Experiments without a theoretical framework are just as incomplete as theory without experiments. Thus, at the lab we do both. On the theoretical front we are interested on developing concepts to understand the following:
Molecular autopoiesis, aging, and morphology: Molecular self-determination and cellular individuality in adapting bacteria. The aim is to develop a theoretical framework to account for the shape-shifting phenotypes we can induce with nanofabricated landscapes.
Cooperation, integration, and multicellularity: To link from cell to tissues we are trying to bridge ecological theories of cooperation in spatially distributed systems with theories of cell-cycle regulation, biofilm formation, chemotaxis, and quorum sensing.
Evolutionary diversification: To understand the origin and preservation of biodiversity in bacterial systems, we are developing adaptive dynamic theories of niche diversification, in the context of environmental modification (niche construction).
Ultimately, we aim to develop a system biology framework to scale from the level of molecular biophysics to the level of cell-to-cell integration and differentiation in synthetic on-chip ecosystems implementing a suit of adaptive (fitness) landscapes.