Research InterestsA short overview of my research is here.
Experimental biological physics
From the time of Jacob and Monod, a dominant theme running through microbiology and bacterial physiology is the idea that the information encoded in DNA can be connected to the physiological state of the organism through a multi-scale assembly of simple elements: the gene within an operon, the operon within a network and the network within a cell. This bottom-up approach to the understanding (and, more recently, the synthesis) of genetic networks is analogous to the engineering principles of electrical circuit design - a fruitful analogy that has lead to significant conceptual advances particularly in the burgeoning field of systems biology. But the limitation of this analogy is, of course, that electrical circuits do not grow and divide.
There is an increasing appreciation that genetic networks must be understood within the context of the growing organism; that core metabolic processes leading to rapid cell proliferation impose constraints on gene expression involved in auxiliary tasks. My major research focus is to use experimental microbiology and the tools of mathematical physics to uncover these growth-mediated constraints, and develop a phenomenological characterization of bacterial growth resulting in an expanding set of empirical relationships we call the growth laws.
Stochastic Processes in Physics and Biology
I am part of the Biomedical Research Group in the Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Waterloo.
In that capacity, I work primarily on the development of analytic
approximation schemes to treat stochastic effects in models of
small-scale dynamics. These include intracellular gene regulatory
networks and tumorigenesis.
Collaborators include: Brian Ingalls, Francis Poulin, Mads Kaern, and Pino Tenti.