First Graduate Student to Apply to Yale’s Integrated Graduate Program in Physical and Engineering Biology Defends His Thesis!

The very first graduate student to apply to Yale’s Integrated Graduate Program in Physical and Engineering Biology (PEB) defended his thesis on Wednesday, Dec. 17th. PEB brings together students and faculty from the biological, physical, and engineering sciences to engage in a breadth of research using methodology and approaches from physics and engineering to address important biological problems. Matt Akamatsu, a graduate student in the Pollard lab, used quantitative fluorescence microscopy, super resolution imaging, and mathematical modeling to study cell division using yeast as a model organism. Understanding cell division is important, in part because problems during the process are associated with cancer. His work so far has led to three publications, with two more in preparation – an impressive achievement!


Matt is a true poster-child for PEB. Entering the program through Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry in 2009, Matt built ties across disciplines, engaged in collaborative research, and combined experimental bench work with theory to study a biological problem. Working with fellow PEB student, Yu Lin (Dept. of Biomedical Engineering), in the Bewersdorf lab, he is using super resolution fluorescence microscopy to more clearly image and track individual molecules in live cells.


At Matt’s defense, PEB program director Prof. Lynne Regan said, “I could not have asked for a better ‘student zero’ than Matt.”


Matt Akamatsu with the founding faculty members of PEB.
Left to right: Simon Mochrie (Physics), Corey O’Hern (Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science), Matt Akamatsu (Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry), Lynne Regan (Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry), and Tom Pollard (Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology)