I am interested in the role of physical principles for living system. Currently, we are working in three major areas: biomechanics, asexual reproduction, and behavior and memory. Our two main model systems are freshwater planarians and hydras. Both organisms are famous for their incredible regenerative capabilities: one can cut them into many pieces and each piece will give rise to an entire new animal!
We use techniques such as micro- and macrorheology, in vivo imaging, and force traction microscopy, and combine them with molecular biology methods to investigate how structure and function influence developmental processes, regeneration, and asexual reproduction (in planarians). Planarian asexual reproduction is itself a major area of interest in my lab as it can be studied from the molecular level to the population level, allowing us to combine stem cell biology with tissue mechanics, statistical physics, evolution and aging. To this end, we developed a unique experimental system in which we track thousands of individual worms over the course of several years to study their reproduction dynamics.
Every time a planarian reproduces asexually by ripping itself apart, the tail piece needs to regenerate a new head and central nervous system. We study nervous system regeneration and maintenance in the context of learning and memory, on the cellular as well as the organism level, and combine in vivo imaging with electrophysiology and automated tracking of planarian behavior.
Eva-Maria Schoetz Collins received her Ph.D. from the Technical University in Dresden, Germany. Right after her Ph.D. she was as a Lewis-Sigler Fellow at Princeton University. She is a 2011 recipient of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award at the Scientific Interface.