Biophysics Seminars Archive

Biophysics Seminar - Arseny Finkelstein
Mon, May 1, 2023, 12:30 pm1:30 pm

In the first part of my talk, I will focus on mechanisms that regulate interactions between brain regions and describe how state-dependent frontal cortex dynamics can gate information flow from the sensory cortex during decision-making in mice.

In the second part, I will focus on information flow within the frontal cortex…

José Alvarado : Connecting active “hardware” to biological “software”
Mon, Apr 24, 2023, 12:30 pm1:30 pm

The actomyosin cytoskeleton is a naturally occurring active gel found in virtually all mammalian cells. Its ability to contract allows cells to move, change shape, exert force, sense stiffness, and maintain constant tension. In order for the “hardware” of actomyosin gels to support such a diverse set of mechanical tasks, it is tightly coupled…

Biophysics Seminar Series - Dr. Harald Hess
Mon, Mar 27, 2023, 12:30 pm1:30 pm


Volume or 3D electron microscopy EM continues to expand its potential for imaging ever larger biological entities. Images from diamond knife cut sections launched the field of volume EM. An alternative of imaging the sequentially cut block face offered easier use and registration. FIB-SEM or Focused Ion Beam Scanning Electron…

Biophysics Seminar Series - Alison Patteson
Mon, Mar 20, 2023, 12:30 pm1:30 pm


Cell migration is a critical process underlying proper tissue maintenance. While a soft nucleus allows a cell to squeeze through small pores, the resulting physical stress can lead to nuclear damage and genomic variability. We have shown that the cytoskeletal intermediate filament protein vimentin protects against DNA damage…

Heather Lynch: Emergent pattern formation in penguin colonies: Life at the crossroads of ecology, geology, computational geometry, and computer vision
Mon, Feb 20, 2023, 12:30 pm1:30 pm

Aggregations are common in biological systems at a range of scales and may be driven by exogenous constraints such as environmental heterogeneity and resource availability or by “self-organizing” interactions among individuals. One mechanism leading to self-organized animal aggregations is captured by Hamilton’s “selfish herd” hypothesis, which…

Joerg Bewersdorf: All-optical Super-resolution Imaging of Molecules in Their Nanoscale Cellular Context
Mon, Feb 13, 2023, 12:30 pm1:30 pm

Super-resolution optical microscopy has become a powerful tool to study the nanoscale spatial distribution of molecules of interest in biological cells, tissues and other structures over the last years. Imaging these distributions in the context of other molecules or the general structural context is, however, still challenging. I will present…

Thibaud Taillefumier: Replica-mean field limits of metastable dynamics
Mon, Feb 6, 2023, 12:30 pm1:30 pm

In this talk, we propose to decipher the activity of neural networks via a “multiply and conquer” approach. This approach considers limit networks made of infinitely many replicas with the same basic neural structure. The key point is that these so-called replica-mean-field networks are in fact simplified, tractable versions of neural networks…

Na Ji: Imaging the brain at high spatiotemporal resolution
Mon, Dec 12, 2022, 12:30 pm1:30 pm

To understand computation in the brain, one needs to understand the input-output relationships for neural circuits and the anatomical and functional properties of individual neurons therein. Optical microscopy has emerged as an ideal tool in this quest, as it is capable of recording the activity of…

Fellow candidate symposium II
Tue, Dec 6, 2022, 9:00 amWed, Dec 7, 2022, 5:00 pm
Bradley H. Dickerson: Functionally stratified encoding in a biological gyroscope
Mon, Dec 5, 2022, 12:30 pm1:30 pm

Flies are among nature’s most agile flying creatures. This exquisite maneuverability is due in part to their possession of specialized mechanosensory organs known as the halteres. The halteres are evolved from the hindwings and provide flies with dynamic mechanosensory feedback on a wingstroke-to-wingstroke basis. Additionally, halteres are…

Mustafa Mir : Molecular Kinetics of nuclear organization and transcription regulation during embryonic development
Mon, Nov 28, 2022, 12:30 pm1:30 pm

