Andrew Mugler, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Seminar title: "Statistical physics of bacteria and cancer cells"
Abstract: Cells are complex, yet constrained by physical laws. Consequently, approaches from physics can give important insights into cell behavior. I will present a statistical-physics view of two fascinating systems from cell biology: bacterial communities that use long-range electrical signaling to prevent starvation, and cancer cells that hijack the body's fluid flow to migrate and metastasize. I will show that bacterial signaling is fundamentally constrained by scaling laws from percolation theory, and that cancer cell migration is fundamentally constrained by the physics of diffusion and laminar flow. These works demonstrate that physical laws place limits on biological behavior, and suggest that cells have evolved to approach these physical limits.
Andrew Mugler investigates cellular phenomena using theoretical physics, to further our understanding of biological mechanisms and help combat disease.