News, Events and Workshops

The list of news and events is by no means a comprehensive one, so if you have anything you'd like to add email Sharon at

  • News from 2017 and earlier

  • News from 2018:

    Monthly Microscopy Meeting 20th Sept 2018

    OMNI MMM Sept

    Peter Batson (Department of of Marine Science)
    Little boxes: untangling the enigmatic life histories of hornerid bryozoans
    Peter has used almost every form of microscopy to investigate hornerid bryozoans during his PhD, including SE-SEM, Serial block face SEM, EDS, EBSD, TEM, MicroCT and LM histology.

    Golnoush Madani (Faculty of Dentistry)
    Expression and Purification of Multidrug Efflux Pump Cdr1 for Structural Studies
    Golnoush Madani (PhD student) has been awarded a short-term research grant by the DAAD (the German Academic Exchange Service) to spend 6 months in a research laboratory in Dortmund, Germany. Golnoush is a PhD student in the Sir John Walsh Research Institute who is investigating the structure and function of fungal efflux pump Cdr1, responsible for drug resistance in the human pathogen Candida albicans. She will join the laboratory of Professor Stefan Raunser at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Physiology where she will apply the latest cryo-electron microscopy techniques to Cdr1.

    Seminar: Professor Antoine van Oijen (University of Wollongong, Australia)

    Professor Antoine van Oijen will talk about his research using single molecule techniques from 11-1200 on Monday 20th August in room 231 of the Biochemistry building.

    Nanopaper (20th August): Tackling biological systems using single-molecule imaging and biophysics

    Nano-papers are intended to offer an interactive environment for those interested in applying new approaches to their research. The format will offer talks from invited and local experts, ample opportunity to interact with experts and other interested parties in a relaxed environment, and to gain hands on experience with some methods of interest. All are welcome for talks, but space will be limited for afternoon sessions. Ideally, after the nano-paper attendees will have an appreciation of new possible research avenues, ideas on where to get started or develop their approach further, and have connected with others across the School who may have similar interests. Postgraduates, postdoctoral fellows and PIs are encouraged to attend.

    During this Nanopaper attendees will hear from Sigurd Wilbanks (Single molecules, multiple challenges with Hsp70 and FRET) and Antoine van Oijen (Tackling antimicrobial resistance, one molecule at a time) and participate in an afternoon workshop.

    Please contact or to register, for further information, or to suggest areas of special interest for future nano-papers!

    Seminar: 'Advanced EELS an TEM Camera Technology'

    Dr. Zibin Chen (Scitek) will introduce Advanced Electron Energy-Loss Spectroscopy (EELS), Dual EELS and Counting EELS with detailed application examples. An update on latest TEM camera technology will cover aspects of structural biology, sensitive material imaging and In-Situ experiments.

    0900 on Thursday 23rd August in the Benham Building Seminar Room (Zoology).

    EELS Otago

    Monthly Microscopy Meeting

    The next meeting is at 9:00AM Thursday the 28th of June in the seminar room of the Benham (Zoology) building.

    Self-assembly of keratins in biological materials
    Sai Velamoor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology

    Helical reconstruction of microtubules
    Pavel Filipcik, Department of Biochemistry

    microscopy monthly meeting

    Journal of Virology Cover

    Recently a group of Otago researchers had one of their structural models of SVV featured on the cover of the Journal of Virology (June 2018) in collaboration with Dunedin-based augmented reality app PEEKAVU. You can check out the cover at the Journal of Virology.

    Cover photograph: Seneca Valley Virus is a novel picornavirus with oncolytic properties. Naturally occurring procapsids (upper left corner) are assembled from pentamers (center), which are formed by five copies of a monomer (lower right corner). Monomers consist of the capsid proteins VP1, VP2, VP3, and VP4, shown in blue, green, red, and orange, respectively. The background presents a cryoelectron micrograph used for calculating the structures. The monomer may be inspected by using the augmented reality application PEEKAVU (which can be downloaded for free for smartphones and tablets from the relevant app store), by pointing the PEEKAVU-enabled device at the monomer model in the lower right corner. (See related article in March 2018, vol. 92, no. 6, e01927-17.). You can also read more about the project in the Otago Bulletin.

