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Researchers in Lehigh’s Physics department study the organization and dynamics of living systems, as well as biological and soft materials, from the perspective of physics. Of particular interest to this group are biophysical processes near cell membranes, self-organization phenomena in cells, nonequilibrium properties of soft living matter. By advancing experimental and computational methods, they are actively involved in local, national and international collaborations with researchers in biology, bioengineering, chemistry, and related fields.

Theory and Computation: Researchers at Lehigh are interested in how cells regulate their shape and generate force to perform tasks essential to life (or, when misregulated, to disease), such as cell division and cell motion. To address the multiscale nature of cellular systems, they employ coarse-grained models using molecular dynamics, statistical, and continuum methods, as well as quantitative image analysis of experimental images. Computational research is performed at high performance computing facilities on campus and national facilities. (Faculty members include D. Rutkowski and D. Vavylonis.)

Experiment: Membranes, active matter and colloidal suspensions, mechanics of cells and biopolymer networks are investigated using techniques such as confocal microscopy, laser tweezers, electro-osmotic control, and microfluidics, in combination with image analysis and computational modeling. Research areas include phase separation of cell membranes, microrheology of macromolecules and living cells, non-equilibrium transport phenomena in active matter, and response of living cells to fluid flows.  (Faculty members include A. Honerkamp-Smith and D. Ou-Yang).

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