Associate Professor Andreas Carlson
Hydrodynamics and adhesion of soft interfaces
Soft interface dynamics is essential to a wide range of engineering applications and biological systems such as; microfluidics, 3D printing technology, heart development and intercellular adhesion. Since these interfaces operate in liquid environments, their dynamics is intertwined with the fluid flow. I will show some examples of flows within this class of phenomena where the combination of mathematical modeling, numerical simulations and experiments has been used to advance our understanding of the physical mechanisms dominating the dynamics. I will focus on a recent biological example of immune cell adhesion, which is essential for the activation of an immunological response to harmful agents such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites. The immune cell’s ability to recognize a malignant invader is enabled by membrane adhesion through transmembrane proteins, which form a dynamic pattern that conceals rules for immune system activation. Understanding the biophysical basis of this spatiotemporal pattern requires distinguishing the passive physical processes and the active biological processes evoked by the cell. I will present a minimal model for the passive protein patterning, which through direct comparison with experiments suggests that passive physics can describe the short time protein dynamics and highlight that the complex active biological processes within the cell dominate the dynamics at long times. I will discuss how this approach in quantifying the passive and active processes is likely applicable beyond immune cell adhesion and may be used to understand broader dynamical aspects of soft interfaces.