REVIEW: VMNC Field Trip – Advanced Microscopy Tour

I attended the UVic Advanced Microscopy Facility tour along with 21 other VMNC members on April 23rd, hosted by Dr. Elaine Humphrey. Any photography buff would be amazed at the capabilities of the two scanning emission microscopes (SEMs), capable of visualizing virtually anything down to the size of neurons in our brains and even atoms. Did you know that once you’ve seen one atom, you’ve seen them all?

This UVic facility has a world-renowned reputation and is available to outside users. The principle of operation of SEMs is to bombard specimens with high voltage electron streams in ultra-high vacuum chambers or towers. There is also considerable sample preparation required, using an abundance of ancillary equipment. But what makes this ultra-high technology very convenient to use and to produce hard copy photographs of images is today’s digital language and devices, including the lowly digital mouse.

Our host, Dr. Humphrey, amply interspersed her dialog with many humorous comments and asides. The tour was followed by an excellent luncheon on campus at the Graduate Student Center, which is open to the public; their lunch menu is highly recommended.

As a newcomer to Victoria, I marvel at how UVic, founded in 1963 and located on a wonderful campus, has achieved such a great reputation internationally.

Written by Richard Devereaux