Join Us

We currently have no open positions, but please reach out if you are interested in joining the group. Below find examples of projects we are currently interested in.

 

Modelling viruses in crowded biological environments – from statistical physics to quantum biology

supervised by Wolfram Moebius, Daniel Kattnig, and Krasimira Tsaneva

Our picture of interactions between biological entities is biased towards the schematic. For example, when we think of viral infections, we tend to imagine one virus and one isolated host cell, while often myriads of viruses interact with myriads of host cells in a densely “crowded” environment. How does this crowding affect the infection process and probability? Similarly, when we think of virus assembly inside a cell, we tend to think of only the viral components. But the cell is not a void otherwise. How do viruses thus get assembled in the busy, crowded environment of a cell?

This theory project will explore the consequences of crowdedness on ‘birth’ and ‘life’ of viruses. You will simulate, and explain theoretically, the interplay of thermal fluctuations and crowding by cells and molecules using a range of concepts from theoretical physics. While at the cellular scale, quantum effects are unlikely, crowding is predicted to interact and potentially enhance quantum phenomena on the molecular scale, thus possibly affecting virus assembly. This is another emerging aspect of realistic biological environments, which you will explore.