Benjamin Weiner, Ph.D.
Center for Studies in Physics and Biology
From multicellular organisms such as humans to the microbes that shape many environments, life is organized into communities of interacting cells. What rules govern these complex communities, and how do they emerge from physical processes within cells? Weiner uses tools from physics and ecology to understand how a cellular community becomes more than the sum of its parts. Previously, he studied how spatial structure emerges within cells—via the formation of biomolecular condensates—and how spatial territories shape biodiversity in microbial ecosystems. His current research centers on the “ecology” of an organism, with examples including the differentiation of cell types during development and microbe-immune interactions in the gut. By connecting processes across scales, from molecular interactions inside cells to mechanical interactions between them, he aims to uncover general organizational principles as well as provide practical insights into health and disease.