Hello! If you’ve stumbled upon this page, hopefully it means you are interested in my research. This is currently a work in progress, and I hope to have more up here soon.
I am a postdoctoral researcher working with Professor Edo Kussell in the Biology Department at New York University. Currently, I am very fortunate to be a Simons Fellow of the Life Sciences Research Foundation. Prior to working with Edo, I spent 5+ mind-bending years doing my PhD at Caltech under the mentorship of Rustem Ismagilov.
Biophysics, soft matter physics, polymer physics, computational biology, and evolution
Can we use physics to predict how polymers in our diet shape the gut environment?
During my PhD thesis work, I focused on elucidating how polymers in the human diet influence gut structure and function through physicochemical interactions. The human gut abounds in both secreted polymers (e.g., mucus, proteins) and ingested polymers (e.g., dietary fibers, food additives, therapeutics). These polymers affect the composition of the gut microbiome and diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, yet the underlying physics by which these polymers alter gut physiology is not well understand. We studied this through a combination of experiments and numerical calculations. Despite the complexity of the gut, we were able to develop a coarse-grained, statistical physics approach for understanding how dietary polymers impact physiology, which enabled quantitative predictions based on measurables such as polymer size and concentration. Specifically, we found that dietary polymer-induced osmotic forces can compress colonic mucus and influence the aggregation of particles in the gut (see Publications 2-4 below). Both mucus compression and aggregation have implications regarding altered protection against pathogens and drug uptake. Overall, my thesis work with the Ismagilov Lab yielded a quantitative, biophysical understanding of how polymer-driven osmotic forces, which shape gut physiology, can be tuned by the host, microbiota, and diet.
How do fluctuating, biopolymeric environments influence microbial adaptation and behavior?
As the gut microbiota has a profound effect on human health, a complete understanding of how dietary polymers influence gut function must incorporate a quantitative framework for how microbes adapt to and behave in environments where conditions are constantly in flux and polymer-rich (e.g., gut, lungs). I began working on this at the end of my PhD with work focusing on how polymer-driven osmotic forces influence the aggregation of motile bacteria (see Publication 1 below). I am now working with Edo Kussell to understand how microbes have adapted to live in these fluctuating, biopolymeric environments through the use of diversity-generating mechanisms such as stochastic switching (i.e., creates phenotypic diversity) and recombination (i.e., produces genetic diversity).
California Institute of Technology
Ph.D. in Chemistry, Apr 2019
Thesis advisor: Rustem F. Ismagilov
Thesis committee: Zhen-Gang Wang (chair), David A. Tirrell, Julie A. Kornfield
Thesis: How polymers shape the physicochemical environment of the gut
Thesis awarded Herbert Newby McCoy Award by Division of Chemistry & Chemical Engineering at Caltech
B.A. in Chemistry with highest honors, B.A. in Physics, May 2013
summa cum laude
Thesis advisor: Milos Dolnik
Thesis: Growth dynamics of Turing Patterns in the photosensitive CDIMA reaction
For hyperlinks to publications, see my Google Scholar here.
|2020-present||LSRF Postdoctoral Fellowship||Simons Foundation Awardee of the Life Sciences Research Foundation|
|2019||Herbert Newby McCoy Award||In recognition of the most outstanding achievements in research by a graduate student in Caltech Chemistry & Chemical Engineering|
|2018-2019||Caldwell CEMI Fellowship||Awarded by Caltech CEMI to graduate students doing exciting interdisciplinary research that has the potential to benefit society|
|2013-2018||NSF GRFP||National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (link)|
|2013||Schiff Memorial Award||Awarded by the Brandeis Division of Science to one or more student showing creativity and originality in science, fine arts or archeology (link)|