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PhD studentship in "Statistical mechanics of single cells" at the Cambridge University Engineering Department

Eukaryotic cells exhibit considerable variability in their responses in terms of observables such as cell shape, cell area, cytoskeletal protein arrangements etc. This variability/fluctuation is inherent to the bio-chemical processes occurring within cells: in-fact cells use these fluctuations to detect and respond to their environment. However, these fluctuations have largely been neglected in most modelling approaches with attention restricted to deterministic models. The aim of the project is to develop a rigorous statistical mechanics framework for the response of single cells to their extra-cellular environment. This will involve two steps: (i) develop a coupled bio-chemo-mechanical model for the interactions of cells with their mechanical and chemical environments and (ii) employ this model within a statistical mechanics framework to investigate the sensitivity of the response to a range of engineered environments. The project is primarily computational in nature with the candidate required to develop multi-physics models for cells as well as associated Bayesian methods to calculate entropy functions and probability distributions.


The project will be conducted in close collaboration with a number of experimental researchers in the US and continental Europe. These researchers are performing the detailed measurements that will provide the required data to validate the approach. There will be opportunities for the candidate to spend time in these laboratories.


Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least a good 2.1 degree (preferably a first or its equivalent) in Engineering, Physics or related subject. A strong interest in both multi-physics modelling and computational techniques is essential.


Application instructions:



Applicants may contact Prof. Vikram Deshpande ( for informal inquiries. To apply, please complete form CHRIS /6 (cover sheet for C.V.s) available at and send it with your C.V. and a covering letter Ms. Hilde Fernandez <> to arrive no later than 15 December 2016


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