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Hyun Youk

Assistant Professor &
CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar   

  cv (.pdf)   


I'm an assistant professor of physics and quantitative biology at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). I'm also the Principal Investigator (PI) of our lab, which is part of the Bionanoscience Department and the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at TU Delft in the Netherlands. My position and our lab began in January 2015. As a nascent PI, I'm experiencing a new country, new university, new department, and new responsibilites. Among my responsibilities, one that particularly excites me is mentoring young students as they embark on their research careers. Together with the members of our lab, I am interested in a number of broad questions about life. The question that particularly excites me is what quantitative principles set living systems apart from non-living systems. As a means to address this question, our lab seeks core mathematical/physical principles that govern dynamics of biological many-body systems, such as cell-signalling circuits and multicellular systems. Just as the central dogma of molecular biology ties together the fantastically wide range of organisms, I believe that there may be a core set of quantitative principles that unify seemingly disparate living systems and their behaviours. Such principles may yield deep insights into what it actually means for a network of molecules be "living", and thus address the aforementioned question. As a physicist, I believe that we should ultimately be able to discover and use mathematical rules and principles to explain any behaviour of any living system. Why shouldn't we be able to do so? After all, we have succeeded in comprehending so many non-living systems such as galaxies and solid-state systems. Yet physicists' progress in quantitatively understanding living systems has lagged centuries behind their progress in comprehending non-living systems. A deep conceptual roadblock is that many different types of interactions occur inside living cells. This is unlike solid-state systems such as magnets and metals which contain many interactions but of just a few types. Our lab and I are tackling these conceptual challenges by performing experiments and building models and new theoretical frameworks.

 "Three questions" - EUSynBioS, May 2018  

 Self introduction in Kavli-Delft Newsletter, October 2014 (Pg. 9)