During early development gene expression patterns progressively emerge as cell fates are determined and the embryo takes form. The regulation of patterning occurs across a broad range of spatial and temporal scales. These scales range from the molecular scale dynamics of regulatory proteins binding to genomic loci to activate or repress…

Tian-Ming Fu: Probing Biological Dynamics in Multicellular Organisms: from long-term electrophysiology to high-resolution imaging
Mon, Nov 21, 2022, 12:30 pm1:30 pm

The urgency to probe biological dynamics is impeded by a major challenge: the large dynamic range of biological processes—interactions of molecules within milliseconds can lead to changes across the whole-organism over days to years. It calls for measurements with both high spatiotemporal resolution and large-scale long-term coverage. However,…

Anders Hansen: Dynamics of 3D Genome Structure and Function
Mon, Nov 14, 2022, 12:30 pm1:30 pm

Animal genomes are folded into loops and topologically associating domains (TADs) by CTCF and loop extruding cohesins. These loops and domains are thought to play critical roles in regulating gene expression by regulating long-range enhancer-promoter interactions. But whether CTCF/cohesin loops are stable or dynamic structures was…

Kandice Tanner: Microenvironment regulation of metastasis
Mon, Nov 7, 2022, 12:30 pm1:30 pm

In the event of metastatic disease, emergence of a lesion can occur at varying intervals from diagnosis and in some cases following successful treatment of the primary tumor.  Genetic factors that drive metastatic progression have been identified, such as those involved in cell adhesion, signaling, extravasation and metabolism. However,…

Fellow candidate symposium I
Tue, Nov 1, 2022, 9:00 amWed, Nov 2, 2022, 5:00 pm

Nov 1, 2022, 9:00 am – Nov 2, 2022, 5:00 pm


Joseph Henry Room - Jadwin Hall




CANCELLED: Roseanna Zia: How Colloidal Physics Instantiate Life in Biological Cells
Mon, Oct 31, 2022, 12:30 pm1:30 pm

We are interested in how physics at the colloidal scale instantiate life in biological cells. While principles from physics have driven recent paradigm shifts in how collective biomolecular behaviors orchestrate life, many mechanistic aspects of e.g. transcription, translation, and condensation remain mysterious because…

Marc Gershow: Maggots! Making Memories and Reading Minds
Mon, Oct 10, 2022, 12:30 pm1:30 pm

My lab studies the brains of larval fruit flies as models of neural computation. We are interested in the rules by which the larval brain transforms sensory input into motor output to navigate an uncertain environment, how the larva’s brain changes these rules as it learns new information, and how these rules and changes are encoded in the…

CPBF Retreat
Wed, Sep 28, 2022, 9:00 am5:00 pm
Stephen Floor: On measurement in RNA biology
Mon, Sep 26, 2022, 12:30 pm1:30 pm

Measurement of natural systems typically involves perturbation and interpretation. In this talk, I will discuss the implications of measurement in the context of RNA in gene expression in human cells. I will focus on measurements of RNA biology using high-throughput sequencing, which are powerful for their scale but also involve perturbations…

Shenshen Wang: Limit and potential of immune learning against changing targets
Mon, Sep 19, 2022, 12:30 pm1:30 pm

The adaptive immune system is able to learn from changing experiences to better fit an unforeseen future, thanks to a large and diverse collective of cells expressing unique antigen receptors and capable of rapid Darwinian evolution. However, naturally occurring immune responses exhibit limits in efficacy, speed and capacity to adapt to novel…

Canceled and will be re-scheduled: Marc Gershow: Maggots! Making Memories and Reading Minds
Mon, May 2, 2022, 12:30 pm12:30 pm

My lab studies the brains of larval fruit flies as models of neural computation. We are interested in the rules by which the larval brain transforms sensory input into motor output to navigate an uncertain environment, how the larva’s brain changes these rules as it learns new information, and how these rules and changes are encoded in the…

