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Medical Engineering Distinguished Seminar Series, Professor Na Ji

Thursday, January 11, 2024
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Annenberg 105
Imaging the brain at high spatiotemporal resolution
Professor Na Ji, Professor of Neurobiology and Luis Alvarez Memorial Chair in Experimental Physics, Department of Physics and Department of Molecular Cell Biology, University of Berkeley,

Neuroscience aims to understand the brain, an organ that distinguishes humans as a species, defines us as individuals, and provides the intellectual power with which we explore the universe. Composed of electrically excitable cells called neurons, the brain continuously receives and analyzes information, makes decisions and controls actions. Similar to systems studied in physics and mechanical engineering, where many properties emerge from the interactions of their components, the functions of the brain arise from the interactions of neurons. The fundamental computational units of the brain, neurons communicate with one another electrochemically via submicron structures called synapses. Synapsing onto one another, neurons form circuits and networks, sometimes spanning centimeters in dimension and specializing in different mental functions. To understand the brain mechanistically, we need methods that can monitor the physiological processes of single synapses as well as the activities of a large number of networked neurons. Using concepts developed in astronomy and optics, my laboratory develops optical microscopy methods for imaging the brain at higher resolution, greater depth, and faster time scales. In this talk, I will outline our past and ongoing research efforts.
Biography: Na Ji studied chemistry and physics as an undergraduate in the University of Science and Technology of China and later a graduate student at University of California Berkeley. She received her PhD in Chemistry in 2005 under the guidance of Yuen-Ron Shen. In 2006, she moved to Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and worked with Eric Betzig on improving the speed and resolution of in vivo brain imaging. She became a group leader in Janelia in 2011. In 2017, she moved to the Department of Physics and Department of Molecular Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley as the Luis Alvarez Memorial Chair in Experimental Physics. She is also affiliated with the Bioengineering, Biophysics, and Vision Science Graduate Programs, Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, and serves as a faculty scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In addition to imaging technology development, her lab applies the resulting techniques to outstanding problems in neurobiology. Hosted by Lihong Wang

For more information, please contact Christine Garske by email at [email protected] or visit