in this picture,

Michelle Itano (00:17:27):
I was, I honestly have never worked so hard, right. It was up with the sun hiking through digging through dirt, if it was raining. This was our lunch break. And my my advisor who I still keep in contact with still uses this to recruit people to the dig. And I was like, I’m not sure that that’s that recruiting, but it was so much fun. It was also physically exhausting, but I felt like I really put everything into it. So when I think sometimes that these days are hard, I think back to that time, and it gives me a bit of perspective,

Peter O’Toole (00:18:02):
Like digging around to work out what you wanted to do as a future. No doubt, a bad joke. Sorry.

Michelle Itano (00:18:09):
There’s lots of good ones with archeology

Peter O’Toole (00:18:12):
From, so you had the archeology, you had the life sciences, but then you went on to do a PhD. And that was in,

Michelle Itano (00:18:19):
That was in cell biology.

Peter O’Toole (00:18:21):
So those, I guess you had to choose at some point, so you chose a cell biology over the archeology at that point.

Michelle Itano (00:18:27):
I did. And I that was not a smooth choice for me. So I was convinced coming out of Washington, which was doing the thousand dollar genome and the sequencing era. And I’d come from soft led genetics. I was convinced that I was going to do a developmental biology. I loved genetics, and that was the next big step for me. And so I actually went to a biology department because we weren’t doing umbrella programs as much at the time. And I did my rotations in all developmental models. And at some point I had to take a hard reverse. I loved the questions and I didn’t feel confident doing it to me, putting things in that big of a picture in context, just wasn’t where my brain was. And so I had had some lectures on biophysics, which I hadn’t really been introduced to as an undergraduate. And I did a hard reverse, and I was like, I’m going to do single molecules because that I can measure, I can describe, I can feel confident about, and I’ll let others make those connections to development and time and organs. So I actually switched departments from biology to cell biology to join my thesis lab and had the support of an incredible mentor Ken Jacobson. And he was amazing. And I look back at so many different steps he did to help connect me to people, including core facilities send me to work in other people’s labs and really let me just discover what, where my passion was. So that ended up being closer to the optics and the single molecule side. And that was a time when all those single molecule methods were also really being developed and coming out of incredible labs as well at the time. So

Peter O’Toole (00:20:21):
Yeah, take them from where you were there to know you’re still involved in research, but you’ve taken on the Chan-Zuckerberg initiative, which is probably less about research, more about the connections and networking. Why, why almost taken a step sideways step is still in research, but not direct research. Why that sideway step is this?

Michelle Itano (00:20:46):
No, definitely. And that’s what I’ve tried to explain. I’ve been asked this by a lot of trainees too, is they’re considering different career paths. And to me it took a lot more self-reflection I think I had been so driven to the tenure track and it took actually getting the application ready to send in and finally feeling confident that I had a good application that I felt like I could build a research program if that was my goal. And then realizing that the day-to-day was not what I thought would bring me that much fulfillment that while I was interested in that research question, I was also interested in a lot of others. And so I started realizing what really got me going each day, and that was talking to people problem-solving troubleshooting. And I was like, what job is that? Right? What, what is that? And the fact that these jobs now exist are building connections that are finding that, how do we get through the bottleneck? I find that to be so exciting and I didn’t have as much exposure to that before. So I didn’t know it was a possibility. And so the fact that I get to do that each day with different audiences with students, with post-docs, with PIs, with engineers is really fun. And I feel like that’s the most common question that I get to spend my meetings on, right, is what is the bottleneck here? And how can we break past that? And that to me is different than if I was just running my own lab. And it, it connects to different types of communities, which I find to be really invigorating too.

Michelle Itano (00:22:26):
So yeah, I’m in the same situation, but I think it’s fascinating. I think we have careers, which is something that, you know, you hear the word technician, you don’t automatically think career, but there are, you know, these are not, you have technicians are all grades and there’s a real career progression you can do. And if you came into a core facility at low, you could, you could work up through that into quite a senior level overtime in the UK, we’ve got something called the technicians commitment and which funders are signing up to attribute. I share the details afterwards that is very much worth looking at. I think they did speak at the facility meetings that we have, but again, this is networking and this doesn’t just happen, you know?

Michelle Itano (00:23:15):
And I think it was actually Ken. So when I was in my post-doc, a job came up at UNC for an imaging core director and he was on the search committee and I reached out and I was like, you know, I’ve always wanted to come back to you and see UNC has had my heart for a long time. I love living here. I love the idea of this university and the collaborative nature. And so that was actually the first time I thought of a core facility job. And I got to interview that was my first professional interview, but it was also a homecoming. And I wasn’t ready. I was two years in, I had actually not ever worked in a core facility besides as a user, but that started conversations with incredible core directors like Alison North, right. Cause I was at Rockefeller University that got deeper than, you know, how do I use this instrument for my uses, but what is this job, right? What, what does this career path look like? And I think that planted a seed. And so it took multiple people being in the right place at the right time to get me to this job here.

