Seminar Announcement, 09/06/2016
Levich Institute Seminar Announcement, 08/30/2016
Tuesday, 08/30/2016
2:00 PM
Steinman Hall, Room #312
(Chemical Engineering Conference Room)

Dr. Ehssan Nazockdast
New York University
Courant Institute
Simons Foundation and University of North Carolina

"Mechanics and Hydrodynamics of Spindle Positioning"


Understanding the mechanics of the cytoskeleton -- an assembly of macromolecular filaments and motor proteins-- is key to understanding the physics of living systems. To this end, we have developed a highly efficient, large-scale computational platform for dynamic simulation of cytoskeletal assemblages. Our method incorporates many-body hydrodynamic interactions (HIs), while also accounting for the mechanical flexibility of filaments, their dynamic instability, and interactions with motor proteins. We use our computational platform to study the mitotic spindle positioning, during the first cell division in the Caenorhabditis elegans embryo. Proper positioning of the spindle is indispensable for faithful chromosome segregation and the progression of life. Through direct simulations, we demonstrate key consequences of HIs in the dynamics of spindle positioning. Specifically, we show that each proposed active mechanism for the spindle positioning produces a qualitatively different signature in its induced cytoplasmic flow, suggesting flow visualization as a tool for studying different active mechanisms in cellular processes. We then use a combination of structural data from electron tomography and computer simulations to study the kinetics and dynamics of microtubule filaments within the mitotic spindle during chromosome segregation.

  • I will be starting as an Assistant Professor The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Applied Physical Sciences, (July 2017)
  • I am currently a Flatiron Research Fellow Simons Foundation, Biophysical Modeling Group (June 2016-present)
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate Applied Math Lab, Courant Institute, New York University (June 2013-June 2016)
  • Ph.D. Chemical Engineering City College of New York, City University of New York (September 2007- May 2013)


I am generally interested in Theoretical and Computational Soft Materials. My recent interests involve Cell Biophysics and Cell Mechanics, particularly the mechanics and rheology of cytoskeletal assemblies.

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