About Alexander John Lea
Laidlaw Research and Leadership Scholar. Fourth year undergraduate student at Durham university, studying for a Master's in physics and chemistry. The research has two strands. Firstly, to model the physical interactions between two membrane-bound organelles which are separated by a droplet (a droplet is defined as a membrane-less organelle herein). Secondly, to model the formation of droplets on flexible membranes. A joint approach of mathematical theory and computational modelling is being applied. The computational model is coded using the Python programming language. It is anticipated that the first research strand will determine whether membrane-bound organelles can be glued together by droplets, thereby providing a non-specific membrane adhesion mechanism. Comprehension of this mechanism is crucial for understanding how cells organise and function. A report on this strand (carried out in summer 2019) has not been published as this research has not yet obtained results. However, this work will be continued by a PhD student starting autumn 2020. The second strand will investigate the feasibility of droplet formation on intracellular surfaces, thereby challenging the current paradigm that droplet formation is not a surface phenomenon. This work will be further developed by a Masters student starting autumn 2020. This research will provide a quantitative insight into cellular organisation and function, which may have important consequences in better understanding how to treat diseases of the brain due to ageing, neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Outside of my studies I enjoy board-games, hill-walking and science outreach.