Gilarde loves to scope out new research. But to explore his big ideas, he
has to look small.
Biology Department’s director of Scientific Imaging, Gilarde spends his days
looking through the lab’s five microscopes. He also assists faculty and
students with their microscopic research inside the Advanced Instrumentation
Center, located under the pathway between Hall-Atwater Laboratory and
these are liver cells,” he says, pointing out a cell’s image, glowing
through a transmission electron microscope, or TEM. “Do you see the
lights are off, and Gilarde explains how electrons are shot down through the
scope’s vertical column and are scattered through the sample, mounted on a
1/8-inch circular copper grid. The result is a clear, two-dimensional image
magnified 15,000 times.
one microscope Gilarde is extremely familiar with. Prior to coming to
Wesleyan in 1984, he worked for Yale University as a microscopist in the
Department of Pathology. There, he used a similar scope to examine segments
of liver, kidney or lung for autopsies.
kind of icky at first, but I got used to it,” he says.
Gilarde’s favorite, most commonly used – and most expensive – microscope
uses lasers to illuminate specimens under the Zeiss LSM 510 confocal scope.
This high-tech machine came to Wesleyan in 1999 at the price of $259,000,
funded in part from a National Science Foundation grant. It has the ability
to magnify objects more than 400 times and produces crisp, colorful
multi-dyed images. Many of these images have been published in a variety of
microscope that receives extensive use is the scanning electron microscope,
known as a SEM. The SEM creates detailed three-dimensional images by
bouncing and collecting electrons instead of light waves. Some SEM images
are even making their way on TV through programs like CSI.
scope is often used to examine micro-fossils, rocks and even brain tissue.
Physics students have used the scope to examine heat-treated metal.
know those nature shows that show the ant head close up or the
Gillette commercials that show the stubble sliced close to his face? Those
were made on an SEM like this,” Gilarde explains.
At most universities, undergraduate students
would not have access to an SEM, Gilarde says. But at Wesleyan, undergrads
use the all the microscopes regularly. One biology student is currently
using the SEM to count chambers in moths’ wings. Other students are using
the microscope to examine sediment core samples taken from the ocean as part
of Associate Professor Suzanne O’Connell's earth and environmental sciences
classes. Students also have identified surface features on quartz grains
that have been transported by glaciers under the scopes.
“Jeff is always accessible and willing help
students learn how to use the equipment,” says O’Connell, chair of the Earth
and Environmental Sciences department.
also oversees a Zeiss Axioplan florcent microsope and “babysits” two mammoth
nuclear magnetic resonance machines in the lab. Step past the danger sign
and anything magnetic will be erased, Gilarde warns.
marble counter top, among shelves of chemical dyes and powders, there are also
a traditional light microscope.
still get a lot of use out of that one,” he says. “We use it for low
magnification quality control of samples before we go to the big scope.”
has put his knowledge to use beyond the center, he served as the president
and vice president of the Connecticut Microscopy Society, and he sat on the
nomination board for the Microscopy Society of America.
co-instructs BIOL 344, Biology Structure, with Professor of Biology Jason
Wolfe, teaching students the theory, methods and interpretation of cellular
structure by using scanning electron microscopy, fluorescent
immunocytochemistry and confocal microscopy.
who holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Connecticut,
and a master’s degree in liberal studies from Wesleyan, is a member of
Wesleyan’s Local Emergency Planning Committee. He’s also received
certification by the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety, also known as
HazMat, to handle certain types of hazardous materials emergencies.
and his wife, Lisa, live in Cobalt with their 9-year-old twins, Alec and
Graham, and 6-year-old daughter, Camille. When he’s not busy spending time
with his family, this shade tree mechanic races his self-customized 1995 BMW
M-3 at speeds up to 150 mph around Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn.
have been my passion for years,” he says, pointing out a racing plaque he
earned for placing in the top 10 in a recent BMW Car Club of America race at
Gilarde’s other hobby is a bit fishy. Along with Biology Department Lab
Coordinator and officemate Bruce Libman, Gilarde cares for saltwater
aquariums, raising coral.
who has worked with Gilarde for six years, says Gilarde has bonded with many
students over his 20 years at Wesleyan.
the grad students love him because he doesn't pretend to be above or below
them,” Libman says. “He makes sure they get the best possible pictures with
the confocal, there is no "good enough.”
who is also Wesleyan’s assistant golf coach, leads construction projects for
Habitat for Humanity of Horry County during vacations to South Carolina four
times a year. For the past 15 years, he has also taken to the slopes as a
volunteer for Skiers Unlimited. The organization’s members team up with
physically challenged patients from the Connecticut Children’s Medical
Center in Hartford. To date, Gilarde’s taught more than 30 children,
including one young man with only one leg, to ski comfortably.
them is now skiing all by himself, and he can go faster than I can,” Gilarde
says, pointing out another prized skiing photo of Matt, using a walker on
to leave the world a better place. That’s my mission in life.”