Venue: 335 West Hall
Bio: Padmini Rangamani is an associate professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, San Diego. She joined the department in July 2014. Earlier, she was a UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow, where she worked on lipid bilayer mechanics. She obtained her Ph.D. in biological sciences from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She received her B.S. and M.S. in Chemical Engineering from Osmania University (Hyderabad, India) and Georgia Institute of Technology respectively. She is the recipient of the ARO, AFOSR, and ONR Young Investigator Awards, and a Sloan Research Fellowship for Computational and Molecular Evolutionary Biology. She is also the lead PI for a MURI award on Bioinspired low energy information processing from the AFOSR.
The ability of the brain to encode and store information depends on the plastic nature of the individual synapses. The increase and decrease in synaptic strength, mediated through the structural plasticity of the spine, are important for learning, memory, and cognitive function. Dendritic spines are small structures that contain the synapse. They come in a variety of shapes (stubby, thin, or mushroom-shaped) and a wide range of sizes that protrude from the dendrite. These spines are the regions where the postsynaptic biochemical machinery responds to the neurotransmitters. Spines are dynamic structures, changing in size, shape, and number during development and aging. While spines and synapses have inspired neuromorphic engineering, the biophysical events underlying synaptic and structural plasticity remain poorly understood.
Our current focus is on understanding the biophysical events underlying structural plasticity. I will discuss two recent efforts from my group — first, a systems biology approach to construct a mathematical model of biochemical signaling and actin-mediated transient spine expansion in response to calcium influx caused by NMDA receptor activation and second, a series of spatial models to study the role of spine geometry and organelle location within the spine for calcium and cyclic AMP signaling. I will conclude with some new efforts in using reconstructions from electron microscopy to inform computational domains. I will conclude with how geometry and mechanics plays an important role in our understanding of fundamental biological phenomena and some general ideas on bio-inspired engineering.
Prof. Rangamani is being hosted by Prof. Garikipati (Mechanical Engineering). If you would like to meet with her please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are an MICDE student and would like to join Prof. Rangamani for lunch please fill out this form