Peter O’Toole (00:24:25):
Alison has one of the top jobs out there.

Michelle Itano (00:24:28):
Amazing. She’s so incredible at what she does. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:24:32):
I think it is. Yeah. Fantastic. So actually there’s a good question. Who have you been, who have, who has been, or who maybe one or two, I don’t know, your inspirations in sidet. And then I’ll get to ask the same question, but who have you been inspirations out of work? Yeah.

Michelle Itano (00:24:49):
Yeah. Okay. So that’s good. So I’m going to save, you know, the ones for, out of work. And I think we’ve even talked about this a little bit more, but there’s a lot of my family in that for the ones in this career, it’s almost limitless to me. I’m so inspired by this community, but by the researchers, by the core facility directors, by those making the connections and by those in the funding agencies, but, you know, Alison North was one of the first that I had interacted with in this field and she does it, she contributes to her community and the global community so incredibly. And I think of the cytoskeleton community that I kind of grew up in, in my research field and they continue to be so supportive Enrico Gratton is a lab that I worked in as a graduate student and him and Michelle Digman are incredible. And I’ve used, you know, utilize their expertise, some in core facility and workshop running as in my job now I got to visit Claire Brown’s facility in McGill as a job shadowing, and that was incredible. And now we do these core director kind of joint lab meetings with Paula Montero Llopis at Harvard and Lisa Cameron at duke. And I probably text daily with other core facility directors at UNC and all of that keeps me going. And without that, I don’t know where I’d be without any of them, honestly.

Michelle Itano (00:26:32):
So out of work, it really is my family. I’ve been, I’m a third generation PhD. And so it’s incredible to me to think about the ways that that has shaped me and has shaped the support that I get for what I am stressed or when I am facing a way to try to balance career and life that my family is also ones I can go to with those questions. And they know they have personal experience with the challenges that I’ve faced. And that’s incredible to me, but also, you know, what they came through and how academia has changed in the times. And so, especially for my grandfather, who in order to get his PhD had to leave an internment camp is constantly inspiring to me. And I now keep his photo at my desk, not just to remind me of his presence as an incredible grandfather, but just also what he went through and what kind of education and access to education and how that equates to literal freedom for my family is kind of embedded in this whole role and what I think of as opportunity at a university.

Peter O’Toole (00:27:47):
So this sounds, yeah, if you’re listening to this, you’re thinking cool. You know, you, you just must be work, work, work, and you know, your, your whole family, must’ve been very academically minded and working solid all the time. How do you balance your work and life? You know, you’ve got, you’ve got a young family to yourself. How old are your children?

Michelle Itano (00:28:07):
Eight and four and a half

Peter O’Toole (00:28:09):
To eight and four and a half. So they’re going to demand quite a lot of time. You say, is it very academic? Are you doing lots of academic stuff with it? Or, you know, what’s it like, how’d you balance that?

Michelle Itano (00:28:21):
So that’s one thing I also love about this job is that even though, and it’s the first time I felt that where I could leave the job and it didn’t matter what time it was. But when I finished what I called my work, what followed me was excitement. It wasn’t stress, right? So what I like to say, and it’s not constantly true is that this job is busy, but not stressful. And I do get stressed at times, but in the way it balances with my personal life, it’s been much better. And I’m able to really be home with my kids. I’m able to go to the soccer practices and the dance recitals. And if that’s at 10:00 AM, that’s okay. I can schedule that. And I love that about this. We are sports fanatics. So we love cheering on teams. I’m a big tarhills fan. I was a big Broncos fan, Cardinals from St. Louis soccer fan as well. And I don’t have a huge allegiance. My family, my sister, and brother-in-law are big Gunners fans. So that’s somewhat in there. But I have yet to fully choose an allegiance worldwide, but yeah, loved soccer and it’s been fun to see my child come up through now, club soccer and get into that and play FIFA world cup and, you know

Peter O’Toole (00:29:42):

Michelle Itano (00:29:43):
We do. And I’m still still doing Argentina. That’s still my team. And and then now coaching for the first time my daughter’s soccer, which is three and four year olds. And I’ll tell you that is on a whole other level, but a lot of fun.

Peter O’Toole (00:30:03):
Yeah. I think FIFA, you know, back in the old Sega to PlayStation, one days I could play FIFA and then the controls changed and the buttons changed, children. And you’re thinking, why isn’t that shooting that used to Just do good at here? Just give up and let them play. I’ll play wipeout with them.

Michelle Itano (00:30:31):
The so that’s been really fun in my, my partner does not really enjoy games as much like that. So that’s been something I do with my kids

Peter O’Toole (00:30:40):
Once or twice a year when Ben, myself and my wife, we will take them on a wipeout it’s maybe, Maybe a new year’s Eve typing while you’re waiting for the countdown, we can all engage and take interns to try and beat each other.

