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I am a graduate student in the Physics Department of Syracuse University under the guidance of Prof. Mark J. Bowick and Prof. Jennifer M. Schwarz.

  • I am interested in the mechanical properties of  the actin cytoskeleton as modeled by rigidity percolation (disordered spring networks). To begin to study the actin cytoskeleton at the leading edge of a crawling cell, I have analytically and numerically studied disordered spring networks with an underlying anisotropy, i.e. where the filaments are preferentially oriented along one direction. We found, for example, that the increasing the anisotropy, increases the filament density required for a nonzero shear modulus (rigidity). This work is done in cooperation with Prof. Moumita Dasicon-pdf

 

Schematic figure showing the randomly diluted anisotropic spring network with corresponding occupation probabilities px and py.

Plot of the phase diagram according to mean field constraint counting argument, with the inset showing the shear modulus G as a function of px and py obtained from the effective medium theory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • I have also constructed a theoretical model of endocytosis in yeast. Recent experiments on endocytosis in yeast demonstrate that the actin cytoskeleton plays a crucial role in the deformation of the cell membrane. However, competing ideas remain as to precisely how the actin cytoskeleton organizes itself to help drive the deformation. To begin to resolve this controversy, we mathematically model clathrin-mediated endocytosis in yeast using variational methods and Monte Carlo simulations. Our results also suggest that the pinch-off mechanism may be assisted by a pearling-like instability. This work is done in cooperation with Prof. Rastko Sknepnekicon-pdf

 

Simulation of tube elongation

Simulation of membrane tube elongation in yeast.

The pearling instability for a cylindrical membrane with increasing surface tension going from left to right

The pearling instability for a membrane tube with increasing surface tension going from left to right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  •  I have been recently studying global shape change driven by local osmolarity gradients. Inspired by recent experiments, we consider a three-dimensional network of aqueous droplets joined by single lipid bilayers to form a cohesive, tissue-like material. The droplets in these droplet networks can be programmed with different osmolarities. These osmolarity gradients generate internal stresses via local flows and the network then folds into designed structures. Using molecular dynamics simulations, we study the formation of shapes ranging from rings to spirals to tetrahedra and determine the optimal range of parameters for such structures. We also add an osmotic interaction with a dynamic environment, i.e. external stimuli, to realize a folding-unfolding process to work towards an osmotic robotics system. icon-pdf

 

Folding of a "flower" shape droplet network.
Red droplets have higher osmolarity than blue ones.
Formation of a tetrahedron.
Formation of a spiral.A folding-unfolding process.

During my research in theoretical soft matter physics, I have had a lot of chances to practice my computational skills. I am familiar with popular programming languages and scientific software, such as C, C++, Python, Mathematica, Matlab and Surface Evolver.

I acknowledge support from the Soft Matter Program at Syracuse University.