The cell as a physical object (BEP)


Biological tissues are complex materials composed of cells, responsible for the biological activity, and the extracellular matrix, responsible for the mechanical and structural integrity of the tissue. While the cell is clearly important for its biology, the physical presence of a cell in extracellular matrix materials has recently been shown to have a strong effect on the mechanical response of the tissue as a whole.

This project aims to understand the effect of cells as physical objects in extracellular matrix materials such as collagen or hyaluronic acid. To do this you will prepare synthetic tissues with microgels as a proxy for the cell. You will then observe how the structure of the “extracellular matrix” changes due to the microgels. Additionally, you will measure the mechanics of the constructs using a rheometer and have the option of simultaneously compressing the samples while imaging using a home-built setup.


Iain Muntz ( and Prof. Dr. Gijsje Koenderink (