Affiliation: Professor, Department of Physics, Simon Fraser University
Research Summary: We are fascinated by the molecular-level physical properties of our bodies’ building blocks. What is the blueprint encoded in proteins that allows for dynamical control of structure and assembly? How is it that our tissues can be made of individual building blocks that are, themselves, unstable? How do molecular motors achieve their amazing transport properties, in the context of the random, thermal environment of cells?
We explore these questions, and more, by quantifying the physical properties of single molecules, and examine how their interactions can lead to emergent properties. Our approaches span the domains of physics – including nonequilibrium statistical physics, polymer physics, optics; chemistry and biochemistry; and molecular and cell biology. We combine experiment and computer simulations, building single-molecule instrumentation to probe systems in new ways, exploiting cells and synthetic biology to provide molecular systems for study; and developing and utilizing models to explore parameter space and help guide and interpret experiments.