Katherine “Kate” Elfer

I now officially hold a doctorate of philosophy in Biomedical Engineering. I currently still work with the Tulane University with the Translational Biophotonics Lab, under the direction of Dr. Quincy Brown but am looking to further my expertise in biomedical research with postdoctral work in a variety of positions.

I was raised in Pearl River, Louisiana, a little town across Lake Ponchartrain from New Orleans. During the lull immediately after Hurricane Katrina (when all there was to do was clean during the day and talk and read at night), my father introduced me to Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman and from there the concept of nanotechnology. In 2012, I received a Bachelor’s degree in Nanosystems Engineering from Louisiana Tech University. At La Tech, I became interested in microscopic imaging devices, especially when combined with understanding pathology and disease monitoring. As both a NAE Grand Challenges Scholar and NSF Graduate Research Fellow, I have been able to formalize my interest in translational imaging research in my graduate career. A concise list of all research, funding, and community accomplishments can be found in my Curriculum Vitae.

My research has focused on the development of biomedical imaging equipment, primarily spectroscopy and fluorescence microscopy, for use in improving clinical care of patients. My primary area of interest is  the development of novel stain methods for the replication of traditional histology. The long-term goal of my work is to develop novel technologies and systems that can improve disease detection and diagnosis. By working with clinicians throughout the diagnostic pipeline, I believe we can increase adoption rates and shorten the time to development by targeting immediate needs. More information on my current research and past publications can be found in the Research section of this website.

I am also extremely interested in teaching and mentorship, as I strongly believe that STEM education relies on a foundation of inquiry, ethics, and selective guidance. Every level of student, PK through Continuing Education and Graduate Education, requires guidance beyond textbooks and webapges to help students understand the breadth and depth of possibilities in STEM and their lives. Whether this guidance comes from in-person lectures, workshops, online-platforms for discussions, or simply being available will differ for the student and situation. More information about both my Teaching philosophy and Service work can be found on their respective pages.

Click here for links to news and media posts about my work.

Contact Information

Please send all inquiries to kate.elfer@gmail.com.

I also maintain a LinkedIn account and a Twitter that highlights recent STEM, outreach and educational activities.

Recent Highlights

Spring 2018 Highlights

  • Successfully defended my Ph.D. on March 29th
  • Presented my work on validating fluorescence histology for clinical use to OSA’s Biomedical Optics Congress
  • Received an award for Excellence in Graduate Research and Presentation by the Dean of the School of Science and Engineering of Tulane University
  • Presented my work on investigating fluorescent alternatives to specialized histology stains at SPIE’s Photonics West

Winter 2018 Highlights

  • Confirmed a May 2018 Graduation
  • Presented work on a method for specialized stains in fluorescence histology at the SPIE Photonics West Conference
  • Participated in the Society of Women Engineer’s Academic Leadership for Women in Engineering (SWE ALWE) program at WE’18 and awarded a NSF ASSIST Grant for travel to the program.

2017 Highlights

  • Named a INSIGHT into Diversity 2017 Inspiring Leader in STEM
  • Presented at the 2017 ASEE Annual Conference on Tulane’s Women+ in Science and Engineering Graduate-Postdoctoral community.
  • Served on the Tulane SSE Dean Search Committee as the Graduate Student Representative
  • Awarded the 2017 Dean Donald R. Moore award for a graduate student who has served in significant leadership positions during the year, has embodied servant leadership, and exhibited exceptional character
  • Presented at the 2017 OSA Congress on Life Sciences in San Diego, California on “A comparison of monochrome versus dual-color contrast for fluorescence histology”
  • Co-Founded a new graduate and post-doc group on Tulane’s campus, “Women in Science and Engineering” which has led several successful events and has 63 members.

2016 Highlights

  • Our first Boys at Tulane in Stem (BATS) event was a great success with 60 5th-7th grade New Orleans students participating.
  • Manuscript on DRAQ5 and Eosin was published in PLoS One:

Elfer KN, Sholl AB, Wang M, Tulman DB, Mandava Sree, Lee, BR, Brown JQ. “DRAQ5 and eosin (‘D&E’) as an analog to hematoxylin and eosin for rapid ‘zero-cut’ fluorescence histology of fresh tissues,” PLOS One.

  • Named a “Cowen Scholar” and recieved financial asssistance from the Valerie and Michael Corasaniti family. Cowen Scholars embody the leadership, passion and service of President Scott Cowen’s commitment to Tulane University and the Greater New Orleans Community
  • Voted in as board-member of the Greater New Orleans Science and Engineering Fair
  • Presented at the 2016 OSA Biophotonics Congress on DRAQ5 and Eosin as a potential method for fluorescence pseudo-H&E histology.
  • Began serving term as the president of the Graduate Studies Student Association


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