Pankaj Mehta, Hariri Institute Junior Faculty Fellow and Assistant Professor of Physics, has been selected as a 2014 Simons Investigator in Mathematical Modeling of Living Systems. This program invites nominations from institutions in the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom. Awardees are recognized as outstanding theoretical scientists who will receive long-term research support from the Simons Foundation.
Pankaj Mehta works on collective behaviors in cell dynamics. He is particularly known for his information theoretic analysis of quorum sensing (where groups of many cells are much more sensitive to changes in environment than single cells). His theoretical work, in collaboration with the Bassler experimental group, demonstrated the importance of interference between different signaling channels and provided a mathematical model of the concentrations of receptor cells, which adjust themselves in response to multiple and time-varying signals so as to respond optimally to environmental cues. His research plans include the development and testing of a new quantitative framework for modeling high-dimensional ‘epigenetic landscapes’ and work on understanding collective behavior in cell populations.