Job Posting: Joint postdoctoral research and teaching fellow in biological active matter physics

The Physics and Biophysics Department at the University of San Diego is currently inviting applications for a unique postdoctoral fellow position expressly designed to prepare PhDs for faculty positions at undergraduate institutions. The successful candidate will conduct biological active matter physics research in the Robertson-Anderson lab, teach undergraduate physics and biophysics courses, and mentor undergraduate researchers. The time devoted to each will be customized to match the strengths, desires, and future aspirations of the postdoc. 
Research: The open postdoctoral position is highly interdisciplinary and will provide ample opportunities for developing expertise in: optical tweezers microrheology, fluorescence microscopy, high throughput computational data acquisition and analysis, DDM and fourier image analysis, cytoskeleton protein purification and characterization, and materials design and synthesis. This research also includes collaborations with researchers from University of Chicago, UCSB, Syracuse, and RIT, so the postdoc will build a strong national network of mentors and peers at top-ranking research universities. The Robertson-Anderson lab, in the Physics and Biophysics Department at the University of San Diego, specializes in designing bio-inspired soft materials with novel emergent properties, and elucidating the macromolecular dynamics that give rise to the fascinating physical properties that these active materials exhibit. To this end, we develop and use optical tweezers and fluorescence microscopy techniques to characterize microrheological, dynamical, and structural properties. We are a diverse and dynamic group of postdocs, undergraduates, and collaborators from across the world, and our research is broadly funded by NSF, WM Keck Foundation, NIH, AFOSR, and Research Corporation.
Mentoring: The postdoc will have the opportunity to mentor 1-4 undergraduate researchers in the Robertson-Anderson lab each year (depending on postdoc interest). Responsibilities will likely include mentoring 1-2 students working directly under the postdoc, and 1-2 students working on related research projects. The postdoc will not only gain valuable mentoring experience, but will also co-author publications/presentations resulting from the undergraduate research projects. 
Teaching: The postdoc will have the opportunity to teach 1-2 undergraduate lecture and/or lab courses each year in the Physics and Biophysics Department. Courses taught will initially be the lower-division course sequence for life science majors, but there will be opportunities to teach upper-division and special topics courses if desired. The exact number and type of courses will be jointly decided by the postdoc and PI.
Application process: Candidates should have a PhD in physics, although related doctoral degrees will be considered. Applications should include a cover letter, CV, and 3 letters of recommendation. All materials should be emailed to Applications will be considered until the position is filled.

Dr. Rae Robertson-Anderson Leads $1.8 Million NSF Grant to Program Biological Cells to Design Futuristic Materials

Rae Robertson-Anderson is leading a team of researchers who were recently awarded a $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to design and create next-generation materials inspired and empowered by biological cells. Funding for the project begins on October 1.
Robertson-Anderson will be working alongside a team of physicists, biologists and engineers, four of whom are women, including: Prof. Megan Valentine at the University of California Santa Barbara, Prof. Jennifer Ross at Syracuse University, Prof. Michael Rust at the University of Chicago and Prof. Moumita Das at Rochester Institute of Technology. 
The team’s goal is to create self-directed, programmable, and reconfigurable materials -- using biological building blocks including proteins and cells --- that are capable of producing force and motion. This research could pave the way for future materials applications ranging from self-healing bridges and self-propulsive materials to programmable micro-robotics, wound healing and dynamic prosthetics.
 Please access the news release here

USD news release on DNA topology and mobility research

Dr. Robertson-Anderson collaborated with three other researchers from Edinburgh, Scotland and Vienna, Austria to investigate the effect of DNA topology on its mobility and was recently published in Science Advances for research titled, ‘Topological tuning of DNA mobility in entangled solutions of supercoiled plasmids.’

Please access the news release here

NIH R15 grant has been renewed

NIH: Drs. Robertson-Anderson and McGorty have been awarded a NIH R15 to fund undergraduate researchers to develop Biomimetic cytoskeleton systems and advanced microscopy methods to reveal intracellular DNA dynamics and distributions. Their previous R15 resulted in 9 papers and 1 book chapter with 7 undergraduate co-authors and 13 national presentations with 10 undergraduate presenters.