    Paper of the Month

    Younus, M., Hawley, A., Boyd, B.J., Rizwan, S.B. (2018) Bulk and dispersed aqueous behaviour of an endogenous lipid, selachyl alcohol: Effect of Tween 80 and Pluronic F127 on nanostructure. Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces, 169:135-142,

    CRYOZ18 Conference June 22nd 2018

    A meeting for the Australian and New Zealand cryo-EM community hosted by the Monash Ramaciotti Centre for Cryo-EM. Support by AMMS, the ARC CoE for Advanced Imaging, Thermo Fisher, Leica, and Scitek has allowed this meeting to run free of charge and also offer some support for interstate PhD students. Please share the website with any interested colleagues. For more information and registration visit

    No March Monthly Microscopy Meeting

    There will be no microscopy meeting this March as the last Thursday of the month is too close to the Easter holidays. The next meeting will be on Thursday the 3rd of May at 9:00AM in the seminar room of the Benham (Zoology) building, where we will hear from Dr. Matteo Demurtas (Department of Geology) about TKD techniques in the SEM.

    "Application of Transmission Kikuchi Diffraction to nanogranular geological materials"

    Nanoparticles (<1 micron) are found widely in tectonic fault zones and have successfully been reproduced in laboratory experiments. Although various deformation processes have been proposed to form nanoparticles in faults, their origin and influence on fault mechanical behavior is still poorly understood. Understanding the deformation processes that produce nanoparticles in natural and experimental faults requires an understanding of their grain sizes, shapes, crystallographic orientations and grain boundary structures. However, conventional microanalytical techniques often lack the spatial resolution to understand the crystallographic characteristics of nanograins. Transmission Kikuchi Diffraction (TKD) in the SEM was developed several years ago (Trimby, 2012, Ultramicroscopy) and has been successfully used to study the crystalline structure of nanostructured metals and alloys. TKD allows crystallographic orientation mapping to be performed at high spatial resolution (down to few nm) over relatively large sample areas (103 m2). In this talk I will introduce the technique and present results of TKD analysis performed on the Zeiss Sigma VP Field-Emission-Gun Scanning Electron Microscope in the OCEM in Otago. These are among the first ever results on geological samples collected from fault zones. The TKD analysis allows us to better constrain the deformation processes that occur in fault zones during earthquakes, including the activity of dislocation creep and grain boundary sliding aided by diffusion creep.

    Imaging Unit Manager Vacancy

    University of Otago is looking for an Imaging Unit Manager (who will manage the EM, confocal, histology and flow cytometry units). You can find out more about the position on Otago's 'Current Vacancies' page.

    Paper of the Month

    Strauss, M., Jayawardena, N., Sun, E., Easingwood, R.A., Burga, L.N. and Bostina, M. (2018) Cryo-Electron Microscopy Structure of Seneca Valley Virus Procapsid. Journal of Virology,

    Dr. Alasdair McDowall Visits the OCEM

    The OCEM was lucky enough to be paid a visit by Dr. Alasdair McDowall and his wife Leta McDowall during which he told us about the Nobel ceremony and let us play with his medal. Alasdair played a key role in optimising vitrification (which made cryo-EM possible) and was the first-author several of the early papers from the Dubochet lab that the Nobel Prize recognized. McDowall was so integral to this work that Dubochet invited McDowall and Leta to attend the 2017 Nobel ceremonies and gave one of the three replica medals offered to each Nobelist to McDowall.

    alasdair pizza sharon medal
    alasdair medal sharon medal
    medal1 medal2


    The 19th International Microscopy Congress (IMC19) will be held 9-14 September 2018 in Sydney. Held every four years, and for the first time in Australian in many decades, this is a special AMMS (Australian Microscopy & Microanalysis Society), held under the auspices of IFSM. The congress will attract over 3,000 scientists working within and outside the microscopy sector. There will be a large interactive trade exhibition where leading suppliers are set to launch ground-breaking new instruments.

