Awards Database

Cottrell Scholar Awards - 2017

Kirill S. Korolev

Assistant Professor of Physics, Boston University

Chiral Pattern Formation and the Benefits of Chirality

People are generally right-handed or left-handed. The same applies to denizens of the microbial world: many bacteria, some types of cancer, and embryonic tissues form patterns that are consistently left or right-handed. This left-right asymmetry is called “chirality,” and no one really knows why many microscopic organisms are chiral.

Kirill S. Korolev, physics, Boston University, has received a Cottrell Scholar Award from Research Corporation for Science Advancement to investigate whether the chirality in the microbial world is a result of natural selection rather than an accidental byproduct of evolution.

He and his associates will develop models motivated by recent experimental results and study competition between strains of cells with different chiralities. In the process, he hopes to create a theory of the origin and role of these puzzling phenomena and place them within the framework of statistical physics. If successful, his work might give future scientists the ability to control certain types of cell growth.

There is also an education component to the Cottrell Scholar Award. Korolev will use some of the funding to develop a new course to train students in modeling, nonequilibrium physics, and biophysics. “The course will address an important gap in our curriculum and will be the first attempt at BU Physics to create an upper-division undergraduate course completely focused on peer instruction, active-learning, and student-centered pedagogy,” Korolev said.

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