How is a cell’s response to force and chemical stimuli determined? How is the control of cell migration and cell shape altered in cancer cells? What are the molecular components of the cytoskeleton responsible for maintaining cell shape? How do the physical properties of the growth environment influence cellular development? This research thrust focuses on understanding how contractile force is coordinated at a subcellular level to power cell migration, how these forces, which underlie cellular machinery, may be altered in disease. A wide variety of techniques are used in this research thrust ranging from holographic optical tweezers and speckle microscopy to computational modeling.