Aaron Bourque

Graduate Student

I am working with Prof. Joshua Shaevitz and am in the 2nd year of the Quantitative and Computational Biology PhD program.
Spatial self-organization plays a crucial role in the development of microbial populations: individual cells interact with their neighbors to produce complex, population-wide behavior such as collective migration and large-scaled structures . However, the physical mechanisms connecting individual behaviors to population wide configurations are largely unknown. Studies of layer formation in bacterial colonies2 and mechanical waves of epithelial tissues3 have reported physical interactions as the guiding mechanism of structure formation of dense populations. Progress in understanding these large-scale behaviors in other systems has been limited by a lack of comprehensive characterization of their spatial geometry and rheology in three dimensions. I propose to use 3D imaging and active-matter theory to understand wave-like rippling behavior in the social bacterium
Myxococcus xanthus