Why the Dynamics of Living Systems? The phenomena manifest in living systems are amongst the most fascinating in the universe. While incredible advances by biologists in the 20th century led to discoveries of the stuff that makes living systems, discovering the dynamical principles that determine how the stuff comes together to give rise to novel functionality is a great challenge for the 21st century. Said simply, how does living stuff work? This transition, from tabulating the structures of systems to a dynamical foundation for their collective functionality occurred in 20th-century chemistry and physics, and it this goal that motivates our work.
Why now? Our abilities to image and sequence cells and tissues are giving us an unprecedented view of the dynamics of living systems. This data is quantitative, high-dimensional, and, to a large extent, remains intractable. To leverage these technologies to the maximum will require, I believe, new computation, new mathematics, new models, and perhaps even new physics. For those of us that are well-versed in the mathematical and physical sciences, and like solving hard problems, biology is the field to be a part of in the 21st century.
The group is comprised of problem-solvers that come from diverse backgrounds, including applied mathematicians, physicists, engineers, and biologists. The problems our theory group addresses are those revealed by close collaborations with experimentalists, and cutting-edge imaging and sequencing data. Projects involve a back-and-forth where experimental design, statistical analysis of generated data, and simple mathematical modeling inform each other. The goal is to synthesize diverse observations into an explanatory and predictive framework, with the eventual goal to guide and inspire new experiments in the lab and make discoveries.
I am trained as an applied mathematician and theoretical physicist, and I am fascinated by the dynamics of living systems and the emergence of novel functionality. While continuing to develop my strengths in computation and theory, I enjoy working closely with experiments and experimentalists, letting the nature of the questions be my guide.
Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics
2145 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208