Cylindric Partitions

This research project is at the interface between enumerative combinatorics and mathematical physics. It is centered on cylindric partitions, which are combinatorial objects that are connected with different fields: hypergeometric identities, string theory, probability theory and nonequilibrium statistical physics.

Evolution of Gustatory Preferences in Herbivorous Insects

Plant-feeding insects are extraordinarily diverse as a result of their co-diversification with their host plants over 400 million years. One of the major adaptations necessary for herbivorous feeding is the ability to preferentially feed on the appropriate host plants, but how taste evolves in herbivorous insects is not well understood at molecular genetic and neurophysiological levels.

Langlands duality and spectra of quantum integrable systems

The category of finite-dimensional representations of a quantum affine algebra is one of the most studied objects in quantum groups theory with remarkable applications in various branches of Mathematics and Physics. However many important and fundamental questions remain unsolved in this field. The aim of this research project is to make advances in the understanding of the category as well as of its applications to  quantum integrable systems and in the context of the Langlands program.

The Evolution of Specificity in Parallel Pathways of Signaling in Animal Cells

Small GTPases are small protein switches that cycle between "on" states and "off" states and are key stop or go deciders in many important cellular tasks, such as growth or death. There are many distinct versions of these proteins in cells, each with a specific task or pathway. This project will investigate why proteins that interact with a GTPase in one pathway are specifically paired to their distinct GTPase and do not cross talk with GTPases in other pathways. This is a key unanswered question of major biomedical importance.

Mechanism of Homology Search during Genetic Recombination

Despite its importance for genome maintenance, the basic mechanism by which this homologous molecule is identified amidst the genome remains elusive. We tackle this fundamental gap in our understanding of homologous recombination, as well as the poorly characterized role in this process of conserved protein of clinical significance. To this end, we combine in vitro protein biochemistry (Heyer lab) and novel physical assays to monitor intermediates and steps of the repair reaction in cells (Piazza lab).

Photo-Generated Molecule-Based Magnets

This project aims to develop molecule-based permanent magnets through a combination of chemical synthesis and photomagnetism. This work will leverage and combine the expertise in the synthesis of molecule-based magnets of co-PI Dr. D. Harris, a project scientist at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), with the expertise in photomagnetism of co-PI Dr. R. Clérac, a CNRS researcher at the Centre de Recherche Paul Pascal (CRPP) in Bordeaux, France.

Optimally mapping the dark matter in the universe with the CMB

The microwaves produced shortly after the Big Bang have traveled across nearly the entire visible universe before reaching the Earth today, their paths having been slightly deflected by the gravity field of the dark matter encountered along the way. This distortion both encodes valuable information about the dark (and regular) matter, and obscures properties of the Big Bang itself.

Dissecting the function of budding yeast septin Shs1 throughout cell division

In budding yeast (S. cerevisiae), septins are essential for cell division. Within the hetero-octameric S. cerevisiae septin complex, the role of the Shs1 subunit remains still unclear. We propose here, using a combination of fluorescence and electron microscopy, as well as biomimetic in vitro and in vivo approaches, to investigate in details the phenotypes of specific mutants of Shs1. Specifically, we will focus our investigations on the C-terminal unstructured domain of Shs1 and on its GTP/GDP binding domain.