    Monthly Microscopy Meeting

    The next meeting is at 9:00AM Thursday the 1st March in the seminar room of the Benham (Zoology) building.

    Antimicrobial Coatings on Hospital Touch Surfaces: How would you tell if it works?
    Dr. Aleksandra Gardecka, University of Canterbury

    antimicrobial coating Nosocomial infections are a serious problem. There is a huge amount of interest in antimicrobial materials that could be used for coatings in health care facilities. The concept is that the door handles, bed rails, switch plates and other touch surface could be coated with antimicrobial materials and thus reduce the transmission probability. In the Advanced Energy and Material Systems lab in Canterbury we develop robust coatings for stainless steel touch surfaces exhibiting excellent antimicrobial properties both in UV and visible light, substantially reducing amount of present bacteria therefore contributing in prevention of nosocomial infections.

    AsCA 2018/CRYSTAL 32 2-5th December 2018

    AsCA 2018/CRYSTAL 32 is a combined conference of the Asian Crystallographic Association (AsCA) and the Society of Crystallographers in Australia and New Zealand (SCANZ) being held in Auckland on the 2nd-5th December 2018. Dr. Mihnea Bostina (Academic Director of OCEM) will be chairing a symposium 'Applications of cryo-EM to structural biology'.

    Basic Microscopy Skills Workshop

    This week the Leica Product Manager, Hazel Bengan, is in Dunedin. She is available on Tuesday & Wednesday to discuss any Microscopy requirements you may have. This would be by appointment and most suitable as a refresher for your Technicians and Post Grad Students who may have some current practical requirements. Bio-Strategy are offering this opportunity in recognition of the support of Leica Microscopy Products at this University and want to help those using Microscopes to get the best from their valuable instruments.

    WHEN: Afternoon Wednesday 31st January 2.00-4.00pm

    WHERE: Bio-Strategy Lab, Suite 24, Ground Floor, Centre for Innovation Bldg. Uni Otago

    WHAT: A Leica Teaching DM750 Microscope and ICC50 W Camera will be available to train on for example,
    - Widefield Microscopy
    - upright and inverted microscope configurations
    - Contrast Methods including Koehler Illumination
    - Factors in selecting the right microscope
    - Microscope Cleaning and Maintenance
    - Digital Imaging (microscope cameras and software such as Leica LAS Core, LAS EZ, LAS AirLab)

    Email with time that suits, who will come from your Group and any specifics you want to learn and we will get back to you. Appointments will be on a first reply basis and approx. 1 hour each for a small group.

    Monthly Microscopy Meeting

    The next meeting is at 9:00AM Thursday the 26th of October in the seminar room of the Benham (Zoology) building. The OCEM intends to purchase an SEM to bring new capabilities to the unit. In order to decide on the optimal configuration, we have organised several presentations by providers. This month we will hear from Ian Cotton from Hitachi (Canada), and from Graeme Jones from NewSpec (Australia).

    There will also be a sales presentation at 1.00PM on Thursday the 26th October in the Hunter Centre (seminar room TBC).

    Monthly Microscopy Meeting

    The next meeting is at 9:00AM Thursday the 31st of August, in the seminar room of the Benham (Zoology) building. The OCEM intends to purchase an SEM to bring new capabilities to the unit. In order to decide on the optimal configuration, we have organised several presentations by providers. This month we will hear from Kamran Khajehpour from AXT, an Australian based supplier who, amongst at very wide range of EM preparation equipment, offer the Tescan range of scanning elecron microscopes and the Delmic range of CLEM platforms and cathodoluminescene detectors.

    There will also be a sales presentation at 1.00PM on Thursday the 31st August in room 120 of the Hunter Centre.