Michelle Itano (00:30:53):
I would say we go about once a week almost to a Olympic sporting event at UNC. And that’s something that we really love and that, you know, gets me out of the office at a very specific time. And we sit and we watch baseball or fencing or soccer. I mean, women’s soccer here is huge. But also field hockey and, and things that I don’t know the rules for, but we’ve just loved going. And that’s been really fun. And so I do love that about UNC and that that’s coming back now, at least on the outdoors activities we’ve been going to since the pandemic,

Peter O’Toole (00:31:31):
Like I was going to ask later on, but I lost no. So what hobbies do you do? So you watch sports, play FIFA? What other hobbies do you do? Do you actually do any sports yourself?

Michelle Itano (00:31:44):
So, I mean, not much. I have a colleague who’s plays pickup soccer after I coach my daughter’s game and he’s been trying to get me to come, but that’s been tough with the scheduling. We’ll see. I haven’t actually played for quite a long time. I do love singing, but I’m not a performer. That’s more for like our family. And so lots of the things are still family oriented activities and things that we’re doing with the church or, or otherwise. I do like crafting. And so things like crocheting or knitting or jigsaw puzzles, those are still things that I really enjoy. But I get kind of obsessed with them. So I can’t start a project then I’ll like want to do that constantly for the next 72 hours. So I have to kind of pace it out. So it doesn’t totally overtake things.

Peter O’Toole (00:32:42):
So you mentioned right at the start a bit ago. Yeah. One of the motivations you coming home with work-life balance because you come in home and work is fun and you sent me another picture, which I think illustrates which yourself, a couple of others,

Michelle Itano (00:32:57):
That’s my Team.

Peter O’Toole (00:32:57):
I can’t even make out what the letters are

Michelle Itano (00:33:00):
UNC. Right. Yeah. And the joke Is that I got them, I hired them, both their previous positions were at duke. And so I was, it’s, it’s a bit tongue in cheek too, but I’m really making them into Tarheels as much as I can.

Peter O’Toole (00:33:21):
So this is your new staff then

Michelle Itano (00:33:22):
Yes So that has been since, you know, the funding and it’s just been incredible. And it, it also is just more of a, a fun community to be in, right when you come in and you’re working together as a team. And I think that’s something that has been difficult for other facilities to get support from their institutions to hire more. But there is more than just more hours that you get with more staff. It really is the added benefit of a team working towards common goals.

Peter O’Toole (00:33:52):
So how much time do you get on the microscapes now? If you’ve got two staff that take it to enable you to do stuff possibly away from the microscope, how much time do you get on the microscopes now?

Michelle Itano (00:34:03):
Good question. I’ve had a hard time carving out time for those consultation projects. That’s one thing we’ve learned because the microscopes are so booked. And so now I probably do about on average two trainings a week is probably true. And each of those are two sessions, right? So, you know, what is that, you know, ten-ish hours with a user on the scope. And then, you know, beyond that a few hours a week, just trying to troubleshoot something here and there, but it has gone down. And I do miss that. And I find I get rusty if I don’t get back on there and have to actually acquire something in in, in a shorter period of time,

Peter O’Toole (00:34:51):
That’s like a bicycle. We never get rusty until they change the software. That’s true. And then you’re stuck while we got a new microscope coming in very, very, very soon or being installed. And so I have to be in there just to get familiar with the new software interface. It’ll take an hour confident and I talk about kids the other role so you got a chance I can bug imaging scientist and all the work around that. But you also editor in chief for Bio Techniques, which is a bit, which is a big role.

Michelle Itano (00:35:25):
Yeah. And that’s new. Right. so that just started this past year. But it’s been really fun. It’s been a really great team to work with and it’s let me see science from a different perspective. So I’d always been the one trying to publish or the reviewer. And it’s interesting to see it from the editing side of how do we generate materials that will be most useful to people. How do we reach out to those communities who we think would benefit from this latest study? How do we frame this in a way that will be the most impact and draw and build that community separately. And I’ve seen that a lot more in the publishing world that there’s, you know, more podcasts, there’s web versions, there’s tutorials, right. Things to get that information out, as well as doing the standard print versions that we know people rely upon. Right. And need to have access to. So it’s, it’s been very interesting and really fun, right. To kind of see and interact with people then outside of my particular area of interest. And see it like, okay, well, if I take a step back, imaging is amazing, but what are the other questions we’re facing? And how can I draw that to things that we’re seeing in trainees questions that they constantly have, right. Can get them to the experts.

