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Joy P. Dunkers, Ph.D.

Research Interests

My current research focuses on using novel optical imaging technologies to non-invasively probe cell response in a three-dimensional environment. We use collinear optical coherence microscopy (OCM) in conjunction with two-photon fluorescence microscopy (TPM) in a high speed system to interrogate the effect of scaffold structure on cell viability, proliferation and differentiation. OCM is well-suited to this application because of the unparalleled combination of resolution (~1 um) and sensitivity (>100 dB). TPM has proven to be an extremely powerful technique for understanding cell viability, differentiation, and protein expression in tissue engineering and provides complementary information to the structural characterization provided by OCM.

In the IMS Shape Metrology project, scientists, engineers and mathematicians work together to develop computational solutions to problems that relate shape to function in the areas of bio- and materials science and manufacturing. Our specific work addresses finding relationships between scaffold properties and cell response through: identifying critical 3D scaffold shape metrics that influence cell response, developing critical population and single cell shape metrics for early detection of cell response to the scaffold environment, and implementing 3D scaffold and cell shape metric software to identify differentiated cells.

Other research interests include:

  • Proteins on Surfaces
  • Vibrational Spectroscopy
  • Image Processing
  • Cellular Mechanotransduction


Awards and Honors

2007: Department of Commerce Gold Medal 


Contributing government editor to Biomaterials Forum, a publication of the Society for Biomaterials.

Photo of Joy Dunkers


Physical Scientist
Polymers Division
Biomaterials Group

Employment History:

1993 - present: Physical Scientist, Polymers Division, NIST

2005 - 2007: Project leader, Biomechanics Project, Polymers Division, NIST

2002 - 2005: Project leader, Multimodal Imaging and Quantitative Visualization Project, Polymers Division, NIST


1993: Ph.D., Macromolecular Science, Case Western Reserve University

1991: M.S., Macromolecular Science, Case Western Reserve University

1988: B.S.E., Macromolecular Science with Honors, Case Western Reserve University


Phone: (301) 975-6841
Fax: (301) 975-4977