Faculty

2017 Faculty:

June 12 – 17 – Bootcamp
June 19 – July 1 – Session 1 – Rob Phillips, Stephan Grill, Jennifer Lippincott Schwartz
July 3 – July 15 – Session 2 – Ibrahim Cisse, Dan Fletcher, Wallace Marshall
July 17 – July 29 – Session 3 – KC Huang/Rob Phillips (theory rotation), Marileen Dogterom, Ethan Garner, Cassandra Extavour

Faculty Bios:

cisseIbrahim Cissé – Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ibrahim Cissé joined the Department of Physics at MIT in January 2014, from HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus where he had been in the Transcription Imaging Consortium since January 2013. Prior to this, he was in Paris from January 2010 to December 2012, at Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris, jointly in the departments of Physics and Biology, as a Pierre Gilles de Gennes fellow and a European Molecular Biology Organization long-term fellow. He received his PhD from the Physics Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in December 2009. His graduate training was in single-molecule biophysics under Prof. Taekjip Ha, focusing on weak and transient interactions in vitro. He received his B.S. in Physics in 2004 from North Carolina Central University, and during that time he was investigating packing of ellipsoids using M&M candies with Paul M. Chaikin. Ibrahim is native of Niger, where he lived before moving to the US for college.

dogteromMarileen Dogterom, Delft University of Technology

Marileen Dogterom is Professor in Biophysics and Department Chair at the young Department of Bionanoscience at Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands. She has been obsessing with the microtubule cytoskeleton ever since her PhD in Paris and Princeton, and postdoc at Bell Labs. Her group has developed quantitative techniques to measure forces generated by individual growing and shrinking microtubules, and used micro-fabrication techniques to show how cortical pulling forces mediated by microtubule-motor interactions may contribute to the positioning of microtubule asters. Her current interests lie in the reconstitution of complex cytoskeleton systems (microtubules and actin) in artificial confinement. She for example uses emulsion droplets made with microfluidic techniques in combination with opto-control techniques to reconstitute minimal (asymmetric) spindles and minimal microtubule-based polarity patterns.

extavourCassandra Extavour – Harvard University

The Extavour lab studies the genetic and molecular mechanisms that ensure that cells adopt their correct fates during animal embryogenesis. We do this using multiple approaches, including developmental genetics, quantitative microscopy, molecular evolution, biochemistry, embryology and bioinformatics. We study how these genes and mechanisms function in living animals, taking a comparative approach to study homologous gene function in different animals, and how similar processes can be controlled by different genes across organisms. Our ultimate goal is not only to understand how these genes work in extant animals, but also to understand how such mechanisms first evolved, and how they have changed over evolutionary time.

fletcherDaniel A. Fletcher, University of California, Berkeley

The Fletcher Lab studies spatial organization in biology and the impact of physical constraints at molecular, cellular, and tissue levels, with a focus on membrane and cytoskeletal biophysics. Current topics of interest include how motile cells move through tissues, how immune cells recognize targets, and how cells fuse their plasma membranes. To investigate these questions, we develop technologies based on optical microscopy, force microscopy, and microfluidics.

Lab website: fletchlab.berkeley.edu

garnerEthan Garner, Harvard University

My primary interest lies in understanding how molecules, nanometers is size, are able to make micron scale order. This problem has been extensively studied in eukaryotes, but eukaryotes comprise only a small fraction of the forms of life on this planet; and pretty much solve most of their spatial problems the same way. My lab likes to look in the less understood , smaller realm: working to understand how prokaryotes and archaea establish their shape, and then partition contents within within these shapes. These divergent organisms show us the Rube Goldberg nature of evolution: there are a large number of different ways biology can solve the same problem. I was trained as a polymer biochemist amongst eukaryotic cell biologists in the lab Of Dyche Mullins, studying DNA segregating prokaryotic polymers. I then did a joint postdoc with 3 labs, Tim Mitchison (Cell biology) Xiaowei Zhuang (super resolution), and David Rudner (Microbiology). My lab, which started in 2012 years ago, uses a combination of biochemistry, imaging, single molecule tracking, computational analysis, and bacterial genetics to study these tiny organisms.

grillStephan Grill, Technische Universität Dresden

Morphogenesis refers to the generation of form in Biology. Our group is interested in understanding the biophysical basis of morphogenesis, how an unpatterned blob of cells develops into a fully structured and formed organism. We combine theory and experiment, and investigate force generation on multiple scales. At the level of cells and tissues we study how the actomyosin cell cortex self contracts, reshapes and deforms, and how these morphogenetic activities couple to regulatory biochemical pathways. At the level of molecules we investigate force generation and movement of individual molecules of RNA polymerases in the context of gene expression and transcriptional proofreading.

