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An NSF-MRI grant has been awarded to Kettering University Professors Gillian L. Ryan (Physics), Salomon Turgman-Cohen (Chemical Engineering), Matthew Causley (Mathematics), Farnaz Ghazi-Nezami (Industrial Engineering), and James Cohen (Applied Biology) to establish a high-performance computing cluster at Kettering!

More information can be found here!

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COMPUTATIONAL PHYSICS IN BIOLOGICAL SYSTEMS

A surprising number of physical interactions are essential in biological systems, and cells make full of advantage of these interactions to change shape, import and export signals, and move through their environment. Have you ever wondered how individual cells crawl over surfaces or change direction in response to their environment? Many cellular functions such as these require the coordination of many different proteins throughout the interior of the cell. The individual proteins themselves are small, typically nanometers in size, but their collective influence elicits cell-scale changes on the order of  tens of microns. One way proteins can collectively span size-scales is by forming large superstructures, such as those found in the eukaryotic cytoskeleton. The Computational Physics Lab group at Kettering University uses a combination of image analysis, mathematical modelling, and computer simulation to try to understand how individual proteins coordinate to influence cellular structure and function.

Advances in the use of fluorescent proteins as markers allow scientists to observe how proteins are organized over both space and time within living cells. Under certain conditions, scientists can even track the movement of individual proteins within a cell. Sometimes, however, the observed patterns of protein organization raise more questions than they answer! This is where theoretical models can help. Although the Computational Physics Lab group does not currently conduct experiments on live cells, measurements made with fluorescent microscopy provide us with necessary information for developing useful, meaningful models of cellular dynamics that investigate the interactions of many proteins within cells.

APPLICATIONS IN MATERIAL SCIENCES

Although our group focuses primarily on biological physics, our approach is also useful for research in materials science. We collaborate with two other research groups at Kettering University to investigate the properties of phase change materials and graphene, with the goal of developing inexpensive energy storage devices.