Education: Ph.D. Physics, 2018, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Fields of Study: Biological Physics
Research Interests: [Not currently research active] My Ph.D. work was in the field of biomedical physics. I characterized various depolarization mechanisms of hyperpolarized xenon during continuous-flow spin exchange optical pumping in search of inefficiencies in the process. Hyperpolarized xenon is an excellent source of image contrast in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Gas-phase imaging can be used to generate high-resolution images of the lungs while dissolved-phase imaging and spectroscopy can be used to detect brown adipose tissue in humans.
1. Burant, A., Antonacci, M., McCallister, D., Zhang, L. & Branca, R. T. Effects of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles on the longitudinal and transverse relaxation of hyperpolarized xenon gas. J. Magn. Reson. 291, 53–62 (2018).
2. Antonacci, M. A., Burant, A., Wagner, W. & Branca, R. T. Depolarization of nuclear spin polarized 129 Xe gas by dark rubidium during spin-exchange optical pumping. J. Magn. Reson. 279, 60–67 (2017).
3. Burant, A. & Branca, R. T. Diffusion-mediated 129Xe gas depolarization in magnetic field gradients during continuous-flow optical pumping. J. Magn. Reson. 273, 124–129 (2016).
4. Branca, R. T. et al. Detection of brown adipose tissue and thermogenic activity in mice by hyperpolarized xenon MRI. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 111, 18001–18006 (2014).