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New Microscope Streamlines Research in Nutrition Lab

Susan Helm with new microscope equipmentSusan Helm, Seaver College professor of Nutritional Science and director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics in Seaver College’s Natural Science Division, recently acquired state of the art lab equipment with funding from the Rose Hills Foundation. The microscope is expanding her students’ lab experience and significantly reducing time spent on research projects.

Since 1993, Helm’s contributions to the Nutritional Science program have set it as a leader as an approved Didactic Program in Dietetics program. In 2014, the program was able to extend its offerings to a post-baccalaureate Nutritional Science certificate. More recently, Helm has studied the link between folate deficiency and Down Syndrome and Alzheimer's disease. Her acquisition of the Nikon ECLIPSE Ti2 microscope, is allowing her to map the neural pathways of spatial disorientation in individuals affected.

“It’s rare to have this equipment readily available, so it is exciting to see students interacting with it for their studies,” shared Helm. “I am also hopeful of the research collaborations it will open between Pepperdine and other institutions.”

The innovative inverted light microscope allows for a wider, “super-resolution” image, effortlessly allowing Helm to observe neuron samples. Equipped with digital cameras, the microscope can capture multi-layered images of samples so researchers may view them remotely. Previously Helm would send samples to Stanford for technicians to view them, capture them, then send back the data. Having the equipment in her own lab will reduce a year’s worth of research to only three months in the lab. Seaver students in various fields of study are being trained to use the microscope.

To learn more about opportunities in the Nutritional Science program, visit the program’s website.