Peter O’Toole (00:36:49):
Bio Techniques is, is a massive journal sent in the UK. It would land on our desk regularly. It’s one of the few free was free. There’s this land on your desk. And you could look at whatever was put in there, publication wise, but this must be, you must be taken over at a very challenging time though, because there’s an explosion of online. And I mean, an explosion of online journals that are competing and chasing people to publish with them, encouraging them, giving them incentives to publish and the impact factors of some of those that are not, not terrific. And then we’ve got the big journals that are also proliferating into subsets of the, of the big title. And of course, everyone wants to be there because yeah, I do get at the top. So where does this leave Bio Techniques? Because, you know, you’ve got these established ones proliferating down and people here are going to go try by luck here. And you’ve got all these down here, which are exciting and new and don’t have an impact factor necessarily yet. So that’s not so good. I said, well, how, how, how is, how does he go for Bio Techniques? And that must, I don’t envy you coming into that position right now. So it’s a difficult question because I can’t see the by techniques. He’s finally get easy amongst very competitive market at the moment.

Michelle Itano (00:38:16):
Yeah. I’ve been very lucky in that they have made lots of structural structural changes prior to my coming on as editor in chief. So the previous editor in chief was really focused on those structural details. You know, how do we market ourselves? How do we make ourselves competitive? So people will come to us, we’ll keep reading. And lots of that had been more digital content. But also really focusing on the science, what are those science areas that we know need more detail, right? That need that added level of, you know, a specific publication to deal with these specific compilation. And then they brought me in more as a science somebody in the field to make connections between, oh, I saw this person give a talk. Right. And what they’re doing is incredible and may not be published. Like what I saw might not be published yet, but man, if somebody could write a protocol on what they’re doing, that would help everybody. Right. and so while it’s been hard, Bio Techniques has now seen growth in their impact factor, downloads, you know, all of, kind of those metrics. And so I feel like they’ve already kind of pulled themselves through to redefine a little bit and kind of modernize to what trainees and, and people working in the field need now. What I like is that they’re still really open to redefining. And so when I think as a core facility person about increasing the rigor and reproducibility and checklists on the publishing side, they’re open to that. They’re interested in seeing what that means and being responsive. They just changed. They were, I think the first to change the authorship changes where somebody could request a change in their name relevant to their current name, without any other required kind of administrative burden just to more align with their current identities. And then we saw other journals pick that up very quickly. And so I think there’s room for some of those to be made on the broader scale where Bio Techniques has a big enough history and readership that that will then be implemented more fieldwide. And I am excited for that because I see those conversations happening. And I think there will be more of that coming and that, that will improve kind of the whole area of scientific publishing that were kind of immersed in.

Peter O’Toole (00:40:57):
So that’s why we should publish in Bio Technique that’s the sales pitch.

Michelle Itano (00:41:02):
You can

Peter O’Toole (00:41:02):
Add amazing position to get as a very difficult time thinking of publications. What’s your favorite publication that you have ever authored or co-authored on?

Michelle Itano (00:41:15):
Oh, that’s a hard one. It’s so hard to think past like the most recent, right. And I think it’s hard to get past, and I think you were talking about that with your, the moment that, you know, something will be a paper. And then when you finally see it in print, it has been through so many iterations that sometimes it’s hard to muster up quite that same excitement. I mean, it’s hard to beat my very first paper because that one felt so personal. Right. and it was three different techniques. So it was quantum dot tracking. It was frap and it was single molecule localization. And I loved that each one had to be acquired on a totally different system analyzed totally differently, honestly, with another mentor involved. And so it took forever to get it right, but it really, for me emphasized how interconnected each of the methods are. And so we’re one is limited. The other one can come in with a complimentary viewpoint. And so I still love that paper. It’s hard for me to read again, because again, it was a difficult creation, but I love it. And then I think of the most recent one too, which I really do love, which was another real collaborative venture.

Peter O’Toole (00:42:44):
I’m glad you said you for that first paper that you did use three different things. I was thinking, how on earth would you do Frap? We quantum dots. That’s just, that’s just not going to, I would say it would be a blinking nuisance, but they were really good at blinking.

Michelle Itano (00:43:02):
Great at blinking. Right. I still love that as a one of the names of the techniques. I still refer to blink because to me that’s immediately, it’s not an acronym. It just is. And so I still am a little bit preferential to that term for a technique.

Peter O’Toole (00:43:20):
I, I, we, haven’t done a huge amount of quantum dots. I remember testing the, I think it’s testing the, the five live from Zeiss years ago. And we had quantum dots on there and the movie, it was just like looking at a twinkling night’s sky. We just put single quantum dots down and we were seeing the single, single quantum dots and they were just blinking on and off and twinkling and you had somewhere there’s the double. And so it, wasn’t going completely dark and lost that movie and such, you know what I need to recreate here. I’ve got the she’ll be able to do it with eLira. Yes.

Michelle Itano (00:43:53):
Chemically and physically. They’re just so cool, right. That, that these things exist, but we’ll never bleach and can be activated along such a huge spectra. And I just, I do love that and I love how it ties into the biology too. And you’re thinking, wait, but this is tethered somehow. What is that doing? And yeah,

Peter O’Toole (00:44:16):
We are our Christmas challenge actually at the lab,

Michelle Itano (00:44:19):

Peter O’Toole (00:44:23):
Just before one Christmas. And that was really good, fun. We didn’t need stuff. We had a technique that would give stuff again. That was really cool to try that. So we can’t do it and recasting stuff and it works a dream out of the box, like, wow, brilliant. But yeah, I think let’s get some twinkling lights going for

Michelle Itano (00:44:41):
Christmas holidays. That sounds perfect.

