August 19, 2021

Biology faculty members secure NSF grant to purchase cell sorter

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $125,000 grant to Lewis & Clark College for the purchase of a WOLF benchtop cell sorter from NanoCellect for cutting-edge research and undergraduate training in biology. Spearheaded by Assistant Professor of Biology Sharon Torigoe, this modern instrumentation will also immediately support the research programs of Co-PIs Associate Professor Norma Velazquez Ulloa and Professor Greg Hermann. The cell sorter, funded by NSF’s Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program, will allow the research programs of these three PIs to advance in new directions, further broadening the research capacity at Lewis & Clark and increasing opportunities available to students and yet-to-be-hired faculty members.

Cell sorting is a powerful technique to separate and collect specific cells or organelles from a mixture for further experimentation and analysis. With increasing interests in unique cell-types and organelles and continued advancements in experimental methods, cell sorting has become increasingly widespread and essential for biological research. The availability of cell sorting at Lewis & Clark will open doors to a variety of modern methods, including genomics and proteomics to analyze rare populations of cells and organelles and current approaches to gene editing – all of which could not be pursued previously. In short, this new instrument will support existing and new research projects at Lewis & Clark that will advance fundamental knowledge in multiple disciplines of biology.

It is worth noting that this is Dr. Torigoe’s second successful competitive grant application since she joined Lewis & Clark in 2017. Further, this is the third piece of research equipment for which the biology department has secured NSF MRI funding to purchase in recent years; it joins a Fluorescence Deconvolution microscope and a Laser Scanning Confocal microscope system.