College of Science
Moumita (Mo) Das is a theoretical soft matter physicist by training, and her research focuses on Biological Physics. She is an Associate Professor at the School of Physics and Astronomy and a program faculty at the Math Modeling Ph.D. Program at the School of Mathematical Sciences.
Moumita received her Ph.D. in 2005 in the non-equilibrium statistical physics of driven colloids and liquid crystals at the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore. Her dissertation highlights include developing a theory of inhomogeneous nematic hydrodynamics to understand and explain the rheological chaos experimentally observed in wormlike micellar fluids. This was followed by postdoctoral research at Harvard University on the elasticity of thin sheets and shells, where she uncovered a novel geometry-driven analog of first-order phase transitions, and at UCLA, where she developed an analytical framework to derive the effective medium elasticity of semiflexible biopolymer networks. She continued working on the rigidity of biopolymer networks as a VENI fellow at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, developing models that elucidated mechanisms underlying mechanics and force transmission in composite biopolymer networks in cells. Dr. Das joined RIT in 2012. Das’s research focuses on connecting the microscale structure and constitutive properties to mesoscale functions in cells, tissues, and synthetic biomaterials. The Das Group seeks to obtain a mechanistic understanding of the collective behavior that emerge in these systems as a result of the interplay of statistical mechanics, geometry, and mechanobiological (or electrophysiological) properties, to answer the following questions: What are the physical principles and mechanisms that underlie the material properties and structure-function relationships of living cells and tissues? How can we use the insights from studying them to design synthetic biomimetic materials with sense-compute-respond functionalities and develop new and better approaches to treating diseases? She and her mentees investigate these questions in a wide range of network-like systems, including the cytoskeleton of cells, extracellular matrices of cartilage tissue, cyanobacteria-based networks in synthetic materials, and synthetic neuronal systems. They use analytical and computational approaches and work in close collaboration with experimentalists. For example, in recently published work supported by the National Science Foundation, Das, her mentees, and their experimental collaborators at Cornell University used a rigidity percolation framework to understand the structural origins of cartilage tissue’s shear mechanics and pathways to osteoarthritis (Science Advances, 2022), and to provide principles for the rational design of engineered materials that mimic the tunable mechanics and fracture resistance of cartilage tissue ( Soft Matter, 2022). Other collaborators include experimentalists at RIT, the University of San Diego, the University of Chicago, Syracuse University, the University of Rochester, the Universities of California at San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and San Diego, and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Stanford University, Indiana University, Johns Hopkins University, Purdue University, and the Baylor School of Medicine. The Das group’s research is supported by awards from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Keck Foundation. Previously her work has also been supported by the Moore Foundation, the Research Corporation, and the National Science Foundation. Das is an enthusiastic organizer for the biophysics community and co-organizes and co-hosts a popular weekly virtual seminar series called Biological Physics/Physical Biology Seminar with participants from all over the world. She is also a strong advocate for underrepresented groups in Physics and is committed to increasing their participation and visibility.
Moumita (Mo) Das
School of Physics and Astronomy
College of Science