Meet Our Collaborators
Alex Dunn, Ph.D.
Alex Dunn is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University. His research focuses on understanding how living cells sense mechanical stimuli, with particular interests in stem cell biology and tissue engineering. Dr. Dunn worked as a postdoctoral scholar with James Spudich in the Department of Biochemistry at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He received his Ph.D. at the California Institute of Technology under the direction of Harry Gray, where his work focused on understanding the catalytic mechanism selective C-H bond oxidation by cytochrome P450 enzymes. His work has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Hertz Fellowship, Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Burroughs Wellcome Career Award at the Scientific Interface, and NIH Director’s New Innovator Award.
Beth Pruitt, Ph.D.
The Stanford Microsystems Lab works on custom measurements and analysis systems for small scale metrologies including scanning probe microscopy, biomechanics and mechanotransduction assays. We study the mechanics and biology of the sense of touch in C. elegans, the mechanisms and forces of cell adhesion, and the development and response of stem cells and cardiac myocytes to mechanical loading. We design and fabricate most of our own tools and sensors and are interested in the reliable manufacture and operation of micromachined sensors and actuators in harsh environments, measuring nanoscale mechanical behavior, and the analysis, design, and control of integrated electro-mechanical systems. We leverage new tools and answer novel questions in our lab in the areas of physiology, biology, stem cells, neuroscience and cardiology with an eye toward quantitative and fundamental biophysics.
Piali Sengupta, Ph.D.
We are interested in identifying the genetic, molecular, and neuronal mechanisms by which animals sense and translate environmental cues such as chemicals and temperature into specific changes in behavior and development. Understanding the regulation of sensory signaling and signal processing is of significant biomedical importance since misregulation of these pathways leads to many neurological and behavioral disorders. Current research in our lab focuses on three main areas using the powerful and elegant C. elegans model organism.
Massimo Vergassola, Ph.D.
Massimo Vergassola is a Professor of Physics at the University of California San Diego. His research covers the processing of environmental information by organisms. He focuses on physical sensory cues such as the olfactory sense in insects, thermal soaring in birds, and the sense of touch.