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Scanning a cockroach – What a way to spend a Saturday night!

Posted by on August 1, 2012

MRI scan of a cockroach, resolution 50um, Society of Biology blog Biology Week competitionAn update from Katy Ordidge, from CABI, UCL, who is asking for wacky ideas of what to put in an MRI scanner

It was 7pm on a Saturday night, and Holly and I were putting a cockroach into the scanner…

Earlier in the week, we had taken delivery of a cockroach, and PhD students Tom Roberts and Holly Holmes had embedded it in a gel containing material that will light up in an MRI scanner. We had already reasoned that we could get a better image with a little extra help!

As we set up the scanner we discussed the competition entries we’ve had already. We are enthusiastic to get started on these great ideas!

Set up complete, we tried to shim the magnet (that is, to fine tune it and get rid of all the nasty little imperfections that would make our images less than perfect) – but disaster struck! No matter what we tried, the magnet thoroughly refused to behave itself. Luckily for us, PhD student and MRI wizard Raj Ramasawmy was on hand with helpful advice. After the shim was complete, we set the MR scanner to run overnight (a scan time of 11hrs 30mins) to produce this beautiful image.

Our next challenge, in honour of the Society of Biology’s flying ant survey, was imaging a queen flying ant. This is one of the smallest things we have ever attempted to scan in our MRI scanner. We came up with this lovely image (below), but unfortunately the wings were too small for our scanner.

Tom Roberts, cardiac MRI PhD student, Biology Week MRI scanner competitionHolly Holmes Alzheimers MRI PhD student, Biology week MRI scan competition

Add your ideas as a comment below!

Image of a queen flying ant done by the UCL CABI MRI for the Society of Biology blog

One Response to Scanning a cockroach – What a way to spend a Saturday night!

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