Cells are complex dynamical systems, operating out-of-equilibrium. How do the many components within the cell self-organize and assemble at the right place for proper biological and mechanical function? To study these complex systems, we simulate networks of many interacting components, and construct simplified models that are amenable to analytical theory. We use and develop modeling techniques from physics, chemistry, and engineering, including molecular models for thermodynamics, reaction-diffusion models for stochastic dynamics in cells, and continuum models for coupling to mechanics. We are interested in principles and design of optimal self-assembly, as well as the development of predictive models for cell biological processes. The dynamics of self-assembly in the cell are challenging to simulate due to their dependence on fast molecular motion and slow collective dynamics, along with coupling to energy-consuming reactions. The reaction-diffusion methods developed in our lab enable simulations inaccessible to existing software tools, with broad applications in cell biology and engineering design.
Host Prof. Baumgart