The candidate is starting as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (effective January 2010). The candidate was awarded PhD in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley for research in the field of single-molecule biophysics. During the Postdoctoral Fellowship, the candidate transitioned to the field of systems biology, where he applied the quantitative techniques from previous research to the study of evolutionary game dynamics in microbial systems. The ROO award would allow the candidate to continue to acquire new skills in the techniques of in vivo experimental biology, specifically the use of bacterial and yeast cell culture, flow cytometry, and molecular genetics and analysis. The candidate has developed and engaged in research studying the evolution of cooperation in S. cerevisaie sucrose metabolism. During the Postdoctoral phase of the award, the candidate 1) Developed theoretical and experimental approaches to understand the nature of sucrose metabolism 2) Explored cooperative and competitive interactions in sucrose metabolism and 3) Studied the effect of spatial structure on the evolution of cooperative interactions.
These aims were accomplished by genetically engineering "cooperator" and "cheater" strains of S. cerevisiae and growing these strains in direct competition in liquid culture. The results of these competition experiments were monitored through a combination of fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry. During the independent phase of the award, the candidate will extend the research to the cooperative and competitive interactions that govern the production of iron-scavenging siderophores by the bacteria E. coli.
The evolution of cooperation is a classic problem in evolutionary biology with important implications for the study of cancer and infectious diseases. Multi-cellular life is a prime example of cellular cooperation;cancer results when one cell ceases this cooperation and begins to divide uncontrollably. Similarly, the virulence of Infectious diseases can depend upon the nature of cooperative interactions between infecting microbes.
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