Mijo Simunovic obtained his first Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in the field of theoretical chemistry. Working with Gregory Voth, he applied theoretical modeling and mesoscale-level simulations to study how proteins organize on lipid membranes to change their shape. His research demonstrated a mechanism of membrane deformation and protein self-assembly that is key in many cellular phenomena. Mijo earned his second Ph.D. from the University of Paris 7 in the field of condensed matter physics as a Chateaubriand Fellow. Working with Patricia Bassereau at the Curie Institute, he employed experimental biophysical techniques to elucidate the mechanical basis of important cellular processes. In particular, his work helped in discovering a new mechanism by which cells internalize cargo from the environment, driven by an unexpected interplay of membrane proteins and molecular motors. For his research efforts in Chicago he was awarded the Cao-Lan-Xian best thesis prize in Physical Chemistry, while his thesis in Paris received the highest distinction from the jury. During his graduate studies, Mijo also received several teaching prizes and a research award from the American Chemical Society.
Simunovic continues to carry out research at the interface of physics and biology at the Rockefeller University. Working with Eric Siggia and Ali Brivanlou, he uses embryonic stem cells to investigate the physical and molecular mechanisms that control the timing and size in early human development.