Nothing is a Straight Line: Solving Non-linear Biophysical Problems (Including Life)


Friday January 12, 2024
1:30 pm - 2:30 pm


Event Category

Ré Mansbach
Assistant Professor of Physics
Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, CA

pronouns: they/them/iel ou il


Physicists enjoy simplicity; there is a reason that the spherical cow in a vacuum is a running joke. And simplicity can be very important in making progress on complex problems. If there is some way to reduce the number of considerations in a problem from thousands even to hundreds, it is often a much easier problem to solve. But how do you know what's important? There is no one single, straight answer. I will talk today about some of the tactics I take towards problems—in my science, in my career, and in my mental health. I will introduce you to techniques such as multi-scale molecular dynamics simulations, deep learning, and dimensionality reduction, in the context of one of my lab's major areas: the design of small proteins (antimicrobial peptides or AMPs) that can destroy bacteria. I will also describe some of our early results in probing and describing search spaces for AMPs and assessing the molecular properties of an unusual beta-sheet-forming AMP. Along the way, I will describe my own career trajectory and some advice I have for younger scientists from all backgrounds (but spoilers! my favorite piece of advice is to ignore any advice that isn't right for you.)


Timbits, coffee, tea will be served in STI A before the colloquium


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