Physical basis of biological organization

A fundamental hallmark of biological systems is their capacity to generate complex organization to orchestrate life. At the cellular level, nanometer scales proteins form organelles like mitotic spindles and actomyosin ring to drive cell growth and division. At the tissue scale, signaling gradients and collective behavior allows thousands of cells to form complex tissue architecture. And at the population level, collective of individuals can form colonies with intriguing patterns and dynamics.

Across the vast biological scales from molecules to populations, the specific biology of the individual components can be very different. But the rules governing how these constituents assemble into higher order structures often obey generic biophysical principles. I am interested in uncovering these principles using the framework of active matter, nonlinear dynamics and out-of-equilibrium statistical mechanics. By using a variety of model systems including Xenopus egg extract, Medicago root, as well as oocytes and embryos of sea star Patiria miniata, I combine quantitative imaging and collaborate with theorists to study the physical basis of biological organization.

Actin and microtubule dynamics during sea star oocyte meiosis.

Actin dynamics during early cleavages of sea star embryo

Spheroid formation from dissociated sea star gastrula cells

About me

I am an ELBE postdoc at MPI-CBG (Dresden, Germany) working with Anne Grapin-Botton and Stephan Grill. During my PhD, I worked with Nikta Fakhri (MIT, USA) to study symmetry, topology and geometry of biological active matter. After my PhD, I spent a few months at the Quantitative Biology Initiative (Harvard University, USA) as an independent fellow to study how cellular aggregates form tissues and how sea star embryos can self-assemble into active chiral crystal. My current research effort is focused on understanding formation of complex 3D tissue architecture using pancreas organoids as a model.

Feel free to reach out: ttan [at] | @tzerhan29