SFU Canada Research Chairs Seminar Series: "Organizing space and time inside simple cells"

Thursday, February 10, 2011
11:30 - 12:30

Dr. Eldon Emberly
Canada Research Chair in Materials and Structural Biology, Department of Physics


Cells display a rich assortment of organized spatial structure that is often also meticulously regulated in time. A variety of cellular processes require spatial organization of various components, from the segregation of the DNA in dividing cells to the detection of vital food on the cells surface. In large eukaryotic cells, much of the spatial organization emerges as a result of active transporting mechanisms but in much smaller bacteria, many patterns emerge purely spontaneously due to specific interactions between biomolecules. In this talk I will highlight how a bacterial cell can spontaneously detect its left from right and how it uses this information to regulate DNA segregation. I will discuss a simple quantitative model of the process and show how computational simulation is able to make novel predictions for how spatial ordering arises. Lastly, a brief discussion on the application of simple physical models to cell biology will be attempted.

About the Speaker

Dr. Emberly studied physics during his undergraduate education at the University of Manitoba. He then pursued a Ph.D. in physics at Simon Fraser University, carrying out computational modeling of molecular electronic systems. He graduated from SFU in 2000. From there he moved into the area of biophysics, taking up two postdoctoral research positions at the NEC Research Institute in Princeton, NJ and The Rockefeller University. He returned to SFU in 2004, taking up a faculty position in Physics. His research group is interested in a broad range of topics in the area of quantitative biology, applying physical modeling to a variety of molecular biology problems.