My lab is interested in biological control, with “control” meant in its engineering sense: execution of strategies for achieving useful ends, such as precision, robustness, efficiency and speed. Control questions are posed in the context of developmental and regenerative biology, and address long-standing puzzles in areas such as pattern formation, growth regulation, the origins of birth defects, and the avoidance of cancer. Our group is particularly interested in understanding how selection for control imposes order on biological systems, as a result of tradeoffs that arise among competing objectives. These issues are addressed using a variety of traditional approaches: model organisms (mice, flies, fish), genetic manipulation, and genomic analysis. But because control problems are inherently systems-level, the lab exploits the tools of Systems Biology, including mathematical modeling, simulation, large-scale data collection, and live cell imaging. Such work is facilitated through collaborations with mathematicians, computer scientists, physicists and engineers.

Awards and Achievements

  • NIH-Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award
  • Elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation
  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Serves on the Science Board of the Santa Fe Institute
  • Standing member of the NIH MABS (Modeling and Analysis of Biological Systems) study section
  • Member of the editorial boards of the PLoS Biology and BMC Biology