We want to understand how animal cells sense, generate, and respond to forces in their environment. Our goal is to generate a detailed physical model for cell viscoelasticity and to relate it to the cells’ biochemical regulatory pathways. Such understanding will likely prove crucial for medical studies related to cancer metastasis, stem cell differentiation, and embryogenesis as well as next-generation tissue engineering. On another level, it will help tie inherently reductionist molecular-level studies to more phenomenological tissue-level biomedical work.