Spatiotemporal order in living matter

Living matter at all scales has a remarkable capacity to grow, organize, heal and move. This capacity stems from its ability to convert energy at the molecular scale to generate macroscopic organized motion and emergent structures. My overarching research vision is to understand how nonequilibrium forces lead to spatiotemporal organization in living matter, and in turn, how biological regulation harness this self-organizing capacity to make functional forms.

Syncrhonized cytoskeletal wave dynamics govern oocyte meiotic functions.

Pancreas organoids rotate as active solid & spontaneously break chiral symmetry.

Sea star embryos self-assemble into living chiral crystals with odd elastic 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.

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] mpi-cbg.de | @tzerhan29