Living systems are capable of remarkable mecahnical tasks, whether it is a neuron precisely crawling across a growing brain or a striker scoring a sensational goal at a soccer match. Traditional approaches to mechanics struggle to describe the complex mechanical behavior of living systems because of a tight integration between the non-equilibrium, active, energy-consuming, and entropy-generating "hardware" and the sensing, controlling, information-processing, and decision-making "software" present at cellular and organismal scales. This integration is difficult to study in living systems because of numerous concurrent processes that hinder isolation of minimal mechanisms.
Our lab studies physical model systems which mimic living systems. This approach is similar to that of aerospace engineers, who study the performance of model airplanes when designing new aircraft. Our goal is to uncover the mechanical design principles of living systems by building up the complexity of our physical model systems. By studying model systems, we not only better understand the mechanics that govern living systems, but also develop novel engineering applications inspired by nature.
Find out more about our research projects here.
Interested in research at the intersection of biology and mechanics? We encourage you to get in touch and see if projects are available! Please email Dr. Alvarado a copy of your résumé and a brief intro with your research interests to find out more.
Graduate Students: If you are an incoming or established graduate student at UT Austin, email Dr. Alvarado. If you are interested in joining UT Austin as a graduate student, you will need to apply to the Graduate Program. Our lab is based in the Physics Department, and applicants will need to demonstrate completion of intermediate and advanced physics undergraduate courses. See this page for more information about applying to the Physics Graduate Program. We may also be able to accommodate graduate students from other departments— please email Dr. Alvarado to discuss details.
Undergraduate Students: We regularly post undergraduate research project openings on the UT Eureka Database. However, if you don't find a project on there, you may still email Dr. Alvarado to find out if there are projects on the horizon. We welcome undergraduate students from a very wide range of disciplines. Typically, most undergraduate students work either for credit (10 hours a week) or on a voluntary basis (flexible schedule). Sometimes, paid summer positions (20 hours a week) may be available.
ALAB at the inaugural ALAB retreat in Point Venture, TX.
ALAB at the Flamingo Casino in Las Vegas for APS March Meeting 2023.
ALAB at Glow Bowl, Texas Union Underground, 2022.
ALAB at Millenium Park in Chicago for APS March Meeting 2022.
ALAB's socially-distanced winter picnic at Austin's Pease Park, 2021.
We maintain a donation account. All funds benefit group activities, such as our annual ALAB retreat, which offer a combination of professional development and team building. It's hard for us to fund these activities on federal grants. Our goal is to offer these activities at little or no cost to lab members. Thus, any donation is warmly welcomed. If you do decide to donate, please email José (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your postal address. You will receive a small thank-you gift from all of us.
How to donate: Please visit our College of Natural Science's Dean's Impact Fund (https://give.utexas.edu/?menu=OGPDIF). In the "Gift Comments" field, include the following text to have your gift routed to our donation account: "Department of Physics, Alvarado Lab, H2A/023H2A OGPNSPY".
All donations are tax-deductible with the IRS. You will receive an email afterward from the university with a tax receipt.