The investigation and manipulation of the internal workings of cells is known as cellular engineering. Our research combines microfluidics, soft matter physics, cell biology and imaging to investigate how structures assemble within cells and how cells respond to external cues. Another important tool in this area is metabolic engineering, which relies on the elucidation of the architecture and interactions of metabolic networks within cells. A major area of research at Princeton is the study of liquid-liquid phase transition phenomena within cells that are responsible for the formation of membrane-less organelles.
Tissue engineering focuses at the level of cell assemblies — how they form, what signals and patterns in space and time determine the structure of organs in healthy and diseased states, and how external mechanical forces influence cell functioning and assembly.
At the intersection of the cellular and tissue engineering are studies of morphogenesis (development of organs) and embryogenesis (growth of embryos from a single fertilized cell). Our researchers study how cells cooperate and integrate to build complex tissue geometries, develop mathematical models for the quantitative analysis of development, and study how physical and chemical effects shape microbial communities and their collective functions.