Andrea Liu: How Materials Can Learn
Mon, Apr 25, 2022, 12:30 pm12:30 pm

How does learning occur? Neural networks learn via optimization, where a loss function is minimized by a computer to achieve the desired result. But physical networks such as mechanical spring networks or flow networks have no central processor so they cannot minimize such a loss function. An alternative is to encode local rules into those…

David Wolpert: Stochastic Thermodynamics of Distributed Systems
Mon, Apr 18, 2022, 12:30 pm12:30 pm

The new field of stochastic thermodynamics allows us to analyze the thermodynamic behavior of dynamic systems arbitrarily far from thermal equilibrium, and has produced many powerful theorems concerning phenomena completely absent in traditional statistical physics. However, to date stochastic thermodynamics has (mostly) been applied to systems…

Gijsje Koenderink: Cytoskeletal crosstalk in cell shape and mechanics
Mon, Apr 11, 2022, 12:30 pm12:30 pm

Mechanical stability and shape changes of cells are determined by the dynamic interplay of four distinct cytoskeletal networks, made of actin filaments, microtubules, intermediate filaments and septins. These four filamentous systems contribute different structural and dynamical properties, enabling specific cellular…

Sarah L. Keller: Phase-separating membranes of hungry yeast are tiny, living thermostats
Mon, Apr 4, 2022, 12:30 pm12:30 pm

Liquid-liquid phase separation of cell membranes exemplifies a biological system leveraging a physical concept to achieve a chemical end. Here, we show that yeast actively tune the transition temperature of their vacuole membranes to be close to the yeast's growth temperature, which implies that the membrane's proximity to the miscibility…

Arnold Mathijssen: Transport and delivery by active droplets and artificial microtubules
Mon, Mar 28, 2022, 12:30 pm12:30 pm

Understanding the physics of living systems allows us to design new materials that are active and adaptive, akin to cells and tissues. Conversely, these active matter systems can reveal fundamental principles in physics and biology. In this talk, I will discuss three systems that feature this synergy, ranging from the molecular to the…

Canceled and will be re-scheduled. Na Ji: Imaging the brain at high spatiotemporal resolution
Mon, Mar 21, 2022, 12:30 pm12:30 pm

To understand computation in the brain, one needs to understand the input-output relationships for neural circuits and the anatomical and functional properties of individual neurons therein. Optical microscopy has emerged as an ideal tool in this quest, as it is capable of recording the activity of neurons distributed over millimeter dimensions…

Madhav Mani: A Statistical (Physics) view of Organismal Development
Mon, Feb 28, 2022, 12:30 pm12:30 pm

After a century of biochemical and genetic onslaught on the embryo we are left with an inexhaustive parts list with an increasingly baroque logic. How do we begin to assemble complex living systems from knowledge of the parts list? In this talk I will attempt to pursue a statistical (physics) approach to discerning the design principles that…

Zvonimir Dogic: Sculpting liquid interfaces with active stresses
Mon, Feb 7, 2022, 12:30 pm12:30 pm

Controlling interfacial structure and dynamics of phase separating fluid mixtures is key to creating diverse functional materials. Traditionally, this is accomplished by controlling interface chemistry, through the presence of surface-modifying amphiphilic agents. Using a phase separating mixture of active and passive fluids, we study how…

Chris Wiggins, Just do the best you can: statistical physics approaches to reinforcement learning
Mon, Dec 13, 2021, 1:15 pm1:15 pm

The most celebrated corners of machine learning over the past decades are those successful at predicting - e.g., spam classification, medical diagnoses, or cat faces. But machine learning as actually used in practice is commonly prescriptive rather than predictive: decisions must be made in order to maximize a reward. The…

Andrew Gordus: Untangling the web of behaviors used in spider orb-weaving
Mon, Dec 6, 2021, 12:30 pm12:30 pm

