How are cancer cells detected?
Meet the Cancer Detectives—a team of scientists at the Skala Lab who develop new ways to treat cancer using laser microscopes. In the resources below, you’ll learn about these scientists and their lab, discover why their research matters in real life, and try out an activity. Take notes as you explore!
Meet The Scientists
There are 4 cards to read.
I am a professor at UW-Madison in Biomedical Engineering. I mentor people in my lab to become independent researchers, set the direction of our research, and communicate our results to the scientific community. 🔬
I take images with our microscope and run data analysis on them. I’m always trying to answer this question: how do changes to mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) impact our microscopes measurements of cells? 🦠
I take images of different types of cells found in tumors and create computer programs to understand how each cell type behaves in the tumor. 🖥️
I am a stem cell engineer. I generate human tissues with stem cells in the hope of repairing damaged organs. 🧬
Learn Why Research Matters
The Skala Lab studies cancer and develops new ways to treat it. In the following video, you’ll learn about why they research this through a real-world story about a high-school student who lost her dad to pancreatic cancer when she was in middle school.
Questions to Consider:
Kat is stepping up to make a difference. What other problems do you think science could solve? What steps could you take to get involved?
Kat wanted to learn as much as she could about cancer. What do you already know about cells and about cancer? What do you want to know about cancer?
“Nothing feels better than to actually make a difference in the thing that’s so problematic for you.”
Being a scientist means asking new questions and learning new things. Click through the topics below to ask questions of the scientists at the Skala Lab and learn about their research.
Click on a tab above to begin.
What is your lab and what do you study there?
What tools do you use to figure out if a cell has cancer?
How do you get cancer cells to study?
How do cancer cells develop in the first place?
What type of things do you look for when you're looking at cells?
I want to become a biologist. What advice do you have?
Science Practices Activity
Now put what you’ve learned into practice! Amani has images from her microscope. Can you help her identify how cancer cells look different from healthy ones, and how cancer treatments affect cells?
Graphic and Motion Design
Vicki Way Kipp
University of Wisconsin-Madison Cultural Linguistic Services
Science Education Consultant
Travis Tangen, WID
Kevin Anderson, PhD, DPI
Educator Guide and Activities
Amani Gillette, PhD
Melissa Skala, PhD
Amani Gillette, PhD
Tiffany Heaster, PhD
Tongcheng Qian, PhD
Morgridge Institute for Research
Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation
Wisconsin Institute for Discovery
Director of Education
Director of Television
Oshkosh Area School District, Oshkosh, WI
North Crawford High School, Soldiers Grove, WI
Medford Area Middle School, Medford, WI
Traeger Middle School, Oshkosh, WI
Funding Provided By
Timothy William Trout Education Fund
a gift of Monroe and Sandra Trout
Focus Fund for Education
Friends of PBS Wisconsin
Single Step Foundation