Embryonic Development and Regeneration, and the Biophysics of Cell Behavior

Mo Convery

Mentor: Dr. Michael Levin, The Forsyth Institute, Harvard University

The capacity to generate a complex organism from the single cell of a fertilized egg is one of the most phenomenal qualities of multicellular animals. The processes involved in laying out a basic body plan and defining the structures that will ultimately be formed depend upon a constant flow of information between cells and tissues. The Levin laboratory of the Forsyth Institute studies the molecular mechanisms cells use to communicate with one another in the 4-dimensional dynamical system known as the developing embryo. Through experimental approaches and mathematical modeling, we will examine the processes governing large-scale pattern formation and biological information storage during animal embryogenesis. Investigations in the Levin laboratory are directed toward understanding the nature of the information flow between cells and tissues that allows a biological system to reliably generate and maintain a complex morphology. We will study these processes in the context of embryonic development and regeneration, with a particular focus on the biophysics of cell behavior. In contrast to other groups working to understand gene expression and biochemical signaling factors, we will be focusing on endogenous voltages, pH gradients, and ion fluxes as carriers of morphogenetic information.
As an intern in the lab, it will be my position to carryout the standard research guided by Dr. Levin. This will include using a vibratome machine to complete immunohistochemical analysis of sliced developing embryos. I will also be responsible for general lab unkeep, preparation of agarose gels, and monitoring of developing embryos. After several weeks in the laboratory, interns must prepare a secondary independent project to be completed by the end of the ten weeks. All independent projects will be approved and monitored by senior lab intern.

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