Dr. Benjamin A. Dalton
Benjamin A. Dalton was a joint ELBE Postdoctoral Fellow of the MOSAIC Group and the Brugues Lab from July 2015 until December 2019. He is an Australian citizen and was born in Melbourne, Australia. After leaving the MOSAIC Group, Benjamin became a research fellow at the Free University of Berlin.
He completed his PhD in the field of computational nanofluidics at RMIT University in Melbourne under the supervision of Prof. Peter Daivis of RMIT and Prof. Billy Todd of Swinburne University of Technology. As part of his PhD he used molecular dynamics to quantify nonlinear coupling effects between liquid structure and driven inhomogeneous shear flow at the atomic length scale in simple atomic fluids. His work with thermostats in MD simulations allowed his group to clearly identify which equilibrium definitions of microscopic temperature are appropriate for the use of thermostats on nonequilibrium shearing steady state fluids. Combining these areas he developed various inhomogeneous temperature and density control systems suitable for application in MD simulations of nonequilibrium nano-confined fluids.
During his time at the Center for Systems Biology Dresden, the Max Planck Institute for Cellular Biology and Genetics and the Max Planck institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Benjamin was developing a general purpose stochastic simulation tool for modeling active filament networks. The simulation tool combines a Brownian motion description of interacting rigid filament colloids with stochastically binding and unbinding active cross-linking motor proteins. The relative walking motion of the bound motor proteins transduces chemical energy into mechanical energy at the molecular level, driving non-equilibrium states at the systems level. This is distinct from traditional driven nonequilibrium systems, where the energy driving the system is introduced from an external field, usually at the larger spatial scales of the system. Adding nucleation and mass turnover by way of polymerisation and depolymerisation processes the group is now able to explore the emergence and self-organization of processes in active filamentous networks, such as those that are observed in the bipolar spindle and cytoskeleton of cells. The group is currently using these simulations to explore the role of the rigidity transition in active filament networks and the means by which forces can be transferred over long distances in these networks.
In addition Benjamin was also involved in experimental projects in the Brugues lab where he was investigating the self-organization of metaphase microtubule structure in Xenopus laevis frog egg extracts. Using TIRF microscopy he developed an assay to image the full development of microtubule monopole structures, in the presence of DNA, in high resolution. This assay has contributed to the groups current understanding of the microtubule nucleation processes that are essential for the formation and maintenance of the bipolar spindle in Xenopus laevis frog cells.