Our lab welcomes Masters students interested in performing projects at the intersection of Physics, Engineering and Biology. We offer projects that cover many disciplines, these are open to Masters student from EPFL (SV, STI, SB, ENAC and IC) and from outside EPFL.
Email Alex if you are interested in finding out more.
Project in Life Sciences
The bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a pathogen that fatally infects individuals with compromised immune system such as AIDS patients or cancer patients undergoing immunotherapy. It is the leading cause of hospital-acquired infections and a major threat since it is has already developed resistance to all major classes of antibiotics. During infection, P. aeruginosa injects toxins directly into host cells and in the extracellular environment. However, the mechanisms that trigger pathogenicity remain unclear. In this project, you will use a combination of bacterial genetics and microscopy tools to understand how this pathogen senses its environment to initiate infection.
Project in Physics of Living Systems
Through their long evolutionary history, bacteria have adapted to colonize nearly all types of environments on the surface of our planet, where they are exposed to a variety of physical phenomena. We are interested in determining how bacteria respond to the mechanics of their environments, such as fluid flow and contact with different surfaces. We try to understand how such system provides these organisms with selective advantages in the wild, be it in colonization or virulence. To achieve this, we leverage advanced microscopy techniques to simultaneously measure mechanical properties of the environment with cellular responses. In one example, we use interferometric scattering microscopy (iSCAT) to visualize pili, micrometer-long protein filament that extend and retract from the cell surface using dedicated molecular motors. We are looking for a motivated student to extend this technique to visualization of the interplay between different molecular motors and pili activity.