Current Research and Scholarly Interests
My research interests are in theoretical and mathematical biophysics, with a focus on biological optimization. Biological systems routinely and effectively solve massively complex optimization problems in evolution, learning, optimal control, cell signalling, and other areas vital to life's success. Though excellent work has been done on all of these topics, more thorough quantitative descriptions of many of these processes are still needed. There remains a great deal to explore.
In my past and current research, I draw on tools from physics, mathematics, systems engineering, computer science, and optimization theory. I am particularly excited by problems in which these fields can engage in cross-talk, especially when there has been little such interaction in the past.
While this sort of theoretical work may seem far removed from practical application, I take inspiration from the successes which theoretical physicists have had in describing the fundamental processes of our universe. Though their research has often appeared abstract and inapplicable at first glance, these quantitative descriptions of quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, and general relativity enable much of the modern technology we enjoy. If we can achieve similar success in developing quantitative descriptions of the biological world, I expect we will find yet unimaginable applications in medicine, biotechnology, and engineering.
Though my current research is focused on the areas described above, in the past I've worked on such diverse areas as clinical data analysis (with Dr. Wade Shrader of Phoenix Children's Hospital), computational drug design (with Dr. Matthew Jacobson of UCSF), quantum optical devices (with Dr. Alejandro Rodriguez of Princeton), and algorithms for optimizing spiking neural networks (with Dr. Benjamin Moseley of Carnegie Mellon and Dr. Ralf Wessel of Washington University St. Louis).