The Rowat Lab studies the mechanics of biological materials and their role in physiology ranging from human health to the foods that we eat.

Our research efforts currently focus on the cell nucleus: we want to understand the role of nuclear physical and mechanical properties in whole cell mechanics and physiology, and ultimately the physical and molecular origins of these properties. 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, but such knowledge can provide insight into fundamental questions in the life sciences ranging from tissue regeneration to cancer.

To address these questions, we use a multidisciplinary approach to probe cells, tissues, and organisms using complementary methods from physics, engineering, cell biology, systems biology, and comparative physiology. Some topics we are working on:

  • High-throughput techniques for screening cells based on mechanical phenotype
  • Altered mechanical properties of cells and nuclei in cancer
  • Shape transitions of the cell nucleus during granulopoiesis
  • Physical properties of the plant cell nucleus
The physical properties and physiology of nuclei and cells are also interesting in the context of plants, animals, and the food that we eat. For example, why do some cells have a stiffness similar to Jell-o, while others are more like cream cheese? Food is rich with examples of scientific concepts, and is also an excellent way to engage students and a general audience in the excitement of scientific inquiry, the origins of what we eat, and the beauty of science in everyday life. To learn more about next year's Science & Food course and accompanying public events, stay tuned here.

Our work is supported by the National Science Foundation (CAREER DBI-1254185), the Department of Defense (Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Pilot Award), a UCLA Physical Sciences Entrepreneurship and Innovation Award, a UCLA Life Sciences Innovation Fund Award, the Hellman Foundation, the Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation, the Broad Stem Cell Research Center, the University of California Cancer Research Coordinating Committee, the UCLA Office of Instructional Development, a UCLA Faculty Career Development Award, Biorad, and the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute.
Jan 12, 2017
Congratulations to Dr. Chan on her successful PhD defense!
Dec 1, 2016
Congratulations to Tae-Hyung Kim, who won an ASCB Travel Award. Onwards to San Francisco!
Jun 11, 2016
Congratulations to Angelyn Nguyen on receiving the Eureka Scholarship!
Mar 5, 2016
Amy Rowat receives the UCLA Life Sciences Research Excellence Award.
Feb 3, 2016
Amy Rowat receives the UCLA Life Sciences Innovation Award.
Jan 30, 2016
Thanks to the Department of Defense - Ovarian Cancer Research Fund for supporting our research!
May 19, 2015
Navjot Kaur Gill is awarded the Eureka Scholarship. Congrats!
April 2, 2015
Congratulations to Mike Scott who is off to Northwestern MD/PhD program.
February 15, 2015
Amy Rowat receives UCLA Physical Sciences Entrepreneurship and Innovation Award.
Aug 7, 2014
Congratulations to Alia Welsh on being annointed to the Undergraduate Research Scholar Program.
Aug 4, 2014
Welcome to Mamiko Sano from Nagoya University who is a visiting researcher through the Japan-US Advanced Collaborative Education Program.
Jun 4, 2014
Amy Rowat receives UCLA Life Sciences Excellence in Educational Innovation award.
May 29, 2014
Congratulations to Alia Welsh - awardee of the prestigious Whitcome Fellowship!
May 2, 2014
Congratulations to Michael Soh who was awarded a 2014 Graduate Summer Research Mentorship.
April 27, 2014
Congrats to Liz Roth Johnson who is a 2014 AAAS Mass Media Fellow!
April 2, 2014
Congratulations to Sam Yang who was awarded Best Poster award at the UC Leads Symposium.
Jan 6, 2014
Welcome to ACCESS rotation student, Navjot Kaur Gill!
Dec 15, 2013
Interview with Amy Rowat in Physics Today.
Nov 1, 2013
Our work is featured in this brilliant animation by the University of California Office of the President Team.
Tues Jul 2, 2013
The NY Times shares our insights on how science builds a better pie.