Brittany White-Mathieu

2023 Regional Award Finalist — Post-Doc

Brittany White-Mathieu

Current Position:
Assistant Professor

University of New Hampshire (previously, Cornell University)

Chemical Biology

Recognized for: Advancing the field of chemical imaging to further our understanding of lipids and their role in cellular function and disease, including cancer. She has created a revolutionary method, Lipid Expansion Microscopy, that enables super-resolution imaging of lipids within cells using widely available instrumentation. White-Mathieu’s work enables the direct study of these compounds in cellular membranes where critical cell signaling events and nutrient exchange occur.

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Chemical Biology, Organic Chemistry, Synthetic Chemistry

Previous Positions: 

  • BS in Chemistry, University of New Hampshire
  • PhD in Chemistry, University of Oregon (Advisor: Ramesh Jasti)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Cornell University (Advisor: Jeremy Baskin)

Research Summary: 

Dysfunction at the cellular level can lead to many detrimental diseases and disorders, so understanding cellular processes is crucial to prevent the development of illness. Super-resolution imaging is an advanced imaging technique that overcomes the diffraction limit of light—a fundamental physical barrier that limits the resolution of traditional optical microscopes—allowing researchers to observe cells in detail. In particular, imaging cells at the sub-microscopic level allows scientists to observe the structure and processes that occur within cells, including cellular regulation and response. Brittany White-Mathieu, PhD, is advancing the field of chemical super-resolution imaging to further our understanding of an important class of biochemical compounds, lipids, and their role in cellular function and disease, including cancer. 

Lipids are a broad category of molecules that are fundamental building blocks of cells, forming cellular membranes and contributing to cellular signaling. Understanding the role of lipids is crucial to understanding cellular function, but most previous super-resolution imaging techniques were limited to laboratories with highly specialized equipment. White-Mathieu has created a revolutionary method, Lipid Expansion Microscopy (LExM), that enables the imaging of lipids within intact cells in unprecedented detail. In LExM, a cellular sample can be physically expanded while simultaneously preserving its delicate structure, allowing for increased resolution.

Further, White-Mathieu’s brilliant technique uses widely available instrumentation, opening up new possibilities for studying cellular membranes. Her method is already being adopted by chemical biologists and will certainly lead to new discoveries on the role of lipids in disease. White-Mathieu is clearly a rising star at the intersection of organic chemistry and cell biology who is poised to make a lasting impact on the field.

“I am fascinated by the ways that biological systems use chemicals to regulate cellular environments and determine physiological outcomes, so my research interests are centered on designing tools to understand the chemical environment of a cell.”

Key Publications:

  1. B. M. White, P. Kumar, A.N. Conwell, K. Wu, J.M. Baskin. Lipid Expansion Microscopy. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2022.
  2. J. Flores*, B.M. White*, R.J. Brea, J.M Baskin, N.K. Devaraj. Lipids: Chemical Tools for Their Synthesis, Modification, and Analysis. Chemical Society Reviews, 2020. *equal contribution.
  3. B. M. White, Y. Zhao, T.K. Kawashima, B.P. Branchaud, M.D. Pluth, R. Jasti. Expanding the Chemical Space of Biocompatible Fluorophores: Nanohoops in Cells. ACS Central Science, 2018.
  4. E. R. Darzi, B.M. White, L.K. Loventhal, L.N. Zakhorov, R. Jasti. An Operationally Simple and Mild Oxidative Homocoupling of Aryl Boronoic Esters to Access Conformationally Constrained Macrocycles. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2017.

Other Honors:

2019Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship
2018Division of Organic Chemistry Travel Award
2013Raymond B. Seymour Award
2012Craig West Award for Undergraduate Professional Development
2012George and Dorothy Costarakis Galanes Endowmen
2011Mike and Bea Dalton Scholarship


In the Media: 

Cornell ChronicleLipid expansion microscopy uses the ‘power of click chemistry’