Many innate behaviors are the result of multiple sensorimotor programs that are dynamically coordinated to produce higher-order behaviors such as courtship or architecture. Extended phenotypes such as architecture are especially useful for ethological study because the structure itself is a physical record of behavioral intent. A particularly…

Jeff Gore: Emergent phases of ecological diversity and dynamics mapped in microcosms
Mon, Nov 15, 2021, 12:30 pm12:30 pm

Natural ecological communities display striking features, such as high biodiversity and a wide range of dynamics, that have been difficult to explain in a unified framework. Using experimental bacterial microcosms, we have performed the first direct test of recent theory predicting that simple aggregate parameters…

Canceled. To be re-scheduled. Danielle Bassett: TBD
Mon, Nov 8, 2021, 12:30 pm12:30 pm
Alison Sweeney: The Physical Design of Optimum Solar Resource Utilization in Giant Clams
Mon, Nov 1, 2021, 12:30 pm12:30 pm

Photosynthesis presents a paradox of solar energy: the maximum quantum efficiency of photosystem II likely surpasses that of any engineered system, but in environments with high solar flux, photosynthetic organisms are famously wasteful and resource inefficient. For example, even in agricultural systems bred for maximum resource efficiency such…

Jeanne Stachowiak: Disordered protein networks as synergistic drivers of membrane traffic
Mon, Oct 25, 2021, 12:30 pm12:30 pm

Membrane curvature is required for many cellular processes, from assembly of highly curved trafficking vesicles to extension of needle-like filopodia. Consequently, defects in membrane curvature play a role in most human diseases, including altered recycling of receptors in cancer and diabetes, targeting of filopodia by pathogens, and hijacking…

Louise Jawerth: Fiber growth, ultra-low surface tensions and glass-like aging: Protein condensates as novel materials
Mon, Sep 27, 2021, 12:30 pm12:30 pm

We have recently discovered that there are biological proteins that phase separate out of solution to form protein-dense droplets. These so-called protein condensates have been identified in an extremely large range of important biological processes. Increasingly, we find that the exact material nature of the liquid-like condensates (such as…

Andrej Kosmrlj: Pattern formation in biological systems via mechanical instabilities and phase separation
Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 12:15 pm12:15 pm

Pattern formation is ubiquitous in biological systems. While pattern formations are often associated with Turing-like reaction-diffusion systems, biology also exploits many other mechanisms such as mechanical instabilities and phase separation. In this talk, I will discuss how mechanical instabilities cause the wrinkling of bacterial biofilms…

Welcome back lunch
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 12:15 pm12:15 pm
Justin Kinney: Massively parallel assays, machine learning, and the biophysics of gene regulation
Mon, May 10, 2021, 12:15 pm12:15 pm

Gene expression in all organisms is controlled by short DNA and RNA sequences called cis-regulatory elements (CREs). Proteins in the cellular milieu bind to nucleic acid sequences present within CREs, interact with one another, and thus form macromolecular complexes that modulate the expression of nearby genes. My lab uses…

Rosalind Allen: Geometry of bacterial growth and division
Mon, May 3, 2021, 12:15 pm12:15 pm

The rod-shaped bacterium Escherichia coli proliferates by a process of elongation, followed by constriction at its centre to create new cell poles. Despite intense study, some apparently simple questions about the dynamics of growth and division in E. coli continue to be debated - these include whether the cell length increases exponentially or…

Julia M. Yeomans: Active nematic physics in cell layers and tissues
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 12:15 pm12:15 pm

Active materials such as bacteria, molecular motors and eukaryotic cells continuously transform chemical energy taken from their surroundings to mechanical work. Dense active matter shows mesoscale turbulence, the emergence of chaotic flow structures characterised by high vorticity and self-propelled topological defects. I shall describe the…

Susanne Still: Thermodynamics of information processing
Mon, Apr 19, 2021, 4:00 pm4:00 pm

Living systems need to remember information about their environment in order to take decisions that ultimately ensure survival. But storing information about past experiences costs energy, while only a fraction of the vast amount of information available can be useful to the living system. An intelligent memory formation strategy should take…

