The Minnesota Microscopy Infrastructure Partnership, which includes MSI PIs and partners, have begun a new citizen-science project on the platform Zooniverse to use inputs from the public to help determine the number size, and location of lipid droplets in cells. Participants draw an outline around what they think are the fat cells in a microscopic image. These inputs are used to create 3D models that researchers can use to understand the role of lipids in biological functions. The project, called “Fat Checker” , is part of the Etch-a-Cell project, which is run by the Francis Crick Institute and the University of Oxford.
- Douglas Mashek (professor, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics)
- Professor Mashek uses MSI for research into lipid droplet biology and its relationship to metabolic diseases.
- Lucy Fortson (professor, Physics and Astronomy)
- Professor Fortson uses MSI for gamma ray astrophysics research and to train algorithms used for the Zooniverse platform and process images uploaded to the site.
- Thomas Pengo (Director, University of Minnesota Informatics Institute)
- UMII fosters and accelerates data-intensive research across the University system and is a partner with MSI in the Research Computing umbrella group.
- Mark Sanders (Director, University Imaging Centers)
- The UIC provides imaging equipment and training to U of M researchers and uses MSI compute and storage resources.
Dr. Jeffrey McDonald (University of Minnesota Hormel Institute) is also a co-leader on this project. Prior to taking his position at the Hormel Institute, Dr. McDonald was MSI’s Associate Director of Operations from 2010-2019.
A story about this project appears on the U of M News site: University of Minnesota, Hormel Institute, and Mayo Clinic collaborate on new citizen science project.