How do cells grow?
How do cells determine their shape?
How do molecules inside cells get to the right place at the right time?
Our group tries to answer these questions using a systems biology approach, in which we integrate interacting networks of protein and lipids with the physical forces determined by the spatial geometry of the cell. We use theoretical and computational techniques to make predictions that we can verify experimentally using synthetic, chemical, or genetic perturbations.
We primarily focus on bacteria, in which the exquisite patterning of the interior in both space and time is critical for a wide variety of cellular functions. The wide variety of shapes and sizes that bacteria take on can be used as synthetic environment for studying the establishment of intracellular organization and the cellular response to perturbations in morphology. Ultimately, the manipulation of cell shape may provide a direct tool for engineering complex cellular behaviors.