CCB Colloquium: M. Lisa Manning

Date & Time

Title: The surprising impact of studying biological tissues as living materials

Your body is amazing. The instructions for its construction are encoded in only two cells, yet trillions of cells have ended up in more or less the right place. So what governs the motion of cells inside a living organism, and what goes wrong in disease? Some of these questions can be answered by thinking of tissues in your body as a “living material”. A tissue’s global material properties – whether it is a fluid or a solid, or whether it has surface tension – are key for its biological function. Therefore, an important open question is how single cells might control these global properties. In this talk, I will discuss recent progress from my group and others in developing a theoretical and computational framework for predicting the emergent collective behavior of dense groups of cells and biopolymer networks. I will explain how these ideas are having an impact in diverse areas of biology, from cancer tumorigenesis to wound healing, asthma, and congenital disease, and discuss future prospects for this newly emerging area that combines mechanobiology and tissue mechanics with statistical mechanics and active matter.

About the Speaker

M. Lisa Manning is an Associate Professor of Physics at Syracuse University. She is an award-winning interdisciplinary scientist studying the mechanical properties of biological tissues and the failure of disordered materials. Her work to understand how the global properties of tissues impact cell migration and pattern formation provides new insight into biological processes such as embryonic development, wound healing, and cancer. Her work to understand the fundamental excitations in disordered solids generates better predictive models for flow and failure in materials from emulsions to glasses to earthquake faults. She earned her B.S. in Physics and B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Virginia in 2002, before attending graduate school at UC Santa Barbara, where she earned a Ph.D. in Physics in 2008, advised by Jean Carlson and James Langer. She worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science from 2008 until she joined faculty at Syracuse University in 2011. Prof. Manning has given over 100 invited talks and published 38 peer-reviewed articles. She has received several honors and awards including being named to the Science News “Top 10 Scientists to watch” list, 2018 Maria Goeppert Mayer Award from the APS, 2016 IUPAP Young Investigator Prize, a Simons Investigator award, a Sloan Fellowship, a Scialog award, as well as several teaching awards. As an NSF CAREER awardee and a Cottrell Scholar, she has also developed innovative programs to help recruit and retain a diverse group of scientists in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields.

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