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Theory of Living Matter Group

 

Organiser team (in alphabetical order)

Adrien Hallou

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Department of Physics, Gurdon Institute and Stem Cell Institute

Email:

Research Interests

  • Stem cell dynamics in epithelial tissues
  • Cell fate decisions
  • Embryonic pattern formation
  • Mechanotransduction
  • Collective cell migration in development and cancer

Initially trained as a physicist and a chemist, Adrien developed his interest for quantitative approaches of biological systems during his MPhil and PhD in Biophysics at the University of Cambridge. He is now a postdoctoral research fellow in the group of Prof. Ben Simons, and combines theory, computer simulations and wet lab experiments to understand the role of cellular heterogeneity in cell fate decision, pattern formation and epithelial tissue function during homeostasis, regeneration and tumorogenesis.


Daniel Kunz

PhD student

Department of Physics, Gurdon Institute and Wellcome Sanger Institute

Email:

Research Interests

  • Mathematical modelling
  • Cell fate dynamics
  • Cell cycle regulation

Daniel is shared between the labs of Ben Simons and Sarah Teichmann. He is mostly using single cell RNA-seq data to understand cell fate dynamics.


Nuno Miguel Oliveira

Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of Applied Mathematics & Theoretical Physics (Cambridge University)

Department of Veterinary Medicine (Cambridge University)

Sainsbury Laboratory (Cambridge University)

History of Medicine (Johns Hopkins University)

Email:

Research Interests

  • Behaviour, ecology and evolution
  • Microbial interactions
  • Bacterial biofilms
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • History of science and medicine

I study the wonders of the microbial world. I am interested to understand how microbes interact with other strains and species, and how these interactions evolve and impact us. I have a general interest on cell motility, namely within surface-attached communities called biofilms, and how cells, bacterial and other, use motility to cope with stress. For example, how do biofilm bacteria use motility to respond to antibiotic-producing species? Do bacteria use identical responses when exposed to clinical antibiotics? And how does that affect the evolution of antimicrobial resistance? Do we find similar responses in ameboid cells? What does that tell us about how cancer cells respond to chemotherapy? These are some of the questions I am passion about, and I address them with a combination of classical cell biology, molecular genetics, fluid physics and single-cell microscopy. More recently I realized that I can do better science if I appreciate the social context where science is made, and we need humanities for that. Why is antimicrobial resistance a hot topic these days? What cultural, economic and political factors contributed to the idea of antimicrobial resistance as a major public threat ranked alongside climate change and terrorism? Why do we treat antimicrobial resistance as a modern phenomenon and completely forgot the history of antimicrobial resistance in the pre-antibiotic era? I study history of science and medicine to address these and related questions. I joined the Goldstein lab (DAMTP) in 2016 as a Herchel Smith Postdoctoral Fellow, and I am now working at DAMTP, Vet School and the Sainsbury lab as a Wellcome Trust Interdisciplinary Fellow. I explore the secrets of history as a part-time student at Johns Hopkins.


Zoe Nahas

PhD Student

Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge University

Email:

Research Interests

  • Developmental biology
  • Decentralised decision making
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Philosophy of biology

I'm broadly interested in decentralised decision making in plant development, an example of which is the hormonal regulation of shoot branching. The decision of an axillary bud to grow out into a lateral branch requires the integration of both local signals in the bud and systemic signals from across the plant. In particular, my PhD focuses on understanding the dynamics of axillary bud activation, and the mechanisms enabling buds to compete with one another for growth.


Alexander Nestor-Bergmann

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

Email:

Research Interests

  • Tissue mechanics
  • Active mechanical properties of cells
  • Cell division

Mathematician by training and biologist by aspiration, Alex’s main interests lie in biomechanics. During his PhD, Alex developed mechanical models of tissues to study how external forces can influence cell division. In 2018, he joined Cambridge as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Benedicte Sanson’s group. His current research focuses on understanding how the active mechanical properties of cells can lead to coordinated and unintuitive tissue-level behaviour. A fundamental aspect of this work is extensive interaction between “wet” and “dry” biologists.


Ruby Peters

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

Research Interests

  • Actin cytoskeleton
  • Super-resolution microscopy
  • Cell mechanics

After completing a PhD in Physics at King’s College London in 2019, Dr Ruby Peters joined the lab of Professor Ewa Paluch at the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience. Her doctoral research, whilst formally granted in the discipline of Physics, was highly interdisciplinary spanning the fields of cell biology, optics, computational biology and biophysics. Ruby is a specialist in super-resolution microscopy: a family of closely related techniques that bypass the classical diffraction limit of light. At the Paluch lab, Ruby uses various super resolution microscopy techniques for the study of cell-shape control in the context of the nanoscale organisation and dynamics of the actomyosin cortex.


Wolfram Pönisch

Herchel Smith Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

Personal website
Email: ,

Research Interests

  • Crosstalk between cell shape and fate
  • Cell mechanics
  • Bacterial microcolony formation and dynamics
  • Coagulation processes
  • Mathematical and Computational Modelling
  • Image Analysis

Wolfram obtained his PhD in Theoretical Physics from the Max Planck Insitute for Complex Systems (Dresden, Germany) working in the group of Vasily Zaburdaev and Frank Jülicher. He joined the lab of Ewa Paluch in July 2018 at the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology (London, UK) and moved together with the lab to the University of Cambridge in May 2019. He is interested in the dynamics of cell shape during cell fate decisions and cell spreading.