The process of autophagy or the degradation of cellular components through the lysosomal machinery serves to protect the cell from the consequences of accumulating cell debris. Autophagy has been implicated in several important physiological and pathophysiological processes including starvation adaptation, anti-aging, tumor-suppression, and cell death. Development and screening of molecules that can initiate autophagy selectively is therefore important for therapeutic applications. Screening drugs for autophagy requires specific assays that can be used to selectively sense the initiation of autophagy. Furthermore, there is a need to distinguish between different autophagic pathways, like macro-, micro- and chaperone mediated autophagy. Our group is working toward the development of small molecule based ratiometric fluorescent sensors for macro autophagy. We are also interested in developing probes that can differentiate between different autophagic mechanisms in vivo.