ARC Winter Warmer


On Sat 9th December, the Advanced Research Centre held their Winter Warmer Festival. Researchers from the University of Glasgow, and local community groups came together to deliver public engagement activities around the theme of “Light”.

PhD students from CeMi presented a craft activity called Light Up Your Life, where participants crafted their own cells which doubled as unique Christmas tree decorations. The activity demonstrators also “stained” the cells with UV ink and revealed hidden messages to participants using a “fluorescent microscope”! The activity allowed researchers to discuss with participants how cells are the building blocks of life, and how we utilise fluorescent microscopy to image key structures within cells.

PhD Students Shaima and Julia helping participants craft cells

Fluorescent staining is a key technique used in our research labs, which help us differentiate one cell component from another. Fluorescent stains are small molecules that absorb a certain wavelength of light and emit a longer wavelength back. Different fluorescent stains are designed to only attach to certain parts of the cell, allowing us to observe specific cell components as they “light up”. This means that by adding specific wavelength filters in the microscope, we can see the emitted light, revealing the location of the stain within the cell.

By adding multiple types of fluorescent stain to a cell, we can take multiple images through the microscope, that show different structures of the cell simultaneously. This can help us understand how different components of the cell work and how they interact with each other.

Despite the rainy Glasgow weather, the activity was busy and popular with participants of all ages. We enjoyed seeing all the cells come to life from the creative minds of our participants! Our students were also delighted to chat to members of the public about the research we are completing in Glasgow and its real-world applications, and our careers in research.

Some of the amazing cells from the event