We are experimentalists exploring fundamental and applied research questions at the intersection of organismic physics, biological soft matter, and global health.
ULTRA-FAST ORGANISMIC PHYSICS
Biologists are just starting to systematically examine ultrafast motion across species (jellyfish, mantis shrimp, trap-jaw ants), some of which achieve accelerations exceeding a million g-forces in nanoseconds. At the single-cell level, the physical biology of ultra-fast motility remains poorly understood. What is the fastest motion a single cell can achieve? How do single-cell organisms amplify power and survive repeated high accelerations? These fundamental questions guide our exploration of several non-model unicellular and multicellular organisms to uncover the principles of extreme motility at cellular scales.
Current projects: extreme single cells, exploding plants, ballistic spiders.
BIOLOGICAL SOFT MATTER
Our bodies are composed almost entirely of soft, wet, squishy materials. How do the fundamental principles of soft matter and complex fluids enable us to grasp dynamic processes, from the self-assembly of proteins to the stretching of a spider web? We study a spectrum of biological soft matter, from the tears on our eyes to biological foams from insects, with the goal of connecting the microscale structures (lipids, proteins) to their consequences for macroscale biological function (contact lens-eye interaction, microbiome health). As engineers, we leverage this understanding for human-health applications, ranging from diagnostics and monitoring to artificial therapeutic replacements and biomedical devices.
Current projects: biological foams, bird feathers, surfactants
FRUGAL SCIENCE AND GLOBAL HEALTH
Today, although information is free to anyone with internet, access to scientific tools and healthcare devices still has many barriers. How do we design and build tools that are scientifically rigorous, but cost a few cents on the dollar? Driven by the spirit of doing “frugal science”, we box ourselves in to find out of the box solutions for global challenges in science, agriculture, and planetary health. Projects in this area include field-work, science outreach, and citizen-science initiatives.
Current projects: hearing aid, tear diagnostics, insect pest surveillance tools