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 understanding the role of cell physical phenotypes in functional behaviors, such as cancer cell invasion and metastasis. Many of the proteins that regulate cell physical properties, such as deformability and contractility, are essential in motility and mechanotransduction. Therefore developing mechanistic knowledge of cell physical phenotypes can provide novel insight into modulating cancerous behaviors of cells.

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 physical properties and invasion of cancer cells
  • Shape stability of the cell nucleus
  • 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. Learn more on our Science & Food blog hosted by Discover Magazine. For more information about next year's Science & Food course and associated outreach and 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.
February 7, 2018
Amy Rowat is a Finalist for the 2018 SLAS Innovator Award.
August 25, 2017
Congratulations Dr. Nyberg on a successful PhD defense.
August 3, 2017
Congratulations Dr. Nguyen for a successful PhD defense.
April 25, 2017
Kendra awarded the Distinguished Teaching Assistant Award - first to an engineering student in 30 years! Read all about it here.
Feb 14, 2017
Amy Rowat is now a tenured professor!
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.