"By mapping the phases, we will understand what temperature, pressure, volume, number and level of activity leads to which organizations in cells. Further, we will know how to change from one phase to another to allow us to understand dynamic processes, such as stem cell differentiation or cell division," Ross says.
"This research is important to discover how the cell rapidly reorganizes its interior body to respond to its exterior environment," she adds, "how it goes through cell division or differentiates into a new cell type. The project will also shed new light on the physics descriptions of systems that use energy, which is still an open, ever-evolving challenge for modern physics."
NSF's INSPIRE awards program was established to address some of the most complicated and pressing scientific problems found at the intersection of traditional disciplines. It is intended to encourage investigators to collaborate to submit bold, exceptional proposals of such scope they may not fit within traditional funding avenues. Ross says employing the concepts from physics to address open problems in biology, as she and Gardel are doing, falls squarely in this interdisciplinary problem-solving category.
As women in physics, Ross and Gardel see themselves as role models for women and minorities in the sciences and they both take an active role in physics education and mentoring students in high school and at the college, graduate and postdoctoral levels. They are also committed to providing professional education for K-12 teachers and college professors.
"My female students have especially expressed how important and inspirational it is to them that I am a young woman with a career and a spouse and two kids, while I a
|Contact: Janet Lathrop|
University of Massachusetts at Amherst