Alex Small is an Associate Professor of Physics at California State Polytechnic University Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona), where he has been teaching and conducting research since 2007. Alex's main area of research is superresolution microscopy, i.e. techniques like PALM and STED that can achieve nanometer resolution in fluorescence microscopy of biological specimens. The primary question that Alex asks is: Given that the diffraction limit has been circumvented, what is the new limit that replaces it? Most of Alex's research is theoretical, drawing upon tools and concepts from quantum optics, statistics, kinetics, image processing, and other fields, to determine the maximum amount of information that can be obtained in a given amount of time in a particular type of experiment. Many of the insights from this work lead to work on image processing algorithms, as well as collaborations with people in biological research labs.
Alex has additional interests in light scattering theory, percolation theory, biophysics, and mathematical social science.
Prior to working at Cal Poly, Alex was a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD for two years. He got his PhD in physics from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and his Bachelor of Science in physics with a minor in economics from the University of Southern California. His work has been published in numerous journals, including Nature Methods, Optics Letters, Biomedical Optics Express, Optics Express, and Biophysical Journal. In 2014 he received a Distinguished Reviewer Award from OSA for his service as a journal reviewer.
Alex teaches a wide portfolio of courses, including numerous freshman and sophomore courses, an upper-division optics course, computational physics, classical mechanics (his favorite subject, because Lagrangians are so elegant), and biophysics. He has supervised numerous undergraduate research projects, two of which have led to awards from national organizations, and many of which have led to student-coauthored journal articles.
In addition to a general passion for learning about the fascinating scientific and technological work being done by people in southern California, Alex enjoys that way that being involved in the OSSC helps him to better connect his teaching with the challenges and opportunities that his students will encounter in industry.