Nikta Fakhri: Broken symmetries in living matter
Mon, Apr 12, 2021, 12:00 pm12:00 pm

Active processes in living systems create a novel class of non-equilibrium material composed of many interacting parts that individually consume energy and collectively generate motion or mechanical stress. In this talk, I will discuss experimental tools and conceptual frameworks we develop to uncover laws governing order, phase transitions and…

Gijsje Koenderink: TBD
Sun, Apr 11, 2021, 12:15 pm12:15 pm
Satu Palva: Multi-scale synchronization dynamics in human cognition
Mon, Mar 29, 2021, 12:15 pm12:15 pm

Perception, attention and working memory are fundamental cognitive functions, which are based on parallel processing in many brain areas. Neuronal oscillations at sub-second timescales and their phase correlations a.k.a. phase-synchronization are putative mechanisms for the coordination of neuronal processing and…

Raymond E. Goldstein: Fluid and Light: Dinoflagellate Bioluminescence at the Single Cell Level
Mon, Mar 22, 2021, 12:15 pm12:15 pm

One of the characteristic features of many marine dinoflagellates is their bioluminescence, which lights up nighttime breaking waves or seawater sliced
by a ship’s prow. While the internal biochemistry of light production by these microorganisms is well established, the manner by which fluid shear or mechanical
forces trigger…

Kinneret Keren: Topological defects in the nematic order of actin fibers as organization centers of Hydra morphogenesis
Mon, Mar 1, 2021, 12:15 pm12:15 pm

Morphogenesis, the emergence of functional form in a developing organism, is one of the most remarkable examples of pattern formation in nature. Despite substantial progress, we still do not understand the organizational principles underlying the convergence of this process, across scales, to form viable organisms under variable conditions. We…

Karen Alim: Network morphology to store memories
Mon, Feb 22, 2021, 12:15 pm12:15 pm

Simple organisms manage to thrive in complex environments. Remembering information about the environment is key to take decisions. Physarum polycephalum excels as a giant unicellular eukaryote being even able to solve optimisation problems despite the lack of a nervous system. Here, we follow experimentally the organism's response to a nutrient…

Biophysics Lunch
Mon, Feb 8, 2021, 12:15 pm12:15 pm
Stephanie Palmer: How behavioral and evolutionary constraints sculpt early visual processing
Mon, Feb 1, 2021, 12:15 pm12:15 pm

An animal eye is only as efficient as the organism’s behavioral constraints demand it to be. Efficient coding has been a successful organizational principle in vision, and to make a more general theory, behavioral, mechanistic, and even evolutionary constraints need to be added to this framework. In our work, we use a mix of known computational…

Kranthi Mandadapu: On the role of motility and glassy dynamics in growth of bacterial monolayers into the third dimension
Mon, Nov 23, 2020, 12:15 pm12:15 pm

Many mature bacterial colonies and biofilms are complex three-dimensional (3D) structures. A key step in their developmental program is a transition from a two-dimensional (2D) monolayer into a 3D architecture. Despite the importance of controlling the growth of microbial colonies and biofilms in a variety of medical and industrial settings,…

Seppe Kuehn: A sparse mapping from structure to function in microbial communities
Mon, Nov 16, 2020, 12:15 pm12:15 pm

The metabolic function of microbial communities emerges through a complex hierarchy of genome-encoded processes, from gene expression to interactions between diverse taxa. Therefore, a central challenge for microbial ecology is deciphering how genomic structure determines metabolic function in communities. Here we show, for the process of…

Allan Drummond: Rethinking the cellular response to heat shock, from biophysics to physiology
Mon, Oct 26, 2020, 12:15 pm12:15 pm

Cells across the tree of life respond to a sudden, nonlethal rise in temperature--heat shock--in similar ways. Following heat shock, proteins and mRNAs form clumps, certain genes turn on, and protein synthesis and cell growth sharply decline. The standard interpretation of these long-studied phenomena has held that thermal energy causes…

