Alexander Mietke

Alexander Mietke

Between October 2014 and August 2018, Alexander Mietke was a joint PhD student between the MOSAIC group and the theoretical biophysics group of Prof. Frank Jülicher at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems (MPI-PKS), and then a postdoc with the MOSAIC Group from August 2018 until December 2018. He is a German citizen and was born in June 1989 in Zittau, Germany. After leaving the MOSAIC Group, Alexander became a Postdoctoral Researcher at MIT, Boston.

From 2008-2010, Alex worked as a student assistant at the Leibniz Institute for solid state and materials research Dresden on superconducting thin films. Funded by a RISE scholarship of the German academic exchange service, he went in 2009 for a research internship at the University of Virginia, Virginia, USA, where he worked on tracking Airy-states of ultracold neutrons. In 2011 this project was continued at the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, France, supported by an International student scholarship from the ILL. In 2010, Alex worked for two month at the Neurophysics department of the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig in the group of Prof. Robert Turner on regularization methods for analyzing MRI image data.

Alex received a Master of Advanced Studies in Applied Mathematics from the University of Cambridge in 2013 and a Diploma (equiv. M.Sc.) in physics from the Technische Universität Dresden in 2014, doing his Diploma thesis at the Biotechnology Center Dresden under the supervision of Prof. Jochen Guck. His thesis focused on theoretical aspects of mechanical cell measurements using microfluidic real-time deformability cytometry. A presentation of his work at the Young Researchers in Life Sciences conference 2014 at the Institut Pasteur in Paris was awarded the People’s Choice Award for the best talk. During his studies, Alex was financially supported by a talent scholarship from the German National Academic Foundation.

In the MOSAIC Group Alex developed a mesoscale model of tissue formation that is able to capture the influence of both mechanical and chemical cues present during development. This particularly included the development of numerical methods to simulate nonlinear vector-PDEs on deforming surfaces. The project was joint with the theoretical biophysics group of Prof. Frank Jülicher at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems (MPI-PKS).

A Word from Alexander...

One goal of the MOSAIC group is to understand morphogenetic processes in biology, with a particular focus on the complex 3D geometries in which they arise. To identify commonly underlying biophysical principles of active cell-shape changes and collective effects in deforming tissues, quantitative descriptions are required. However, the fact that these processes generate complexly shaped, moving, and actively deforming geometries, renders their rigorous description a challenging, non-linear problem. I am developing tools that address these challenges by analyzing the mechanico-chemical stability properties of such systems and conceiving numerical methods to describe active shape changes of cells and tissues as a consequence of the underlying mechanical activity.