New Faculty: Assistant Professor of Physics Asja Radja
As we begin the semester, we're highlighting Bryn Mawr's newest faculty members. The College supports faculty excellence in both research and teaching.
Asja Radja's research elucidates the “rules of living patterns” that lead to a variety of shapes and add to our understanding of how life builds itself.
"Life is organized at many length scales ranging from the molecular to what we can see with our naked eyes, and there is an incredible amount of complexity in the shapes and patterns that we can see at these different levels of organization," says Radja. "In my lab, I identify the physical phenomena that govern these various levels of organization."
Radja points to pollen as an example of her research interests.
"You might be familiar with pollen if you have allergies. What you might not know, however, is that if you look at pollen under a microscope, you will see that these pesky particles are single cells that have beautifully decorated surfaces that make them look like, among other things, miniature soccer balls or spiky balls!
"The goal in my doctoral work was to figure out what are the physics that dictate how these patterns form, and what I discovered was that during the development of these cells, a sugar-mixture on the surface phase-separates (similarly to how oil and vinegar naturally separate in the vinaigrette in your kitchen pantry), and it’s this phase separation process that that creates a unique pattern on the surface of these cells."
Radja says her hope at Bryn Mawr is to build a lab where she and her students can continue exploring these and other unique and beautiful patterns found in our natural world.
"Nature is an incredible source of inspiration for physics, and I look forward to my students discovering the next set of cool and unique physics that describes the squishy, complicated, and unusual world of biology."