Ashley Ross is an analytical chemist with specific expertise in electrochemistry, microfluidics, neurochemistry and fluorescence microscopy. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cincinnati and faculty of the Neuroscience Graduate Program. Her lab is committed to developing electrochemical sensors, microfluidic platforms, and novel assays to detect and study neurochemicals which are important for brain-immune communication
Research in the Ross lab focuses on developing methods to probe signaling within and between the brain and the immune system and investigating the extent to which analytes interact at electrode surfaces. Our lab uses a combination of electrochemistry, materials science, microfluidics, and fluorescence microscopy to achieve these goals. Our lab is focused on (1) Developing new electrochemical sensors and methods to probe neurochemical signaling in the brain and immune tissue, (2) Developing and studying novel carbon surfaces for improved analyte-electrode electrochemical interactions, and (3) Designing microfluidic organ-on-chip platforms to study neuro-immune interactions.
(1) Monitoring neurochemical signaling in real-time
Traditional neurotransmitters and neuromodulators, like catecholamines and indolamines, can be released from not only neuronal cells, but also immune cells to aid in inflammatory modulation. The extent to which these neurochemicals are signaling within the immune system is not well understood. Fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV) coupled to carbon-fiber microelectrodes is an electrochemical technique widely used to study neurotransmitter release in the brain and provides the necessary temporal resolution needed to monitor rapid changes. Our lab is focused on developing methods to characterize and monitor rapid signaling within both the brain and immune system. Projects in this area focus on developing and applying new methods to study purine signaling in the brain during ischemia and neurochemical signaling in organs along the gut-brain-immune axis.
(2) Novel Carbon Surfaces
Carbon-fiber microelectrodes are common electrode materials for FSCV detection. Our lab is interested in investigating and designing novel carbon materials and developing new carbon-fiber microstructures and functionalizations to improve electrochemical detection of a variety of important neurochemical analytes. We focus on the fundamental interactions at the electrode-analyte interface to drive carbon surface design. Projects in this area are focused on fundamental electrochemistry, materials science, electrode surface characterization, and computational simulations of analyte-electrode interactions.
Microfluidics allows precise control over small volumes with exquisite spatial resolution. The brain is a complicated organ of the central nervous system, composed of several sub-regions ranging from a few microns to several hundred microns in size. Likewise, the central organ of the immune system (the lymph node) is fairly heterogeneous. The ability to better replicate complicated in vivo signaling but with precise control within and between organs along the gut-brain-immune axis would significantly advance our understanding of a host of inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. Our lab focuses on designing microengineered platforms to more precisely study the effects of stroke and neural communication between the brain and immune system.