Motor Proteins, Microtubules and Morphogenesis

Professor Jonathon Howard
Professor, Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University (on sabbatical as Visiting Professor, SMS, UNSW School of Medicine)
1 June 2018 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Rountree Room 356, Level 3, Biological Sciences Building D26

The Howard lab is fascinated by the question of how small molecules like proteins, lipids and nucleotides self-assemble into cells and tissues that are thousands to millions of times larger than molecular dimensions. How do the molecules know whether the structures that they have made are the right size and shape, and localized correctly within the cell? The lab is approaching these questions in the context of the microtubule cytoskeleton, which underlies the morphology and movement of eukaryotic cells. Using high-resolution and single-molecule techniques, the group is trying to trying to understand the interaction rules that allow molecules to work together to form highly organized, yet dynamic cellular structures. Principles of self-organization will include examples from cell division, cilia-driven movement and neuronal branching morphology.

Speaker Biography: Jonathon (Joe) Howard is a biophysicist interested in how motor proteins and the cytoskeleton shape and move cells. He uses optical and mechanical techniques to study the behavior of individual molecules, and uses theory and computation to understand how molecular interactions give rise to coordinated, collective behaviour at the cell level. After studying mathematics (B.Sc.) and neurobiology (Ph.D.) at the Australian National University in Canberra, he has moved around geographically—Bristol, San Francisco, Seattle, Heidelberg, Dresden, New Haven—where he has pursued a diverse range of scientific interests including vision, audition, intracellular transport, mitosis, cell motility, embryonic development and neuronal morphogenesis.