Okay, he was not wearing a cape, but Dr. Ann-Shyn Chiang does have x-ray vision. Dr. Chiang gave the Presidential Special Lecture yesterday, and I was amazed, if not blown away. The overarching goal of his work is to uncover the full-organism neuronal wiring diagram for Drosophila (to start). Initially, he was doing tissue-slice microscopy and then reassembling the images, but realized that after 10 years, he only had 60,000 of the approximately 120,000 fly neurons. He lamented the slowness of the task, and I thought his talk would end there with a call for us to work harder to achieve the goal.
But no, enter Superman. He established collaborations, and the team constructed an imaging tool, Synchrotron X-Ray Tomography, that can see through the entire fly and has nanometer resolution. Basically, we could see everything, neurons, organs, muscles. . . . Amazing!
Dr. Chiang’s lecture was informative, very well-organized, and entertaining. Thank you to Dr. Chiang, and thank you to SFN president Dr. Holly Cline and the lecture selection committee.