Visitor of the Week: Chad Hobson

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Meet Chad Hobson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). A second-year graduate student in the physics program at UNC-CH and member of Richard Superfine’s lab, Chad is at CSHL training at the Quantitative Imaging: From Acquisition to Analysis course thanks in large part to a fellowship from the Helmsley Charitable Trust and support from the Graduate Student Opportunity Fund at UNC-CH.

What are your research interests? What are you working on?
My main interest is in designing new systems that combine cutting-edge microscopy techniques with force-measurement instruments to investigate the mechanics of single cells. Specifically, I am using a combined light sheet microscope and atomic force microscope to investigate the mechanics of cell nuclei.

How did you decide to make this the focus of your research?
I toured Rich Superfine’s lab during an undergraduate summer program (REU) at Duke University and loved the idea of combining force and imaging techniques and fundamental physics to understand the mechanics of single cells. The field was entirely new to me, but the ability to design and invent as well as use my physics background was inspiring.

How did your scientific journey begin?
During my freshman year of undergraduate school at Lynchburg College, my professor, Dr. John Eric Goff, approached me and asked if I would be interested in conducting sports physics research under his guidance. I started work with him in the summer before my sophomore year and have not looked back. I have changed gears from sports physics to nuclear physics to now biophysics, but my passion for research has remained unchanged.

Was there something specific about the Quantitative Imaging: From Acquisition to Analysis course that drew you to apply?
I really wanted to get hands-on experience with a variety of imaging techniques in order to both broaden my general knowledge of microscopy as well as understand the difficulties and limitations of each technique. These skills will help increase the rigor and success of my graduate research going forward.

What and/or how will you apply what you’ve learned from the course to your work?
Everything I have learned directly applies to our lab. Whether it is general maintenance and care of optics or a more detailed understanding of each component of a microscope, I am excited to share what I have learned with my fellow lab researchers.

What is your key takeaway from the course?
The biggest takeaway so far is that I will never know everything about microscopy, and that is okay. At the course, however, we are building up from the basics so that I can develop a working knowledge that applies to almost all imaging modalities. Moving forward if I need to understand the detailed intricacies of a certain method I have the foundation to do so.

If someone curious in attending this course asked you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her?
Take it! The instructors are beyond fantastic and helpful, and you will never look at a microscope the same way again.

What do you like most about your time at CSHL?
I have truly enjoyed getting to know the fellow students and instructors at the course. We all come from such different backgrounds and fields, so learning about what brought us all here together has been an enlightening experience. 

Chad received funding support via a fellowship from the Helmsley Charitable Trust and from the Graduate Student Opportunity Fund at UNC-CH. On behalf of Chad, thank you to these organizations for supporting and enabling our young scientists to attend a CSHL course where they expand their skills, knowledge, and network.

Thank you to Chad for being this week's featured visitor. To meet other featured scientists - and discover the wide range of science that takes part in a CSHL meeting or course - go here.