MPI for Dynamics and Self-Organization


Monday, November 2, 2020 - 3:30pm to 4:30pm


Via Zoom


Michael J. Shelley, Lilian and George Lyttle Professor of Applied Mathematics, Courant Institute, NYU Director, Center for Computational Biology, Flatiron Institute

Fluid dynamics of living cells

The organized movement of intracellular fluids is part of the functioning of cells and the development of organisms.  These flows often arise from the action of molecular motors on the transitory and flexible scaffoldings of the cell. That sounds complex and multiscaled, as is much of biology, but its study is also becoming a beautiful sub-branch of fluid dynamics characterized by geometric complexity, confinement, and microscale activity. Understanding phenomena in this realm has necessitated the development of new simulation tools , and of new coarse-grain mathematical models to analyze and simulate. In that context, I'll discuss how genetic material is "properly" positioned within a cell, how a symmetry-breaking "swirling" instability may be an important part of the development of an oocyte, and how flows in the nucleus give us clues to its internal mechanics.  

Michael J. Shelley is an American applied mathematician who works on the modeling and simulation of complex systems arising in physics and biology. This has included free-boundary problems in fluids and materials science, singularity formation in partial differential equations, modeling visual perception in the primary visual cortex, dynamics of complex and active fluids, cellular biophysics, and fluid-structure interaction problems such as the flapping of flags, stream-lining in nature, and flapping flight. He is also the co-founder and co-director of the Courant Institute's Applied Mathematics Lab.

Shelley was born in La Junta, Colorado (USA). He holds a BA in Mathematics from the University of Colorado (1981) and a PhD in Applied Mathematics from the University of Arizona (1985). He was a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University, and then joined the faculty of mathematics at the University of Chicago. In 1992 he joined the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University where he is the George and Lilian Lyttle Professor of Applied Mathematics as well as Professor of Neuroscience (NYU) and Professor of Mechanical Engineering (NYU-Tandon). In 2016 he also became a senior research scientist and group leader in biophysical modeling at the Center for Computational Biology (CCB) of the Flatiron Institute, a division of the Simons Foundation. In 2019 he was appointed Director of CCB.



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