February 27 2023 The Higgs Centre for Theoretical Physics, University of Edinburgh
Organised by: Marco Mazza (Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical Modelling, Loughborough University) Tyler Shendruk (School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Edinburgh)
Image credit: Esinam Dake, Loughborough University
The response to last year's "Motility in Microbes, Molecules, and Matter" workshop was overwhelmingly positive, and we were thrilled to see the level of interest from both biologists and physicists, as well as experimentalists and mathematical modelers. As a result, Tyler Shendruk (University of Edinburgh) and Marco Mazza co-organized "Motility in Microbes, Molecules and Matter 2," which took place on February 27th, 2023 at The Higgs Centre for Theoretical Physics in Edinburgh. While the first edition filled the need to go back to in-person meetings after the lockdown, we experimented with the format to allow for more in-depth discussions of specific problems. We did this by implementing focused round-table dialogues, which enabled participants to delve deeper into the two main systems we addressed. These systems were: Morphogenetic fields and cell motility: This system encompasses the complex feedback loop between motility, adhesion, mechanobiological sensing, and chemical signaling in the life cycle cells in tissues. Structural rearrangements within biofilm communities: To survive and thrive, biofilms must rapidly respond to environmental conditions, including antagonistic innate immune responses. We examined whether aspects of collective response could be understood from the perspectives of dynamic instabilities or structural transitions. Following a series of insightful invited talks, we moved to the round-table discussions, which sparked lively debates and raised some thought-provoking questions. For example, participants asked, "What do you wish that a theoretician could provide you with to help your experiments?" The workshop drew in around 30 in-person participants, ranging from PIs to PhD students. The latter had the opportunity to present their work in a poster session, providing a platform for early-career researchers to showcase their contributions to the field. Overall, the event proved to be a valuable forum for cross-disciplinary collaboration and knowledge sharing.