bethany_website_picBethany Powell | My research focuses on the effect of hormones on athletic injury in women. Women are several times more likely to tear an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) than men during athletic activities. Many factors contribute to this discrepancy, including hormonal differences. The hormones estrogen, relaxin, and progesterone are present at much higher concentrations in women than in men. These hormones modulate the matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), which degrade collagen, the major constituent of ligament. Estrogen and relaxin induce MMPs, while progesterone suppresses the action of MMPs. The interplay between estrogen, relaxin, and progesterone leads to monthly fluctuations in MMPs in women, and these fluctuations may lead to varied collagen degradation throughout each month. My goal is to understand how the fluctuating, hormone-regulated MMPs affect collagen at multiple length and time scales, starting at the nanoscale and moving to the microscale. From this multiscale model, we will be able to better understand how hormones contribute to collagen degradation and athletic injury risk in women.


Coarse-grained fibril model


All-atom MMP-collagen dynamical system

Wenli Wu |

wenliMy research focus is about developing a model to build the link between physical structures of cell nuclei and their genomic function. This project involves both simulation and theory and the final results are compared with a DNA microarray experiment.

Simona Morochnik |

headshotMy research is based in developing a model to better understand pH and temperature responsive polymer systems. The model is informed by my experimental work in the lab of Prof. Guillermo Ameer, where I investigate a novel antioxidant and thermoresponsive polymer for potential application for osteoporotic bone regeneration, PPCN. I concurrently develop this theoretical model to build on existing polymer theory to test different bulk pH, ion and salt concentrations as they may change in the bone microenvironment in vivo. The resulting gel behavior will help predict PPCN’s utility in the future for different bone sites and timescales.

Anne Shim |

anneshimMy research is about understanding how the environment of the nucleus influences the function of both healthy cells and cancer cells. The nucleus has a highly crowded environment, meaning there is a large amount of macromolecules (“crowders”) that reside in the nucleus. Crowders make up the nanoarchitecture of the nucleus because on the nanoscale they act like scaffolding for other structures in the nucleus, but they can also get in the way of nuclear processes that are occurring. This causes crowders to drastically change the equilibria of chemical reactions in the nucleus. The chemical reaction we study is transcription, because it is the first step in gene expression, which determines how a cell will function. We study transcription in both healthy cells and in cancer to determine how cancer cells function differently than healthy cells based only on changes to their environment.

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