A Brief Explanation of Light Microscopy

First invented in the 1500s, light microscopes have not changed dramatically in the intervening years. Today, while some light microscopes incorporate digital technology to capture and record what they make visible, most still rely on the same principles that early light microscopes used.

Essentially, light microscopes allow researchers to see objects that are not otherwise visible to the naked eye. They achieve this by illuminating a subject (usually kept on a slide) and focusing the light through two lenses. The first lens, called the objective lens, concentrates light from a bulb onto the object being observed, thus focusing it within the microscope’s tube. The second, called the ocular lens, works like a tiny magnifying glass, enlarging the focused image so that the human eye can see it.

Researchers can view smaller objects by using different lenses, which offer sharper focus (for smaller objects) as they grow rounder and looser focus (for larger objects) as they grow flatter.

About Renate Bernstein

During her various expeditions as a marine science research assistant, Renate Bernstein has analyzed data with light microscopes as well as computer imaging software. After serving as a cardiac nurse for two years in the 1970s, Bernstein enrolled in the University of South Florida to pursue degrees in Marine Science. Today, she holds a Ph.D. in the discipline.

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About renatebernstein

Experienced biogeochemist and researcher Renate E. Bernstein has most recently worked on projects funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. Based in St. Petersburg, Florida, Dr. Bernstein specializes in the development and testing of instrumentation for the assessment of oceanic carbon parameters; crucial to a better understanding of global climate change and its effect on the world’s ocean. Dr. Bernstein is also considered to be a world expert on the subject of acantharians; ubiquitous microscopic oceanic plankton that can dictate oceanic elemental concentrations and have been implicated in the formation of the heretofore enigmatic marine barite. Additionally, Dr. Bernstein has worked with microscopic plankton called foraminifera, used as a proxy in determining the viability of coral reef systems. Much of this research entailed month-long seagoing research expeditions around the world as well as laboratory work. 
A longtime affiliate of the University of South Florida's College of Marine Science, Renate E. Bernstein has completed investigations funded by the National Science Foundation into a variety of ocean phenomena, including the relationship between sediment trap collection efficiency and their hydrodynamics in the Sargasso Sea. These traps were deployed at various depths within the water column and were used to collect particulates at varying ocean depths. These particulates were then analyzed to glean an understanding of the types and amounts of microscopic material prevalent within the water column. Dr. Bernstein was also a member of a team of scientists studying the effect of Asian dust in the Northern Pacific Ocean. This dust, born of massive dust storms, travels great distances and has been implicated in promoting ocean productivity by providing necessary nutrients. 
 Renate Bernstein completed a B.A. degree in Mathematics and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Marine Science at the University of South Florida. A dedicated student, Renate E. Bernstein secured induction into the Phi Kappa Phi honor society, won a Knight Fellowship for academic achievement, and published her findings in a wide range of eminent peer-reviewed journals. Over the course of her career, she has submitted and published articles in scientific journals such as Environmental Science & Technology, Marine Chemistry, Deep-Sea Research, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Science and Nature. Additionally she has contributed chapters in two books; a two-volume book entitled South Atlantic Zooplankton and another entitled Marine Particles: Analysis and Characterization. Originally trained as a nurse, Renate E. Bernstein provided intensive care to hospital patients at Boston City Hospital for several years before entering the field of marine science. Dr. Bernstein earned her R.N. from the Boston City Hospital School of Nursing where she specialized in cardiac nursing.
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