My research interest is engineering of advanced genetically encoded tools for neuroscience. I believe that new tools based on near-infrared fluorescent proteins and optogenetics are needed for a leap in technology to allow large-scale and deep-tissue studies. In our work, we apply directed molecular evolution to natural photoreceptors and existing engineered protein modules. The evolution includes rational and random mutagenesis, systematic variation of protein modules and custom-designed screening and selection strategies. We perform the whole cycle of probe development, from the rational design based on structural and biochemical data, evolution and optimization in bacteria, mammalian cell lines and primary neuronal culture, to in vivo testing and validation of the best probes in living mice.