    "Next Generation Microscopy Solutions for Life and Material Science Applications"

    Paper of the Month

    Miles, L.A., Burga, L.N., Gardner, E.E., Bostina, M., Poirier, J.T. and Rudin, C.M. (2017) Anthrax toxin receptor 1 is the cellular receptor for Seneca Valley virus. The Journal of Clinical Investigation,

    Seneca Valley Virus

    Cryo-EM Workshop - 24th July 2017

    Short Introduction to cryo-EM
    1030AM on Monday the 24th July and Tuesday the 1st of August 2017
    Room 207, Microbiology building. Enquires to

    Monthly Microscopy Meeting

    The next Microscopy Monthly Meeting is at 9:00AM Thursday the 27th of July, in the seminar room of the Benham (Zoology) building.

    Steve Seo
    Department of Anatomy
    "Understanding a synaptic connector in the healthy and diseased midbrain" (~15 min)

    Ian Baker
    Dartmouth University
    "Magnetic Hyperthermia for Cancer Treatment" (~45 min)

    OCEM MMM July

    Monthly Microscopy Meeting: Live Cell Imaging and CLEM

    The OCEM has been invited by the Equipment Advisory Committee to submit an application for a High-resolution Analytical Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope system with serial block face SEM (SBF-SEM) capability. SBF-FEG SEM will provide an advanced level 3D ultrastructural analysis that is entirely novel in New Zealand. In order to decide on the optimal configuration we have organised several presentations by providers and this month we are being visited by two speakers from Zeiss.

    The next meeting is at 9:00AM Thursday the 29th of June, in the seminar room of the Benham (Zoology) building.

    "Life happens in 3D and understanding biological context in the three dimensions has been a major driver in microscopy in the past decades. Whilst key biological functions are addressed by techniques like confocal fluorescence microscopy techniques, volume imaging by scanning electron microscopy, now offers an unprecedented understanding of the large ultrastructure biological objects. Correlating both imaging modalities in 3D is therefore a powerful way to link function to structure, even in complex biological systems."

    Bridge the Micro and Nano Worlds with Light and Electron Microscopy.
    Dr. Ruth Chalmers-Redman, Zeiss Singapore.

    Developments in Microscopy for Live Cell Imaging
    Dr. Rene Hessling, Zeiss Australia/New Zealand.

    There will also be a special presentation at 1.00PM in the Hunter Centre room 120 (upstairs).

    "For decades, confocal microscopy has offered us a glimpse into a 3D understanding of biological specimens. Recent years have brought us improved labelling techniques, faster acquisition, gentler imaging at higher resolution scales. These techniques rely on the cells of interest being labelled and therefore visible to the detection system. New advances in scanning electron microscopy offer volume imaging at an unprecedented scale allowing for a new understanding of the large ultrastructure of biological objects. With electron microscopy however, no cell can hide. Correlating both imaging modalities in 2D and 3D is therefore a powerful new technique to link function to structure, even in complex biological systems." Imaging 3D volumes in modern SEM and Correlation of Light and Electron Microscopy
    (Dr. Ruth Chalmers-Redman - ZEISS Singapore)

    New technologies in confocal microscopy for Live Cell Applications
    (Dr. Rene Hessling - ZEISS Australia/New Zealand)

    OCEM MMM June1 OCEM MMM June2

    Paper of the Month

    Fagerlund, R.D., Wilkinson, M.E., Klykov, O., Barendregt, A., Pearce, F.G., Kieper, S.N., Maxwell, H.W.R., Capolupo, A., Heck, A.J.R., Krause, K.L., Bostina, M., Scheltema, R.A., Staals, R.H.J. and Fineran, P.C. (2017) Spacer capture and integration by a type I-F Cas1-Cas2-3 CRISPR adaptation complex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1618421114.


    First Round of EM Student Award Closes September 1st 2017

    Undergraduate and postgraduate students enrolled at the University of Otago are welcome to apply for the Electron Microscopy Student Research Award. The award provides 15 hours of electron microscopy time and aims to advance the initiation of new research projects that utilise electron microscopy. The deadline for applications is the 1st of September 2017. For more details visit the EM Student Award Webpage.