Gregor Leech (Biophysics '22) was awarded a Barry Goldwater Scholarship

In his words: "I would never have earned the Goldwater scholarship if it wasn’t for the encouragement and guidance of my advisor and research mentor, Dr. Rae Robertson-Anderson. Receiving the award validated all the hard work –the long nights, work-filled weekends-- the cliché ‘no pain, no gain’ right? But really, I owe it to all the help and inspiration from my friends, professors and the amazing people I get to work with in the Anderson/McGorty biophysics lab. I’m so grateful to be a part of their lives. Special thanks to Dr. Gloria Lee, Dr. Ryan McGorty, Dr. Greg Severn, Dr. Ted Dezen, Philip Neill, and Dr. Rae Robertson-Anderson".                      He wrote an essay on his involvement in studying active matter bio-materials in our lab

USD news release on autonomous and tunable biomaterials project

Gregor Leech, junior undergraduate and biophysics major, has been working on autonomous and tunable biomaterials project since 2020. The goal of his research is to replicate the cytoskeletons in order to create autonomous materials that don’t need human input to move, morph and do work. You can access the published research: “Myosin-driven actin-microtubule networks exhibit self-organized contractile dynamics” in Science Advances, here.

Please access the USD news release here.

Ricketts (Biophysics '18) is currently a doctoral candidate at UNC Chapel Hill (Fall 2020)

Shea Ricketts earned her B.A. in Biophysics from the University of San Diego in 2018. She conducted research in our lab between 2016-2020. She characterized the relationship between force and deformation and network mobility and integration in varying cytoskeletal composites of actin and microtubules. She has started her doctoral program (Biological and Biomedical Sciences) at the University of North Carolina (UNC-Chapel Hill) in Fall 2020.

Regan (Biophysics '18) is currently a doctoral candidate at Boston University (Fall 2019).

Kathryn Regan graduated with a Biophysics major and Math minor degree in the Spring of 2018. She first began working in Dr. Anderson's lab in November of 2015, focusing her work on the dynamics of crowded and entangled DNA. She started her doctoral program (Biomedical Engineering) at Boston University for Fall 2019.

Dr. Robertson-Anderson organized a symposium on Soft Matter, held at USD, September 2019.

This is an annual program held at USD. More details are available "here".

Dr. Bekele Gurmessa is an assistant professor at Bucknell University

Dr. Bekele Gurmessa received his Ph.D. from the North Dakota State University's Department of Physics in 2015. He then joined Dr. Anderson's lab as a postdoctoral researcher in 2015 and worked in the lab till 2019 summer. He has been working as an assistant professor at Bucknell University since Fall 2019.

Robertson-Anderson and Ricketts featured on KUSI 'Good Morning San Diego'

Robertson-Anderson and Ricketts (USD '18) were featured on local morning news show 'Good Morning San Diego' to discuss Robertson-Anderson's recently awarded Keck Research Grant and perform a demo using the non-Newtonian fluid 'ooblek'. They described the goals of the research grant to KUSI news anchors, and demonstrated how a simple mixture of cornstarch and water ('ooblek') can exemplify many of the key principles of the autonomous materials proposed in the grant. View the video clip "here". Related news stories can be found on "KNSD" , "SD Metro", and "SD Transcript".

Dr. Robertson-Anderson awarded a $1M Research Grant from the W.M Keck Foundation

Robertson-Anderson, was recently awarded a Research Grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation. The $1M award is for collaborative research Robertson-Anderson will conduct with an interdisciplinary team of researchers from University of San Diego, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, University of Chicago, and Rochester Institute of Technology. USD undergraduates will play a key role in this cutting-edge research. The Keck Research Program aims to fund projects that are “distinctive and novel in their approach, question the prevailing paradigm, or have the potential to break open new territory in their field”. Robertson-Anderson and her team propose to create a revolutionary class of autonomous materials that can perform motion and work by harnessing biologically-derived molecular components. Specifically, the team will fuse the skeletal proteins from cells with circadian clock proteins to engineer a suite of tunable materials that can autonomously stiffen and soften. This revolutionary approach to materials engineering has the potential to create an entirely new class of “living” materials that can not only intelligently respond to external signals, but also anticipate future demands. For more information on Robertson-Anderson’s award and the Keck Research Program read the following "press release" and visit the "W. M Keck Foundation website".