Our research may be broadly classified into biophysics and soft condensed matter though a majority of our problems span the interface between the two fields.
Biology offers a rich and rewarding field for applying ideas and techniques from physics, resulting in exciting research that not only delves into the machinery of life but also enriches and advances physics. We use theoretical and computational methods from statistical mechanics and polymer physics to address issues such as cell motility, including force generation and membrane dynamics, macromolecule transport across membrane pores, cytoskeletal network dynamics, structure of biopolymer aggregates, intracellular transport, chemotaxis and drug design.
Our primary research area within Biological Physics is Biological Transport.
We focus on understanding how transport occurs in biological systems across different levels of organization and scale - ranging from macromolecules and vesicles being transported within the cell and across membranes to cells to communities of cells and higher animals across geographical scales.
The main questions that we have been pursuing are:
How are transport properties affected by
a. the structure and dynamics of the environment in which the transport takes place
b. stochastic nature of transported entity and environment
c. interactions among transported entities and with the environment
In the cellular context, the environment is structurally complex and exhibits unique dynamical properties. This results in novel types of transport phenomena and effects that in vivo systems manage to remarkably exploit. Examples include polymer transport across membrane pores, macromolecular transport through nuclear pores and motor driven intracellular transport. At higher levels, we are interested in eukaryotic cell motility, bacterial community motility and foraging in higher animals.
Soft Matter refers to phases of matter that have a number of accessible degrees of freedom at room temperature. They exhibit a variety of interesting features including a balance between entropy and enthalpy, sensitivity to thermal stresses and fluctuations and in many cases self-organization at mesoscopic length scales. Examples include polymers, foams, liquid crystals, colloidal systems and a number of biological systems. Our interests cover a variety of topics including colloidal dynamics, self-organization at surfaces, the geometry and dynamics of elastic sheets, transport in disordered systems and fluctuation induced forces. More details ...
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Our group is affiliated with the following graduate groups: