As a postdoc in Gary Slater's group, I am enjoying my work on biofilms --- complex colonies of autonomous bacterial cells. This for me is a new field which is un-correlated to any of my previous research experiences such as Brownian dynamics simulation of rigid rod-like colloids in shear flow and mesoscopic hybrid molecular dynamics / multi-particle collision dynamics simulation of chemically-powered self-propelled nanomotors. After a few initial months, a most detailed lattice Monte-Carlo simulation algorithm based on the bond-fluctuation algorithm (BFA), has been developed. This model is coarse-grained to the cellular level --- the cells are autonomous agents with mechanical, biological, and thermodynamic properties. In addition to the cells, the extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) which is secreted by the cells forming an embedding matrix that serves both as a binding agent for the colony and a shield against external attacks, has also been explicitely taken into account.
Currently, this biofilm model has been extended to study the motilities of bacterial cells in a confined environment. Here, a series of funnel-shaped walls divide the environment into several chambers. It is observed that the motion of the swimming bacteria can be effectively rectified through the openings of these funnels. The study of the funnel ratchet is helpful in broadening our knowledge on separating, transporting and distributing motile microorganisms.
I have been living in the small peaceful town of Ottawa for more than three years. Here I enjoy the climate (which is very similar to my hometown Changchun) and enjoy life with my family.