    Monthly Microscopy Meeting

    The next meeting is at 9:00AM Thursday the 25th of May, in the seminar room of the Benham (Zoology) building.
    There will also be a sales presentation at 1.OOPM on Thursday the 25th of May in room 120 of the Hunter Centre.

    Apreo: the most versatile high-performance SEM subnanometre resolution, and the best contrast from the most sensitive samples

    Dr. Ryan Shaw Materials & Structural Analysis (formerly FEI) Thermo Fisher Scientific

    OCEM MMM May

    Paper of the Month

    Yarragudi, S.B., Richter, R., Lee, H., Walker, G., Clarkson, A., Kumar, H. and Rizwan, S.B. (2017) Formulation of olfactory-targeted microparticles with tamarind seed polysaccharide to improve nose-to-brain transport of drugs. Carbohydrate Polymers, 163:216-226,


    Monthly Microscopy Meeting

    The next meeting is at 9:00AM Thursday the 27th of April, in the seminar room of the Benham (Zoology) building.

    Round table: SEM in life and material sciences at Otago

    The OCEM intends to purchase an SEM to bring new capabilities to the unit. In order to decide on the optimal configuration, we have organised several presentations by providers. Last month we had JEOL and in the middle of May we will have Zeiss. At this month's microscopy meeting we will have a round table to analyse new technologies and their specific advantages for different projects (i.e. serial block facing SEM, array tomography, etc). Allan Mitchel will have a couple of slides presenting the options, after which we will try to discuss specific needs of each user.

    key words: SEM vs. TEM; large volumes vs. high resolution; large data sets and acquisition time; localization and colocalization; correlative microscopy.

    Paper of the Month

    Barad, Z., Grattan, D. and Leitch, B. (2017) NMDA Receptor Expression in the Thalamus of the Stargazer Model of Absence Epilepsy. Scientific Reports, 7:42926; doi: 10.1038/srep42926.


    Special Seminar

    1PM on Thursday 30th March in Room 123, first floor of the Huntre Centre (Great King Street).

    Anna Liew, JEOL Singapore
    "Frontiers in SEM, TEM Imaging and Microanalysis"

    Anna is a product specialist from JEOL Singapore. She will talk about about the rapidly developing technqiue of serial section scanning electron microscopy (a relatively quick technqiue for tracing specific structures through tissue over a long distance at high resolution, i.e neurons though brain tissue) and advances in elemental analysis detectors.

    Monthly Microscopy Meeting

    The next meeting is at 9:00AM Thursday the 30th of March, in the seminar room of the Benham (Zoology) building.

    Vitaly Lozbin, JEOL Australia
    "The latest application of FE SEM in Serial Block Face imaging and sub-10nm EDS microanalysis"

    Vitaly is a product specialist from JEOL Australia. He will talk about how an ultra high resolution field emission gun scanning electron microscope (FE SEM) equipped with Gatan 3View stage offers life science researchers the ability to obtain in-situ 3D data at remarkably fine depth resolution by operating a high-precision ultra microtome within the FE SEM specimen chamber. Optimisation of electron optics and utilisation of multi-EDS set up enables imaging and analysis of sub-10nm particles in Immuno-Electron Microscopy applications.

    OCEM MMM March

    Paper of the Month

    Hammer, N. (2017) Site-dependent acellularization effects explain altered tissue mechanics: ultrastructural insights. Folia Morphologica, DOI: 10.5603/FM.a2017.0007


    Monthly Microscopy Meeting

    The next meeting is at 9:00AM Thursday the 23rd of February, in the seminar room of the Benham (Zoology) building.

    Laura Gumy, Department of Anatomy, University of Otago.
    "Visualising transport in neurons"

    Laura is a neurobiologist interested in the roles of cytoskeletal dynamics and protein trafficking in neurons - fundamental processes that when impaired can lead to the onset of neurodegenerative diseases or to deficits in nerve regeneration. She obtained her PhD from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, UK and subsequent post-doctoral training at the Centre for Brain Repair in Cambridge and at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands with Casper Hoogenraad.

    OCEM MMM Sept