Variations in the properties identifying individuals within a given population is the norm in biology. For example, every human being from a given population is different. This concept holds true at various hierarchical levels in biology all the way down to the individual cells that make up the tissues and organs of the body. Each cell is slightly different in its biochemical and biomechanical properties from the other cells that make up the tissue. An important question that arises then is – if the extent of variations observed within a given population is known, can that information be used to predict the long-term dynamics of that particular population? In an attempt to answer this question, this ARO funded project will examine the role of variations in the biomechanical properties of cells within a tissue on the dynamical behavior of the tissue. Using computational mechanics and mathematical modeling, the project will aim to predict long-term tissue dynamics during key biological processes such as wound healing and tissue regeneration, as well as the likelihood and timeline of diseases like cancer occurring within seemingly healthy tissue environments. Ultimately, the project aims to provide fundamental understanding on the role of local and global population heterogeneity on the dynamics of biological systems across different size scales.
You can always find fun math and mechanics problems, coffee and smiling faces in the Computational Active Matter Mechanics lab (www.CompActMatter.com)