Dana H. Simmons is a graduate student at The University of Chicago, where she studies cerebellar physiology. The principle type of neuron in the cerebellum, the Purkinje neuron, is perhaps the most branched type of neuron in the nervous system. While performing confocal calcium imaging experiments, Dana was struck by the beauty of the Purkinje neurons’ complex dendritic branching. Inspired by the repeated appearance of this “Purkinje Pattern,” or branched structure, throughout microscopic and macroscopic nature (e.g., trees, rivers, coral, antlers, blood vessel networks, decision diagrams), Dana began to utilize the confocal microscope and lasers to highlight the Purkinje cell’s dendrites, and the textured tissue in which it lies.
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