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Physics Seminar Series

Of Physicists and Fruit Flies, Cellular Mechanics and Morphogenesis

presented by Dr. M. Shane Hutson, Vanderbilt University

Wednesday, Oct. 19, 7:30 - 8:30pm, Woods Labs 216


Organismal development is often traced back to the unfolding of an intricate genetic program, but this unfolding requires physical interactions between cells. Developing embryos build and reshape tissues through the actions of intra-embryo, cell-generated mechanical forces. I will detail my group’s efforts to measure, understand and model these forces and the means by which they drive morphogenesis. We focus on two key events in fruit fly embryos – germband retraction and dorsal closure – using a combination of laser microsurgery, live-embryo confocal microscopy, and cell-level finite-element modeling. I will just begin to touch on the wealth of questions in developmental biology that could benefit from the collaborative attention of biologists and physicists.


M. Shane Hutson is a Professor of Physics at Vanderbilt University. He also holds a secondary appointment in Biological Sciences and serves as Director of VPROMPT – the Vanderbilt-Pittsburgh Resource for Organotypic Models for Predictive Toxicology. He joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 2003 after following an educational path that included B.A. and M.S. degrees in physics from Wake Forest University, a Ph.D. degree in biophysics from the University of Virginia, and three years as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Duke University Free Electron Laser Laboratory. His research interests include the mechanisms of soft-tissue laser ablation and microsurgery, the cellular mechanics of embryogenesis, and the use of organ-on-a-chip systems for understanding developmental toxicity. Dr. Hutson is a member of the American Physical Society, the Biophysical Society, and the Society of Toxicology.


For more information: Prof. Eugene Donev (931) 598-3154 | eudonev@sewanee.edu