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Christian Anderson

I’m a native Utahn, returning home after a long time in California studying marine ecosystems. I’m a PhD student in Mark Transtrum’s lab, studying model reduction and nonlinear interactions in protein networks. Almost everything interesting that happens inside cells, from aging to cancer to development, involves a complicated self-regulating network of proteins tipping from one state to another. In dynamical systems theory, these are called basins of attraction, and develop when the equations underlying the dynamical system belong to one of a very small group of normal-form bifurcations. Using Dr Transtrum’s manifold analysis method MBAM, it is possible to determine which of dozens of parameters is responsible for such a bifurcation. Once this parameter is identified, changing its value can change the state of the whole system. Since most of these equations destabilize as rate parameters increase, I’m investigating the possibility that aging comes from protein turnover rates outstripping the system’s ability to regulate itself, leading to a bifurcation catastrophe in the math, and aging and cell death in the biology.