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Sabetta Matsumoto


Richard Smith is a computational scientist that uses computer simulation techniques to investigate
questions in plant development. He is interested in how genes control physical properties of cells
resulting in growth, and how the resulting change in geometry and physical forces feeds back on
signaling and gene regulation. The lab develops the modeling software MorphoDynamX
( which is specialized for the simulation of growing plant tissue and


Many people are familiar with wood as a structural material, widely used in buildings for
centuries. In buildings wood can be used as a structural skeleton, like the bones in our bodies. Less
familiar is the structure of green plant tissue, which behaves as a pressurized cellular solid. Turgor
pressure inside the cell puts the plant cell wall under tension, and like an inflatable air mattress, gives
the plant its shape and structural strength. If you remove the pressure the plant wilts and loses its shape.
Here I will talk about some non-intuitive behavior that occurs in green plant tissue, and the computer
simulation modeling we are doing to examine its nature.

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