Mayank Chugh, PhD Student

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Mayank Chugh, PhD Student

Hometown: New Delhi, India

Affiliation: Cellular Nanoscience, Center for Plant Molecular Biology (ZMBP), University of Tübingen; International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) From Molecules to Organisms, Tübingen

What are you working on?

I am investigating the role of a molecular motor in positioning the cell division plane in plants. Pattern formation in plants is as innate as it is to other organisms and elements of nature. The regular patterning of plant cells relies on the accurate alignment of the division plane, each time a cell is undergoing division. We know a certain type of molecular motor known as Kinesin is involved in the alignment process. My PhD journey is to understand the behaviour of this molecular motor and unravelling the mechanism it employs in the correct positioning of the cell division plane.

How are you going to find out?

I am following two approaches. The first approach is based on biophysical methods. It involves the production (expression) of the molecular motors and imaging them individually under specialised sensitive microscopes such as optical tweezers, total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy, outside the cells in a simple set up and in similar ionic conditions to the cells. The kind of information that one can get is truly incredible, such as, the force generated by single motor protein and modus operandi of the motor. The other approach characterizes the behaviour of the Kinesin ensemble inside the plants cells using microscopy and genetics as primary tools. I believe, together, these approaches will help me in providing a coherent answer to my problem.

Your favorite thing outside of science?

I grew up in a highly social and culturally vibrant environment. Perhaps that is the reason I cannot do only science. I get my sanity from the following things. Photography, music, travelling, adventure sports, painting, reading, writing, baking, and partying.

I recently put up a website. If you like, you can check some of my amateurish photography work at the following link. Feedback is warmly welcomed.

Your favorite spot in Tübingen is...

Definitely the old town (Altstadt). It is full of stunning places – Church stairs, Neckar wall, Neckar island, Castle walls to name a few.

Photo credits: Theresa Lauster, Kris Hill

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