Tyler Shendruk

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Tyler Shendruk

EMBO Long-Term Fellow

I am an EMBO long-term fellow in the Rudolf Peierls Centre for Theoretical Physics at the University of Oxford working with Julia Yeomans.

My scientific interests are exploring how the natural world flows around and within us. I use computational tools to simulate soft condensed matter systems, particularly biologically relevant situations. I'm generally interested in the perspective of “life as condensed matter”.

Research website

Two seemingly disassociated branches of biophysics have blossomed over the last decade: The importance of molecular motors on the elastic properties of the cytoskeleton is now widely appreciated and the fascinating collective behaviour of suspensions of motile cells have been studied in depth. By recognizing the common elements of these trends, my research attempts to advance the field of sub-cellular active fluids.

Because diffusion is such a notoriously slow process, cells go to great lengths to actively transport nutrients and other necessary biomolecules. Myosin continually shuttles vesicular cargo along F-actin filaments, while kinesins and dyneins drive directed transport along microtubules. Furthermore, driven flows are generated within eukaryotic cells, perhaps to combat the reduced diffusivity within the crowded environment of the cell. Yet, the physical mechanisms driving this cytoplasmic streaming remained vague until recent years. Studies on wide variety of cell types have demonstrated a link between cytoplasmic streaming and the activity of motor proteins shuttling relatively large sub-cellular cargo (such as chloroplasts or endoplasmic reticula). Regardless of the particular motor protein, these studies imply that from a coarse-grained perspective molecular motors and their cargo may constitute intracellular active fluids.

Read about previous work.

My other interest is science journalism. Scientists have an obligation to communicate their work to the greater public. As a graduate student, I wrote a weekly science column for the student paper called "What’s he building in there?" that introduced non-scientific undergraduate students to research and researchers on campus. These are freely available on my archive.

This summer I will be a BSA media fellow, placed at the Financial Times. The aim of this BSA program is to build bridges between science and journalist cultures within the UK by tackling "issues of mistrust and misrepresentation and to give journalists access to new scientific expertise."

Please follow my blog, Scientist on Assignment, and my twitter account, @BuildingInThere, to hear about my experiences working as a scientist in the media and to share your own experiences with the science journalism.