Peter O’Toole (00:44:43):
Which would be really good. What would you say has been the most difficult times of your career so far? I’ll tell you so far, you’re not even halfway through your career, but so far what’s been most challenging time.

Michelle Itano (00:44:58):
Oh, that’s a great question. I think for me, I was very unsure about leaving quote unquote, the tenure track and leaving my postdoc for a job that I thought I would love, but I hadn’t worked in before. And I had lots of hopes and expectations, but I also knew I was going into it alone. I didn’t have a staff. I didn’t have, you know, I had some other core directors to rely on, but it was different. It wasn’t working directly with. And so I think that was hard for me. And it was a new redefining that identity and coming back to an institution where I had an identity as a student and redefining that then as a professional and a more permanent role, I think all of that kind of hitting at the same time I had a new baby, I moved and moved jobs, right. Like all three hit at the same time. And that was hard, but also, you know, looking back on like, okay, we got through that and it took longer than I thought, I think I’d given my mind like a year and it will get easier. And it really was more like two to three.

Peter O’Toole (00:46:13):
It’s actually, it’s got easier.

Michelle Itano (00:46:17):
It has. Yeah. And you know, maybe part of that is that I have more staff, I have more people. Right. but I also feel like I’ve, some of those relationships are stronger now. Right? Some of them I had to build and it took more energy to kind of activate and get that started. Now, I feel like there’s a little bit more where if I don’t invest in it every week or things like that, or every day for certain relationships that there’s a little bit more leeway there, more trust that’s been built that lets me expand in ways where now I am more unsure and kind of pull back and readjust. Whereas before I felt like it was just going as much as I possibly could.

Peter O’Toole (00:47:05):
The last developed, you’ve got more staff, the technology is always changing across all the different platforms in, in, across the sciences. You know, the mass specs are constantly developing the sensitivity. The speed is improving to Genomics. We don’t single cell it’s pushing the edges. Yeah. Microscopy is always developing cytometry, more colors, more lasers spectrum coming into that now. But for the microscopy core that you have, how big a stress is it that, you know, your users are happy with what you have today. Tomorrow. There’s a whole new technology that if you want to look deeper, understand more, you know, it’s quite good at the moment you have a blurred background and you know that that’s a standard fluorescent microscope. And here I I’m sitting in a confocal with microscope. You can see my background. It’s all sharp. You can’t see what’s on the pictures. And then the next microscope enables you to see what’s in the pictures themselves. And so your users are always going to want that extra bit because then you can understand it to a greater depth and suddenly the blurred background then isn’t good enough. So how big a stress is that and how, how UNC is out supported, you have to apply for grants to funding to get it are the philanthropic donors. How do you deal with the expectations of getting you a quick equipment and how big a stress is it getting new equipment?

Michelle Itano (00:48:35):
I think that’s what I mean in the survey I got asked by our university administration that oversees the cores and they said, what is your biggest challenge? Getting funding to get state-of-the-art equipment? Was it and has been at since I’ve been here for exactly the reasons you say, right? And because it is such a large investment, right? It’s not something that I can just piece together from user fees. I mean, for one of them was 1.2 million, right? Another is 400,000 maybe at the minimum. And I keep looking for the smaller ways and we’ve done upgrades to get the most out of what we have, but you know, in the back of your head that this is limited, but there needs to be new investment and there should be right. And, and so that’s been hard. We do apply. I have been applying for grants. I wish that there was more, and I know that the NIH has tried to make other opportunities. I just saw this R24 come up, which wasn’t necessarily for equipment to go in a lab, but for the structural support that it does. So I’m seeing some change there. And that’s something I’ve asked, you know, CZI as well to consider because as wonderful as it is to help fund professional development and staff, and it has been catalyzing is we do need equipment and with the equipment we need staff. And so it all goes together, right? And I’m interested to see how things like the Beckman awards go through how that changes and how that continues to be supported by institutions or other funders. Because unlike in the, I think I’m not sure about the UK, but I think Canada and Germany, there’s some funds nationally you can apply to for instruments. And they even come with a bit of staff support maybe for a year or two.

Peter O’Toole (00:50:36):
I’m actually fortunate. I sit on a few of those funding. Bodies says that it split into different ones and fortunate I sit on some of those panels. And we apply to them as well. And sometimes successful sometimes not usually it’s for the equipment only for what they look quite often for is for the institutes to match the plans with the people. Because, and I think this is totally the right thing to do. A lot of, I hear some people say, look, you give us the equipment, but not the people. And if you give the people with the equipment at the end of three years, the people that have won because there’s been no incentive to minimize the cost to the institutes. If the Institute puts them in, they then feel an obligation to deliver and make it sustainable, make a career to that post.

