I am a physicist who is fascinated by the extraordinary degree of complexity and emergent dynamics in biological systems. These properties pose a major challenge for explaining observed behavior from first principles, requiring innovative methods to decipher the involved mechanisms and to enable control of dynamic behavior. Coming from a nonlinear dynamics background, I started venturing into biology by investigating experimentally and in reaction-diffusion models how pattern formation processes in the cardiac muscle lead to heart rhythm disorders and identified novel strategies to terminate life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias, based on properties of the underlying heterogeneous medium and the characteristic dynamics of topological defects and activation patterns. Subsequently, together with synthetic and systems biologists, I widened my focus to include stochastic evolutionary, gene regulatory and population dynamics. I am particularly interested multicellular systems, where patterns and coordinated population-level behavior emerge from the coupling of individual constituents through physical, chemical end environmental interactions. My research is driven by the vision that an understanding of how biological dynamics emerge can uncover fundamental design principles and at the same time provide the basis for developing methods for biotechnology and medicine that control these dynamics. For current projects, see the group page (on the right).
Self-organized growth patterns.