Stefano Allesina: Predicting coexistence in experimental ecological communities
Mon, Oct 19, 2020, 12:15 pm12:15 pm

When experimenting with a large pool of species, a common problem is to determine a priori whether a certain subset of species can coexist when co-cultured. We propose a simple statistical model in which a number of species assemblages are observed, and the coexistence of novel assemblages is predicted out-of-fit. We…

Gurol Suel: The role of inorganic ions in bacterial resilience
Mon, Sep 28, 2020, 12:15 pm12:15 pm

We have been working to measure and understand how ion fluxes and ionic interactions regulate fundamental biological processes, and in particular promote stress tolerance in bacteria. I will present our recent work that builds on our discovery of action potentials generated within bacterial biofilms. Specifically, we showed…

Bill Bialek & Josh Shaevitz: State of the Center
Mon, Sep 14, 2020, 12:15 pm12:15 pm
Andrew Leifer - Princeton Open Ventilation Monitor: Project Update
Mon, May 18, 2020, 12:00 pm12:00 pm

Zoom meeting ID: 935 3760 0219

To receive a password, please register at

Helmet non-invasive ventilation has emerged as a useful tool to provide respiratory support to…

Vir Bulchandani: Digital herd immunity and COVID-19
Mon, May 11, 2020, 12:00 pm12:00 pm

Video recording is available at 

Zoom meeting ID: 967 8799 8386

To receive a password, please register at…

Xiaoliang Sunney Xie - In Search of the COVID-19 Cure: Neutralizing Antibodies via Single Cell Genomics
Mon, May 4, 2020, 10:00 am10:00 am

Zoom meeting ID: 988 1991 5715

To receive a password, please register at

Cristiano Galbiati: The Milano Mechanical Ventilator
Mon, Apr 20, 2020, 12:00 pm12:00 pm

Please join us here

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Bryan Grenfell and Jessica Metcalf: Dynamics of acute epidemic disease: from measles and influenza to Coronavirus
Mon, Apr 13, 2020, 12:00 pm12:00 pm

Please join us here

We review the dynamics of acute immunizing infections. We then use this as a backdrop to discuss the dynamics and control of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

Canceled - Stefano Allesina: Predicting coexistence in ecological communities
Mon, Mar 30, 2020, 12:00 pm12:00 pm

The study of small experimental communities has been key to the development of ecology as a discipline. Yet, for most ecological communities, the number of experiments required to build, model, or analyze the system vastly exceeds what is feasible, rendering these communities experimentally intractable. To address this challenge, we present a…

Canceled - Na Ji: Imaging the brain at high spatiotemporal resolution
Mon, Mar 23, 2020, 12:00 pm12:00 pm

To understand computation in the brain, one needs to understand the input-output relationships for neural circuits and the anatomical and functional relationships of individual neurons therein. Optical microscopy has emerged as an ideal tool in this quest, as it is capable of recording the activity of neurons distributed over millimeter…

Canceled - Allan Drummond: Rethinking the cellular response to heat shock, from biophysics to physiology
Mon, Mar 16, 2020, 12:00 pm12:00 pm

Cells across the tree of life respond to a sudden, nonlethal rise in temperature--heat shock--in similar ways. Following heat shock, proteins and mRNAs form clumps, certain genes turn on, and protein synthesis and cell growth sharply decline. The standard interpretation of these long-studied phenomena has held that thermal energy causes…

Andreas Gahlmann: Visualizing Bacterial Physiology at High Resolution using Single-Molecule Tracking and Lattice-Light Sheet Microscopy
Mon, Mar 9, 2020, 12:00 pm12:00 pm

Our lab develops new imaging approaches for visualizing bacterial physiology in relevant contexts: We use live-cell single-molecule localization microscopy and lattice-light sheet microscopy to access 3D spatial and temporal information with high resolution. At molecular and cellular length scales, our research focuses on understanding how Gram…