Michelle Itano (00:51:22):
Not just hope three years. And that’s okay, it’s that technician’s commitment to get and making us financially sustainable model that I, I, I can talk all day about that. It’s by my passions is that I don’t think any of us should ever be given stuff. We should be short-term with an obligation to make it a sustainable and post in the future. Cause someone pays for it somewhere. And going back to the funders, they’re asking us to charge what science really costs. Don’t hide. It never cost a scientist money. It’s costing the funders money, but if the funders aren’t paying it, someone’s having to pick it up. Or as we started, it started this, you end up with four or five, six microscopes and no one to train or run them, UK is actually, I will say UKRI, which is our government funding through BBSRC and MRC, certainly for the life scientists I think are really good. And we have so like Chan Chan-Zuckenberg So for those not listening or not familiar with CZI that’s, Priscilla, Mark Zuckerberg, so Facebook and their putting public donations in, UK, we have Wellcome Trust as well. And they have typically, historically things are changing a bit at the moment being very good supporters as well for equipment. And they do ask to put the staff structures into place. And it’s assessed if you, if you can’t show that you can support it beyond the three years of service contracts, because you said there were $400,000 to $1.2 million service contract prices on those, roughly just, just ballpark don’t

Michelle Itano (00:53:03):
I wouldn’t say at least 10 to 30 K a year,

Peter O’Toole (00:53:07):
They tend to $30,000 a year. So when you get the grant, you’ve got that money. And then at the end of the grant who’s paying that.

Michelle Itano (00:53:14):
So that’s normally what we try to get through user feeds. Right. But then you have to spread it out right on what is getting the most use versus what the service contract is the most expensive. And it’s a really interesting kind of risk assessment and value proposition, I think. But what you were saying was really interesting to me because I’ve also talked a lot with Mark Sanders at University of Minnesota, about the structures he’s put in place for promotion and retention of staff and core facilities. And I think that’s so key, right? Because when it really trained person leaves and there’s no job for them, right? There’s no that, that impacts the whole community negatively and their need to have roles and opportunities for promotion and recognition of great work. And I don’t think those exist currently. And I do think a lot of that does have to be at the institutional level, but if funders can put some expectations in place, we’ll see them also align. So there’s gotta be some give and take.

Peter O’Toole (00:54:17):
Do you need to see the UK the technicians commitments BBSRC and Rota the calls just come out politically written in on that career progression and training development. I’ve got to say big thumbs up to UK. Who’ve got their stuff together. I’m forgetting this is podcast I’m just talking. So I’m going to ask some quickfire questions. They will come back. So are you a PC or Mac person?

Michelle Itano (00:54:40):
So I am currently a PC person, but again, go going through the genomics explosion and sequencing and annotating data. I was on Mac person then in my undergraduate. And so I still miss things like the command, the apple shift for right. To take a screenshot and things like that. So I still have some of those lingering. Yeah, well, but then you have to crop it and it’s just not the same. So I still have some of those lingering Mac preferences and wanting to be able to just code on my computer the way that, you know, I was with a dual boot with a Unix-based system. But now everything’s going in Python. So it’s a little bit antiquated anyway, I suppose. But yeah, officially PC, I suppose,

Peter O’Toole (00:55:33):
Always good to be PC early bird or night owl.

Michelle Itano (00:55:38):
I’m a natural night owl. If I could, my best writing would be like 11:00 PM to 3:00 AM, but with the kids that has changed. So now I tend to be in the office by 8:00 AM and that is my quietest most productive time. So we’ll see at some point when they start sleeping in, maybe I’ll be able to return to my more natural tendencies.

Peter O’Toole (00:55:59):
Let’s see, radio star, a circadian rhythm is tea, tea, or coffee.

Michelle Itano (00:56:04):
I I’m, I’m bivalent there. I like both. I love both. I have both behind me. I do do a coffee in the morning, but it’s a very non traditional coffee, right? It’s like the pumpkin spice, correct. Which places me in a very for the coffee officiant, honor’s not, not in there in their realm of expertise, but also love teas and kind of go with anything, but

Peter O’Toole (00:56:31):
Okay. Beer or wine

Michelle Itano (00:56:35):
There I’m more of a wine drinker, so I’m up also celiac disease. So I’ve had to go gluten-free that was discovered as I transitioned to my post-doc but also have a pretty low alcohol tolerance generally. So more of actually a hard liquor person and would prefer kind of more whiskey than either.

Peter O’Toole (00:56:59):
Well, do you know what the amount of podcasts I ask guests is it seems the Americans are really into their whiskeys

Michelle Itano (00:57:07):
I don’t know what that is, but also, you know, the very weak drinks, like the majority sours. I’m also a good fan of

Peter O’Toole (00:57:18):
Chocolate or cheese.

