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Adventures in cell herding: understanding and controlling collective cell migration

We are working to accomplish for cells something like what a shepherd and sheepdogs bring to flocks of sheep: control over large-scale collective cellular motion. As coordinated cellular motion is foundational to many forms of multicellular life, being able to ‘herd’ or program large-scale cell migration raises exciting possibilities for accelerated healing, tissue engineering, and novel biomaterials.

Can cells walk & chew gum at the same time? Understanding how cells build tubes that fold and still function.

The study of cell shape has taught us many lessons about cellular function; however, we are just beginning to understand how this basic attribute drives form and function at the level of multicellular tissues. The goal of my research program is to uncover the emergent properties that cells use to generate and maintain higher-order tissue structures.

Snakes that jump and fly, and other oddities

Flying snakes are perhaps the world’s most unconventional gliders, turning their body into a wing by changing shape and undulating in the air. In this talk, I’ll discuss our experimental and theoretical efforts to understand the biomechanical features that underly this unique form of flight. Some of these specializations, such as jumping to cross gaps, also appear in sister taxa, suggesting that some aspects of their glide system were evolutionarily co-opted.


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