Research Interests

My research focuses on the physics of materials made from biological components. In one project I study systems made from the  proteins kinesin and microtubules, which together are responsible for a variety of cellular motion. The materials made from these components consume chemical energy and do work, just as they do in the cell, giving rise to unique properties that cannot exist in more traditional materials. Another system I work with are millimeter-scale membranes assembled from rod-like viral particles. These membranes behave just like small biological lipid membranes, but deform on much larger length and time scales. I use these to study the transition from flat membranes to spherical vesicles at high temporal and spatial resolution.

Mentoring Experiences

The most valuable experiences I have had during my PhD have been the many opportunities to mentor undergraduates. I began mentoring as a way to give back, due to the excellent mentorship experiences that I had as an undergraduate. So far, I have worked closely with seven mentees, who began with little or no previous research experience. It has been extremely rewarding watching them gain research skills, and ultimately develop independence in the lab, develop their own ideas and continue their research careers into graduate school. To me, mentoring is an avenue to both engage with students, as well as to learn how to manage a research group. Mentorship can be very time consuming, but the rewards far outweigh the cost!

Meaning of the Award

I try to be the best mentor that I can, but I always believe that I can do better. Receiving the Fiona and Michael Goodchild award reinforces my confidence in my ability as a mentor. I have been fortunate to have worked with many excellent undergraduates over the past four years, who I hope I have made a positive impact on. Throughout my research career, I will continue to make mentorship a top priority.