Andrew York: A bolt-on single-objective light-sheet design with uncompromised numerical aperture
Mon, Feb 24, 2020, 12:00 pm12:00 pm

Spinning disk confocal modules are “core facility friendly”; they insert conveniently between a commercial microscope base and camera, improve image quality and add no significant drawbacks. In contrast, high numerical aperture (NA) light sheet microscopy often requires radical sample modification, substantial user re-training and fully…

Cancelled. To Be Rescheduled. Stephanie Palmer: How behavioral and evolutionary constraints sculpt early visual processing
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 12:00 pm12:00 pm

While efficient coding has been a successful organizational principle in visual neuroscience, to make a more general theory behavioral, mechanistic, and even evolutionary constraints need to be added to this framework. In our work, we use a mix of known computational goals and detailed behavioral measurements to add constraints to the notion of…

Elizabeth Jerison: Dynamics of adaptive immunity in zebrafish
Mon, Feb 10, 2020, 12:00 pm12:00 pm

The immune responses that defend us against pathogens are driven by stochastic processes amongst populations of cells. Enormous progress in immunology over the last few decades has identified most of the components of this complex system, including the cell types and the molecules used for communication. But understanding how the dynamics of…

Sven van Teeffelen: Control of cell volume in rod-shaped bacteria
Mon, Feb 3, 2020, 12:00 pm12:00 pm

Bacteria exhibit a high degree of intracellular macromolecular crowding. To control the level of crowding cells must increase their volumes in response to the accumulation of biomass during growth. This coordination is fundamentally not understood in any cell type. Using rod-shaped bacteria Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis

Dmitry Rinberg: Cracking the olfactory code using behavior
Mon, Jan 27, 2020, 12:00 pm12:00 pm

Two of the most fundamental questions of sensory neuroscience are: 1) how is stimulus information represented by neuronal activity? and 2) what features of this activity are read out to guide behavior? The first question has been the subject of a large body of work across different sensory modalities. The second question remains a significant…

Navish Wadhwa: Environmentally regulated self-assembly of the bacterial flagellar motor
Mon, Dec 16, 2019, 12:00 pm12:00 pm

Macromolecular protein complexes perform essential biological functions across life forms. The assembly of such complexes is known to be regulated at the level of gene transcription, but little is known about the factors that control their assembly once the mature protein subunits enter their target space (cytoplasm, membrane, or cell wall)…

Hana El-Samad: Biological Feedback Control
Mon, Dec 9, 2019, 12:00 pm12:00 pm

Organisms are an evolutionary masterpiece of feedback control, featuring a mind-boggling capacity to self-correct. In this talk, we discuss our attempts to both understand feedback control in cells and to forward engineer it with de novo designed proteins.

Damon Clark: Mechanisms underlying visual illusions in flies
Mon, Dec 2, 2019, 12:00 pm12:00 pm

Visual systems detect many features of natural scenes, including motion. Motion detection guides critical behaviors like hunting, evading predators, and finding mates. It can be framed as an inference problem, in which light intensity measurements are combined to estimate a latent variable of image velocity. Interestingly, several patterns of…

Melike Lakadamyali: Super-resolution imaging of chromatin structure and dynamics
Mon, Nov 25, 2019, 12:00 pm12:00 pm

Nucleosomes help structure chromosomes by compacting DNA into fibers.  Chromatin organization plays an important role for regulating gene expression; however, due to the highly crowded nuclear environment and the nanometer length scales of chromatin fibers, it has been very difficult to visualize chromatin in vivo. We have overcome this…

Marija Zanic: Dynamic Architecture of the Microtubule Cytoskeleton
Mon, Nov 18, 2019, 12:00 pm12:00 pm

Microtubules are active biological polymers known to stochastically switch between phases of growth and shrinkage, a behavior termed ‘dynamic instability’. Microtubule treadmilling, in which the microtubule plus end grows while the minus end shrinks, is also observed in cells. While dynamic instability has been widely studied in vitro,…