Michelle Itano (00:57:21):
That’s tough. I think I need chocolate, right? I love chocolate, but I also, especially with the gluten-free diet have relied quite upon cheese. I’m not quite to the like Stilton, you know, as a holiday person, but it would be very hard for me to cut out cheese completely, but chocolate is a daily need, I suppose

Peter O’Toole (00:57:47):
I would concur take to-go what’s your favorite food?

Michelle Itano (00:57:53):
That’s tough. Before, before gluten-free it was probably or at least what I said it was, was a country fried steak. So we joked that my grandparents grew up in Texas and that my stomach was very Texan. I love fried meats and gravies and things like that. That’s harder to reproduce.

Peter O’Toole (00:58:17):
Yeah. Fried meats and gravies. Tell me the gravy isn’t fried

Michelle Itano (00:58:21):
The gravy isn’t fried, but has enough oil that I think it could be.

Peter O’Toole (00:58:27):
Okay. So what’s your taste-wise, what’s your least favorite food? What would you go who know about. Go to a conference dinner and suddenly it served in front of you and thinking, oh my goodness, what do I do now?

Michelle Itano (00:58:43):
Oh, that’s tough. Cause I really do love food and trying new things. I think I’m, I have the hardest time with some exotic seafoods. So in Japan and things where the noodles were actually a small fish and some of the more fishy tastes I’ve had more struggles with. And maybe that’s because I was a Colorado landlocked child and so we just didn’t have much. And so like crab was my go-to seafood, but not like muscles and things, but my sister grew up in Colorado too and loves shellfish. So I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me, but that’s probably where I, the most is like raw shellfish.

Peter O’Toole (00:59:25):
Yeah. I wouldn’t shell out that’s for sure. What’s your, TV or book, what would be your preference?

Michelle Itano (00:59:32):
I love book. But I really do enjoy seeing the movie adaptations. I wonder if it’s because I also like being a bit critical of it and noticing where they made changes especially to flow or to characters and like that character didn’t say that, you know, but they had to cut down or something. So we have been doing that as a family to reading the books first and then watching the movies. But I do love just watching a movie and zoning out.

Peter O’Toole (00:59:59):
So I was going to ask what your favorite movie is, but I think you’ve just answered that in that question. What’s your favorite Christmas movie then?

Michelle Itano (01:00:08):
Christmas movie I used to love, I don’t know. It’s tough with the kids. Right. but I think in general, one that I always watch is ELF. I still really do like ELF and for some reason I think of it as a Christmas movie, but it’s not as Sweet Home Alabama. I watched a lot. It’s one of those I think of as like a Christmas movie, that’s just on all the time that I can tune into. And if I’m flipping through and be like, oh, I’ll just leave that on. That’s fun. But ELF, I did always enjoy.

Peter O’Toole (01:00:43):
And you said that you sing choir wise, but w what music, what’s your taste in music? What’s your favorite?

Michelle Itano (01:00:51):
I love Broadway. I do almost any Broadway musical. I love as well as the classics and so kind of like show tunes and it doesn’t matter if it’s, you know, really old classic showtunes or, you know, Hamilton in the Heights. I do, I’m kind of a sucker for movie soundtracks and things like that.

Peter O’Toole (01:01:15):
I w I can’t wait for the next conference and you’re just going to have to slip into song at some point and then carry on with where you were.

Michelle Itano (01:01:23):
Yeah. Nobody will enjoy that. Still not a performer, but yeah.

Peter O’Toole (01:01:29):
Okay. If we are actually coming up to the hour already, I’m really cross about, because there’s quite a lot of questions I wanted to ask you about that was my fault. I like 2, 2, 2 more questions. Who would you most like to meet?

Michelle Itano (01:01:48):
But that’s tough. I think a lot of that again is, or I related to your response, too, for me, it’s hard to think of just meeting someone versus like building up a relationship with them, getting to know them

Peter O’Toole (01:02:02):
Would be.

Michelle Itano (01:02:03):
So my, my go-to before, because it was past or present was either an ancestor of mine who I wish, who I’d never met, who I’d love to ask about what that was like, like what was coming to America in 1900, like when you were a teenager

Peter O’Toole (01:02:19):
He wants to do and build a time machine then

Speaker 4 (01:02:22):
And do that, or like something in the future. Like if I’m lucky enough to have great, great. Great-Grandchildren what that would be and what they would see in the world.

Peter O’Toole (01:02:32):
No, I’d be stressed about that too much pressure, worry about your children, where they, if they’re going to get to know, don’t want to worry about my great-grandchildren. So what about the current?

Michelle Itano (01:02:45):
So I’m looking right now at the autograph I have from Mia Hamm. I do find some of those who I looked up to as children and we’re so much in the limelight, even at a time when it was so different. And I wonder what that was like, right. To really excel at your field and to be put as a spokesperson for an entire nation. Right. And what you, what you think now about what’s happening to those who are stepping into that role? I, I think I would be interested some in that but it would be hard to choose. There’s so many, so many incredible people out there

Peter O’Toole (01:03:26):
And finally of your job role, which element do you find most exciting? Is it the teaching? Is it the using it on someone’s behalf, getting those first results? Is it the, I think I’ve got pictures of, of interacting with people, training, teaching, being on the microscope, using gate or is it the, the networking, the communication side of it? Again, go back to your earlier picture. You’ve had that. Is it the communication, or is it a business that the finances, the influence that the applying for funds dividing up, it’s a really diverse role? Isn’t it?

