Biology professor produces film for Celldance


Last year, Gannon University biology professor Elisa Konieczko, Ph.D., nominated the Douglas Robinson Lab at Johns Hopkins University to be one of three labs to present its research in film at the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB).
This year, the ASCB public information committee, also known as Celldance Studios, nominated Konieczko to produce one of the films that was presented at this year’s meeting, which took place Dec. 3-7 in San Francisco.
Konieczko was given the task of producing the film that would present the research done in the lab of Roberto Weigert, Ph. D., in Bethesda, Md. Konieczko, who went into the project with no prior experience in film production, contacted the Douglas Robinson Lab to ask what its previous producer had done well and what it wished he had done differently.
The two biggest pieces of advice she received were to be especially critical of “lab jargon,” or scientific slang that would not be easily understood by the general public, and to help the scientists conducting the research to stay on task in order to meet deadlines.
She was also responsible for cutting the film down to meet the sub-six minute requirement. When she was presented with the first storyboard, it consisted of 30 slides and much more than enough material.
“I looked at all of his videos, and as a scientist I said, ‘These are the most interesting ones,’” Konieczko said.
“He’s got so much video that’s spectacular, but you can’t show it all.”
The research being presented in the film was on how cell membranes change their shape to move through the different pathways between tissues of the body. Weigert’s lab used sub-cellular intravital microscopy (SCIV), a new cutting-edge technology that allows scientists to look at cells in live animals rather than in a dish.
The animals’ cells were altered to express fluorescent proteins that glowed in the dark, which Konieczko said does not hurt the animal in any way. She also said that while it is very easy to do this with cells in a dish, it is much more difficult to do in living animals.
“I had a lot of fun with it,” Konieczko said.
“It was certainly a learning experience for me, too.”
Gaining experience in film production is not the only benefit Konieczko has enjoyed by being a part of the ASCB.
Although Konieczko was not able to attend this year’s meeting, she already has plans to present collaborative research that she and her students performed with University of Rochester graduate student Zach Murphy at next year’s meeting in Philadelphia, all of which was made possible by the ASCB’s Mentoring, Active Teaching and Learning (MALT) program.
The MALT program brought Konieczko and Murphy together at a previous ASCB meeting. While Konieczko mentored Murphy on how to teach at a university like Gannon, Murphy allowed Konieczko and her cell biology students to learn about and gain experience using a research technique called flow cytometry.
Flow cytometry is a laser-based technique used to quickly and accurately count and profile cells in a fluid mixture, and Konieczko and her students were able to travel to Rochester, N.Y., to use the research-level equipment at the lab of James Palis, Ph. D., to analyze cells grown in labs at Gannon.
Konieczko’s students plan to do their own presentation of their research at Celebrate Gannon in the spring.
A link to the film that Konieczko produced can be found below. She said that she is extremely happy with the way the film turned out.
“I think it’s stunning,” Konieczko said. “I’m really proud of it and I just had a little tiny role.”

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