All cells maintain an electrical potential across the plasma membrane driven by an ion gradient. This resting membrane potential is essential for cell growth and division, both in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Recent research has shown that, in addition to growth and division, bacteria utilize changes in this ion gradient for communication and memory. The Payne Lab develops devices to control and image memberane potential, simultaneously. We then use these tools do determine how changes in membrane potential alter bacteria cells. This research will advance applications in synthetic biology, engineered living materials, cell growth in industrial bioreactors, and screening for antibiotic resistance. Beyond bacteria, this research will inform researchers studying the resting membrane potential of mammalian cells with applications in regenerative medicine and cancer.