Lab website: http://www.biotec.tu-dresden.de/research/grill/

huangKC Huang, Stanford University

Understanding how cells grow and divide has profound impacts on basic science, biotechnology, and medicine. Despite recent advances in molecular biology and biochemistry, a central challenge remains: bridging the nanometer-scale activities of proteins and the construction of entire cells. Although the mechanisms of bacterial proliferation have been a major focus of research for over a century, it has remained difficult to determine how cellular structure and organization are dynamically controlled due to the central—yet neglected—importance of physical factors.

To address these knowledge gaps, our lab pursues research directions that span from the atomic to the multicellular scales. We investigate the physical nature of intracellular spatial organization, mechanics, and kinetics by leveraging top-down approaches based on cellular-scale observations, bottom-up approaches based on biophysical molecular observations, and computational modeling that connects the two paradigms. Understanding cellular growth and form remains a fascinating, multifaceted challenge with obvious implications for health and disease. In addition to the importance of bacteria as a model system for basic science, uncovering the general physical rules that underlie how bacteria grow and divide will have important applications for controlling bacterial communities and developing novel strategies in synthetic biology.

Lab Website: http://whatislife.stanford.edu

jlsJennifer Lippincott-Schwartz, NIH

Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz is Section Chief of the Cell Biology and Metabolism Branch, NICHD, NIH and NIH Distinguished Investigator. She grew up on a farm in Virginia before receiving her BA from Swarthmore College and her PhD degree in Biology from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.

Jennifer’s research uses live cell imaging approaches to analyze the spatio-temporal behavior and dynamic interactions of molecules and organelles in cells. Her group has pioneered the use of green fluorescent protein (GFP) technology for quantitative analysis and modeling of intracellular protein traffic and organelle biogenesis in live cells and embryos, providing novel insights into cell compartmentalization, protein trafficking and organelle inheritance. Most recently, her research has focused on the development and use of photoactivatable fluorescent proteins, which ‘switch on’ in response to uv light. One application of these proteins she has put to use is photoactivated localization microscopy, (i.e., PALM), a super resolution imaging technique that enables visualization of molecule distributions at high density at the nano-scale.

Her work has been recognized with election to the National Academy of Sciences and the National Institute of Medicine, and with the Royal Microscopy Society Pearse Prize and the Society of Histochemistry Feulgen Prize. Jennifer is President of the American Society of Cell Biology for 2014. She serves on the scientific advisory boards of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Weizmann Institute of Sciences, the Searle Scholar Program, and the Salk Institute.

Lab Website: https://www.janelia.org/lab/lippincott-schwartz-lab

wmarshallWallace Marshall, University of California, San Francisco

Ever since I was a kid two things interested me most: engineering and biology. I used to divide my time between tinkering with circuits and scooping up water from the local pond to look at all the weird creatures that lived in a single drop. Over time the lines between the two gradually seemed to blur, and it became obvious that the protists swimming in the pond were machines, just as much as any machine humans make. This view was clearly at odds with what i was then being taught in school – that cells are watery bags of enzymes in which all that matters is molecular reactions and nothing else. If that was true, then how could cells have such machine-like, precise geometries? When I went to college I majored in electrical engineering and biochemistry, with the goal of learning how to use biological self-assembly to develop computers that could grow inside a cell, but decided that achieving this goal would first require us to understand how sub-cellular structures can build precise shapes. Ever since then my goal has been to understand the geometry of cells – where it comes from and what it is for. To pursue this question my lab combines concepts from engineering to problems of biological structure, using an integrated combination of live-cell imaging, genetics, quantitative image analysis, and computational modeling.

Lab website: http://cellgeometry.ucsf.edu/

rphillipsRob Phillips, Caltech

Rob Phillips is the Fred and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics and Biology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. Phillips received his PhD in condensed matter physics at Washington University in 1989. Prior to graduate school, he spent seven years of travel, self-study and work as an electrician. Work in his group centers on physical biology of the cell, the use of physical models to explore biological phenomena and the construction of experiments designed to test them. Some of the key areas of interest include the physics of genome management such as how viruses and cells physically manipulate DNA as part of their standard repertoire during their life cycles, how transcriptional networks lead to regulatory decisions and how the physical properties of lipid bilayers are tied to the behavior of ion channels. Over the last ten years, Phillips has been working with Professor Jane’ Kondev (Brandeis University), Professor Julie Theriot (Stanford University) and Dr. Hernan Garcia on a book entitled “Physical Biology of the Cell” published by Garland Science and a second book entitled “Cell Biology by the Numbers” with Professor Ron Milo (Weizmann Institute).

Lab website: http://www.rpgroup.caltech.edu/