Amy Rowat


phone:   54026

office:  1125 Terasaki Life Sciences Bldg


research interests:  Mechanics and Physiology of Biological Materials


B.Sc., Physics (honors, With Distinction), Mount Allison University 1998
B.A., Asian Studies, French, & Math (honors), Mount Allison University 1999
M.Sc., Chemistry, Technical University of Denmark 2000
Ph.D., Physics, University of Southern Denmark 2005

Research Interests

Broadly our research is motivated by understanding the link between the mechanics and physiology of biological materials. Currently our research efforts focus on the cell nucleus.

The cell nucleus is central to genome integrity, gene expression, and mechanobiology; despite the major changes that occur in differentiation and disease, the basic physical and mechanical properties of this important organelle remain poorly understood. We explore the structure and organization of the nucleus at multiple levels, from the origins of nuclear shape to subnuclear structure and dynamics, and the resulting consequences for cellular physiology; to do this we use a multidisciplinary approach, that includes developing and applying new technologies to link molecular-scale composition and genotype with biophysical phenotype.

Our research aims to link physical properties, structure, and physiological function of the cell nucleus. We are interested in questions like: What determines the size and shape of the nucleus? How rigid or squishy are cell nuclei in different cell and tissue types, and how does this contribute to the deformability of the whole cell? When the nucleus changes shape, how does that affect the organization and mobility of components within the nucleus? What are the implications for physiological function?

To address these questions, our strategy is to probe cells, tissues, and organisms, merging techniques from the physical sciences such as micro-fabrication and -manipulation and quantitative image analysis, with methods in molecular biology. This includes developing and applying novel high-throughput, single cell technologies, as well as complementary studies using deformation, higher resolution imaging, and analysis of individual cells. More broadly, the techniques we develop can be applied to study the effect of mechanical and chemical environment on cellular behavior: Why do some cells have a stiffness similar to Jell-o? How does a cell's mechanical and physical environment affect its behavior?

Selected Publications

Lautscham, L.A., Kaemmerer, C., Lange, J., Kolb, T., Mark, C., Schilling, A., Strissel, P., Strick, R., Gluth, C., Rowat, A.C., Metzner, C., Fabry, B., "Migration in confined 3D environments is determined by a combination of adhesiveness, nuclear volume, contractility, and cell stiffness", Biophys. J, 109 : 1-14 (2015) .

Zhou L, Nyberg K, Rowat AC, "Understanding Fick's law and diffusion theory through food & cooking", Adv. Physiol. Edu, 39 : 192-197 (2015) .

Soh, M., Roth-Johnson, E.A., Levis, M., Rowat, A.C., "Interactive taste tests enhance student learning", Adv. Physiol. Edu, 45 : 44-48 (2015) .

Clarke, C.F., Rowat, A.C., Gober, J.W., "A new function for Coenzyme Q: A membrane stabilizer?", Nat. Chem. Biol, 10 : 242-243 (2014) .

Rowat, A.C., "The Molecules We Eat: Food as a Medium to Communicate Science", Flavour, 2 : 10- (2013) .

Rowat, A.C., Jaalouk, D.E., Zwerger, M., Ung, L., Eydelnant, I., Olins, D.E., Olins, A., Herrmann, H., Weitz, D.A., and Lammerding, J., "Nuclear envelope composition determines the ability of neutrophil-type cells to passage through micron-scale constrictions", J. Biol. Chem, 288 : 8610-8618 (2013) .

Qi, D., Chan, C.K., and Rowat, A.C., "Parallel fabrication of an array of holes in PDMS", Lab on a Chip ?? Chips & Tips, (2012) [link].

Martinez, C.J., Kim, J.W., Ye, C., Ortiz, I., Rowat, A.C., Marquez, M., and Weitz, D.A., "A microfluidic approach to encapsulate living cells in uniform alginate hydrogel microparticles", Macromolecular Bioscience, 12 : 946-951 (2012) .

Rowat, A.C., Hollar, K., Rosenberg, D., and Stone, H.A., "The science of chocolate: phase transitions, emulsification, and nucleation", J. Chem. Edu, 88 : 29-33 (2011) .

Rowat, A.C., Hollar, K., Rosenberg, D., and Stone, H.A., "The science of pizza: the molecular origins of cheese, bread, and digestion using interactive activities", J. Food Sci. Edu, 9 : 106-112 (2010) .