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University of Chicago
Design Principles of Living Matter
In this talk, I will describe my lab’s recent efforts to understand the design principles of the active, soft materials that drive cell morphogenesis. In particular, we are interested in how collections of myosin II motors and actin polymers generate, relax, sense and adapt to mechanical force. I will discuss how motor-filament interactions lead to either distributed extensile or contractile stresses as the mechanics of the system changes from fluid to solid. Using optical control of motors, we are now exploring how spatially structured stress can be used to drive local flows and motion. If time, I will also describe how feedbacks between local geometry and activity can be harnessed to drive morphogenetic changes in model systems.