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Tessa Calhoun

Associate Professor


The Calhoun lab’s interdisciplinary research program specializes in the application and advancement of nonlinear spectroscopy and microscopy techniques for the study of a variety of complex systems. The overarching goal in all of our work is to understand the role of environmental effects by probing electronic excited states with a specific focus on imaging dynamic interfaces. To this end, we are currently employing optical techniques such as second harmonic scattering and microscopy to probe how living bacterial membranes uptake, transport, localize and efflux small molecules, including antibiotics. 

To learn more, visit our group website at


Post-Doc, Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, Princeton University
PhD, Chemistry from UC Berkeley
BS, Chemistry from Iowa State University


Click to view a full publication list on Google Scholar.

Facilitating flip-flop: Structural tuning of molecule-membrane interactions in living bacteria
M. J. Blake, H. B. Castillo, A. E. Curtis and T. R. Calhoun
Biophys. J., 2023, 122, 1735.

Monitoring membranes: The exploration of biological bilayers with second harmonic generation
E. F. Page, M. J. Blake, G. A. Foley and T. R. Calhoun
Chem. Phys. Rev., 2022, 3, 041307.

Small Molecule Sorting: A Fluorescence Study of Microemulsions
M. R. Hassan, B. A. Colon, J. Russell and T. R. Calhoun
J. Phys. Chem. B, 2022, 126, 4990.

Phosphate Ions Alter the Binding of Daptomycin to Living Bacterial Cell Surfaces
L. N. Miller, M. J. Blake, E. F. Page, H. B. Castillo and T. R. Calhoun
ACS Infect. Dis., 2021, 7, 3088.

Leaving the Limits of Linearity for Light Microscopy
M. J. Blake, B. A. Colon, and T. R. Calhoun
J. Phys. Chem. C, 2020, 124, 24555.

Total Internal Reflection Transient Absorption Microscopy: An Online Detection Method for Microfluidics
B. A. Colon, M. R. Hassan, A. Saleheen, C. A. Baker, and T. R. Calhoun
J. Phys. Chem. A, 2020, 124, 4160.
(part of the Time-Resolved Microscopy Virtual Special Issue)

Second Harmonic Generation Spectroscopy of Membrane Probe Dynamics in Gram-Positive Bacteria 
L. N. Miller, W. T. Brewer, J. D. Williams, E. M. Fozo, and T. R. Calhoun
Biophys. J.2019, 117, 1419.

Energetics at the Surface: Direct Optical Mapping of Bulk and Interfacial Electronic Structure in CdSe Quantum Dots using Broadband Electronic Sum Frequency Generation Microspectroscopy 
B. R. Watson, B. Doughty, and T. R. Calhoun
Nano Lett., 2019, 19, 6157.

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