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Physical Principles in Biological Systems:
Biomechanics, Regeneration & Neurodevelopment

    We are interested in the role of physical principles for living systems.
Currently, we are working in three major areas: biomechanics, regeneration
& asexual reproduction, and neurotoxicology.  Our two main model
systems are freshwater planarians and Hydra. Both organisms are famous
for their incredible regenerative capabilities: one can cut them into many
pieces and each piece will give rise to an entire new animal!

     We use techniques from physics, engineering, and computer science, and combine them with molecular
biology methods to investigate how structure and function influence
developmental processes, regeneration, and asexual reproduction (in
planarians).  Planarian asexual reproduction can be studied from the molecular level
to the population level, allowing us to combine stem cell biology
with tissue mechanics, statistical physics, evolution and aging. To
this end, we developed a unique experimental system in which we track
thousands of individual worms over the course of several years to
study their reproduction dynamics.

     Every time a planarian reproduces asexually by ripping itself apart,
the tail piece needs to regenerate a new head and central nervous
system. Thus, in this organism, regeneration and development
occur through mechanistically similar pathways.
We take advantage of this and use planarians as an in vivo
model for developmental neurotoxicology.

See the Software and Research sites for more details.




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Collins Lab News

Our Paper on Hydra mouth opening in Biophysical Journal was voted "Best Paper of 2016"! Eva-Maria will present our work at the BPS meeting in New Orleans, February 14, 2017, see here

Our paper on the interactions of organophosporus pesticides with planarian acetylcholinesterase was published in Archives of Toxicology! You can view this link here

Congratulations! Kelson Kaj was awarded the Dean's Excellence Award in the Physical Sciences.

WORM STEM is a mentor/mentee based organization for Women in STEM. If you are looking for a mentor who is matched to your personal needs and background, or if you are interested in empowering younger women in STEM, see here

Rui Wang has joined the lab. Welcome!

Congratulations to Danielle on her Goeddel Chancellor's award!

Our study on mouth opening in Hydra was featured in the New York Times

Our study on mouth opening in Hydra was published in the Biophysical Journal. Press Release here

Congratulations to Eva-Maria Collins on being named a 2016 Cottrell Scholar!

Our Paper on Scrunching in planarians has been published in Physical Biology

Congratulations to Danielle on her ARCS scholarship!

Hongyu Zhang, Karen Hsu, and Steve Pei join the lab. Welcome!

Our paper on a new planarian screening platform for neurotoxicology was published in toxicological sciences

UCSD's Newspaper on our Research:Flatworms as an Alternative to Mammals for Toxicology Tests

 Our paper on planarian dynamins has now appeared in Biology Open:
Dynamin 1 Homolog Required for Locomotion

Eva-Maria has been selected as a 2014-2015 Hellman Fellow! Congratulations!

Danielle has been awarded one of the prestigous  CMG training grant fellowships! Congratulations!

Cindy has been selected as a 2014-2016 UC Leads Scholar! Congratulations!

Jason has been selected as the recipient of the 2014 Summer URS Ledell Family Research Scholarship! Congratulations!

Jannet Cardin, Danielle Hagstrom and Callen Hyland join the lab. Welcome! (3/31/14)

Eva Isaacs, Cindy Khuu, Yunshu Song and Addam Debebe join the lab. Welcome! (1/2/14)

Christine has been selected as a recipient of the 2013-14 UC San Diego Physical Sciences Dean's Undergraduate Award for Excellence! --

Our paper on glass dynamics in tissues in now available online:
Glassy Dynamics in 3D Embryonic Tissues

Joydeb Sinha, Sejal Patel, Raghav Mandayam, Phuong Truong, and Holly Hathrel join the lab. Welcome! (4/1/13)

My Dang joins the lab. Welcome! (3/8/13)

Eva-Maria was awarded the Sloan Research Fellowship in Physics. (2/14/13)

Lilia Ornelas joins the lab. Welcome! (2/8/13)

Lianne Cohen and Zenas Singh join the lab. Welcome! (2/1/13)

Nabila Tabassum and Christine Lind  join the lab. Welcome! (1/18/13)

Innkyu Moon joins the lab. Welcome! (1/14/13)

Phuong Truong joins the lab. Welcome! (11/28/12)

Jason Carter and Mary Tamme join the lab. Welcome! (11/19/12)

The lab equipment is finally unpacked and we are starting to do experiments again. (11/16/12)

Miya Fujimoto joins the lab. Welcome! (11/1/12)

All planarians and the lab equipment has now fully moved from Princeton to UCSD. (11/1/12)

We are moving to UCSD as of 11/1/2012

Our workshop summary on nightscience is now published in the ICASE May newsletter.Newsletter_0512

Dawn and Mark are joining the lab this summer. Welcome!

Eva-Maria talked at The Future of Biophysics Burroughs Wellcome Fund Symposium at the Biophysical Society meeting in San Diego. More info here: Program .

January 5, 2012: Eva-Maria received the Martin and Beate Block award in Aspen.

The registration for the 2012 Hands-On Research in Complex Systems School in Shanghai is now OPEN, see flyer .

Eva-Maria received the Burroughs Wellcome CASI award . For more information see the BWF website .

Sofi's paper appeared in the J. Stat. Phys. 142, 1324-1336 (2011)

Jared's paper appeared online in the Journal of Experimental Biology. 2011 Apr 1;214(Pt 7):1063-7.

Our article on population dynamics has been selected for inclusion in IOP select.

Eva-Maria and Sofia are trying to raise 16,000 US$ for a science camp for girls in Buea, Cameroon, for May 2012. Click HERE for more info!