Experiences in Academia: Development of Time Resolved Flow Cytometry While Navigating Career Challenges and Successes in Chemical & Materials Engineering (First Video as Part of the CYTO Women Webinar Series)
About the Speaker
Jessica Houston, PhD
New Mexico State University
Jessica Perea Houston, PhD, is a professor in chemical & materials engineering at New Mexico State University (NMSU) in Las Cruces, NM (2009-present). Jessica received her PhD in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University (2005) and was a director’s postdoctoral fellow at the Los Alamos National Laboratory Bioscience Division (2006-2009). She is an alumna of NMSU (’00) and is from Santa Fe, NM.
Her research expertise is biomedical instrumentation development with an emphasis on time-resolved flow cytometry systems development, biophotonics, and optofluidics. Jessica directs a flow cytometry instrumentation lab at NMSU, has advised over 60 graduate students, undergraduate students and/or postdocs throughout the 12.5 years she has been at NMSU. Her research is currently supported by a National Institutes of Health R01 grant “Microflow time-resolved flow cytometry for FRET and Fluorescent Protein Development.”
Jessica has been active in multidisciplinary research projects that have involved many collaborators, institutions, and international partners. She and her team have presented over 400 abstracts at conferences that range from local to international. She has published over 50 papers related to her research, has one patent, and has been invited to over 30 different colloquia and conferences, where she has made formal invited presentations related to her research. Jessica was a Faculty Fulbright Scholar in Japan for 6 months in 2018. She has received numerous grants and awards including her current NIH R01 award and the NSF CAREER award in 2012. She became a Scholar of the International Society for the Advancement of Cytometry in 2012 and won Best Paper in the journal Cytometry Part A in 2015. She has also received many awards at NMSU including the Synergy-One award (NMSU College of Engineering) Outstanding Junior Faculty (NMSU Hispanic Faculty and Staff Caucus); the Early Career Award (NMSU Research Council) and the Distinguished Career Award (NMSU Office of the Vice President for Research)
Jessica is currently associate editor for the Journal, Cytometry Part A and is a standing member of the Cell & Molecular Technologies Study Section for the National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review. Jessica has been actively involved in ISAC for 10 years and a member of ISAC for 16 years. She is ISAC Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee. She is also an executive committee member ISAC. She helped found the CYTO Women taskforce within ISAC and has been chair of the Scientific Communications Committee. She was on Council from 2012-2016. Jessica also is/has been a member of the following committees: Scholars, Leadership Development, CYTO Women, Transition & Personnel, Committee Liaison Collective, Mission Continuity, Awards, Nominating, CYTO Planning, and Fundraising. She has continued to participate in the planning of the CYTO congress and has attended most CYTO meetings since 2008. In other organizations, Jessica is a leader—she was chair of the entire Biophotonics session for the Conference on Lasers and Optics (CLEO) for 3 years (2017-2019). In 2021 Jessica was invited to co-chair the Photonics West BiOS Imaging, Manipulation, and Analysis of Biomolecules, Cells, and Tissues conference in San Francisco, CA.
Jessica also has experience participating, learning, and working in the general area of diversity and inclusion. As a Hispanic female, Jessica has been quite interested in advancing minority initiatives. She is involved in many minority societies and programs, and attends workshops and meetings related to underrepresented minority (URM) priorities. She was a participant in the 2015 cohort of the Linton-Poodry SACNAS Leadership Institute, attended several Society of STEM Women of Color retreats and is a SSWOC member. She has participated in the 2019 AAHHE (American Association of Hispanics in Higher Ed) conference to formulate a strategic plan with the NMSU Vice President for Research. She and her students regularly attend the SACNAS and ABRCMS annual meetings. She participates in many workshops related to diversity in STEM including recent ones held on An Inclusive Academy: Achieving Diversity and Excellence (by authors: Abigail Stewart and Virginia Valian) and a Women in STEM book club. She has advised more than 30 minority undergraduates in research, and seven graduate students and postdocs. In total Jessica has mentored more than 50 undergraduates in research, advised six PhD degrees and eight MS degrees. She is now mentoring two minority RISE PhD students, one minority MARC undergraduate researcher, three minority undergraduate research students, and two postdoctoral fellows.
In cytometry, quantitative interpretation of cell function and morphology at a single-cell level can be accomplished through many different approaches that range in how the detectors function, excitation light is delivered, cells are moved (fluidics), and data are processed. Moreover, cytometers have been adapted for imaging, mass spectrometry, full spectral analyses, unique sorting/lab-on-a-chip approaches, and machine learning. Yet among the plethora of ways a cell can be quantified as it passes a laser beam, fluorescence decay is rarely captured. The average time fluorescent molecules within the cell spend in the excited state is typically ignored because of the challenges related to evaluating fluorescence lifetimes at a high throughput. Over several years, our laboratory has taken cytometers and introduced a variety of lifetime technologies onto these systems for analysis and sorting. Lifetime sensing with cytometry is achievable using a wide range of cytometric architectures. Some examples of these approaches will be discussed, as will new protocols and applications we are developing. The main cellular assays that we focus on include measurements of Förster resonance energy transfer and metabolic mapping of cells by NAD(P)H lifetime sensing. It is non-trivial to capture heterogeneous time-resolved information from several different excitable molecules when excitation is observed from single cells and particles in fluidic states. Therefore, the opportunities for addressing such challenges will also be presented. Additionally, the experiences had by Dr. Houston during her career will be discussed including current opportunities for diversifying academia and the challenges for women in engineering.
- Discuss the benefits of time resolved flow cytometry
- Compare and contrast lifetime analysis for imaging and cell sorting
- List various ways in which lifetime as a cytometric parameter enhances cytometry assays and protocols
- Discuss current challenges faced in academia by women in STEM
- List opportunities for enhancing diversity at your institution and developing plans for inclusion and equity.
Who Should Attend
The broad cytometry community and scientists interested in topics related to diversity and inclusion.
CMLE Credit: 1.0