Michelle Itano (01:04:12):
I mean, I think it’s honestly that it’s the variety it’s that every day is different and that I can, I mean, there’s external things that determine, you know, there’s just more trainings today or more classes, but I can also shape it and I can write more if that’s what I choose, that I need more just kind of focused time. And I love that. I love that each day is different. And I love that if I’m like I’m missing, interacting with this population, or I’m missing this, that I can make that happen in my day. And I have the flexibility to do that. If I’m missing that troubleshooting, I can just walk into the lab and I guarantee there’ll be something that needs a bit of tweaking, and I can see that person take a picture and send it to their mom and be like, cool. This is what I did today and see that excitement happen for them. And that when that gets to be too much, I can retract back and write or revise something or contribute a review and feel a little bit more focused in. But I, I think that really is it that you get to define it and get adjust each almost each moment, you know, like, am I going to step out of this office or am I going to write and create something? And that either way it has value to my day-to-day job. So I can’t choose. I’m taking, I’m taking a cowardly way out

Peter O’Toole (01:05:35):
To ask you before we actually, I do some pictures I never showed. So actually, I guess when it comes to Broadway musicals, this was probably

Michelle Itano (01:05:43):
My performance highlight.

Peter O’Toole (01:05:45):
Yep. So seeing

Michelle Itano (01:05:48):
In Coney island of Dr. Moreau, so I was a skunk human hybrid and I was really proud of my costume cause we kind of had to come up with our own costumes and we did the boa. And yeah, I mean, it was basically a chorus member, but I had always been stage crew and sound crew before that. And this was the first time it was my eighth grade year that I was like, I’m going to step on to the stage. And I don’t think I’ve ever done it since

Peter O’Toole (01:06:19):
Extremely well engaged. So you don’t care where you go from a skunk to doc? Yes.

Michelle Itano (01:06:29):
That was spring break. Right? high school, I think my junior year, maybe my junior year when I was trying to avoid the getting letters back from all of the college applications. And so it was very against what my dad would’ve chosen to do. But we went to Cancun for a vacation and we did get to see some ruins, but not to the level that he would have preferred. And he really just kept me distracted and my mom and happy and reading and kind of, you know, a lot of changes are coming up in life. You can’t control, but in the meantime just kind of literally swim with the dolphins and kind of let the days go by.

Peter O’Toole (01:07:12):
And finally cause they, these necklaces you described them because they,

Michelle Itano (01:07:20):
Yeah. So this is our images taken by the incredible artistic Christina laMoore, who, who started in the core. And this was maybe in one of her first weeks in the Core. And I was like trying to come up with some images that represented the interaction with neuroscience. And these are from a book on Ramoni Hall’s exhibits and drawings of early neuroscience. And then the necklace is my family crest. So in Japan, the family crests are typically geometric shapes and often round. And this is a flower. And I had it made into a necklace, a custom necklace for my wedding and have loved it and, and its connection to my Japanese American past. But I love how it now interacts with kind of my career and how geometric the, the images are in the cells shapes are and how it makes me think about both symmetry and dissonance in the symmetry and where that might be kind of key. So I love this, all of the placement was Christina’s and I think she just did an incredible job with all of that.

Peter O’Toole (01:08:31):
I think I stopped the first time the podcast received the core images, because I think Zach Lippman, when there’s a curator or guest curator for like a whole series, worth seeing that we are up for time, I’m afraid of Michelle. So thank you very much for joining me today. Everyone who’s listened or watched. Thank you very much for joining the, my cost. Please. Don’t forget to subscribe to whichever channel you’re listening to. So don’t miss the next one. Michelle. I think of all the things, the most important message I think today is if you’re a PhD, if you’re a post-doc, there’s a career, that’s a different path than academic tenure. There’s equally challenging, equally exciting. And with the same career prospects, I think anyone who’s not in that path, I hopefully you’ve learned about the expense and the difficulties in delivering technology to help on science. And if you’ve got loads of money in your pocket, like Chan-Zuckenberg and they’re putting it in, do you know what one of the best places you can invest is in a microscope or technology, because then you don’t just help solve one question to cancer. It helps address lots of questions of cancer, disease, all sorts, and it’s really equipment that enables everyone to use it. So anyway, Michelle, thank you very much. Thank you so much

Michelle Itano (01:09:46):
For having me. Thanks for your time.

Intro/Outro (01:09:49):
Thank you for listening to The Microscopists, a Bitesizebio podcast sponsored by Zeiss microscopy to view all audio and video recordings from this series, please visit


Scroll To Top