Amy T. Lam

My work has focused on two themes: interactive biotechnology and molecular motor-based active self-assembly/self-organization.

I have worked on systems involving the unicellular protist, Euglena gracilis, as well as systems of E. coli. I have also worked with the molecular protein motor, kinesin-1, and its associated cytoskeletal filament, the microtubule.

I have experience with building optical setups, fluorescence microscopy (TIRF and epifluorescence), microfluidic device fabrication, cell culturing, and genetic transformation of E. coli.

I am interested in engineering systems of cells or other active components (for example, molecular motors or microrobots) to recreate functions commonly found in natural systems, like filtration, self-assembly, healing, and learning. I like exploring questions about system limits and trade-offs, often as defined by thermodynamics and statistical mechanics.

  1. First-hand, immersive full-body experiences with living cells through interactive museum exhibits. A. T. Lam, J. Ma, C. Barr, S. A. Lee, A. K. White, K. Yu, I. H. Riedel-Kruse, Nature Biotechnology 37(10), 1238-1241 (2019). [doi]
  2. Polygonal motion and adaptable phototaxis via flagellar beat switching in the microswimmer Euglena gracilis. A. Tsang, A. T. Lam, I. H. Riedel-Kruse, Nature Physics 14(12), 1216-1222 (2018). [doi]
  3. Adaptive non-equilibrium molecular-scale systems with reversibly-bound molecular building blocks. A. T. Lam, S. Tsitkov, Y. Zhang, H. Hess, Nano Letters 18(2), 1530-1534 (2018). [doi]
  4. Device and programming abstractions for spatiotemporal control of active micro-particle swarms. A. T. Lam, K. G. Samuel-Gama, J. Griffin, M. Loeun, L. C. Gerber, Z. Hossain, N. J. Cira, S. A. Lee, I. H. Riedel-Kruse, Lab on a Chip 17(8), 1442-1451 (2017). [doi]
    • Listed as a "HOT" article (top 10% score during peer-review)
  5. Cytoskeletal motor-driven active self-assembly in in vitro systems. A. T. Lam, V. VanDelinder, A. M. R. Kabir, H. Hess, G. D. Bachand, A. Kakugo, Soft Matter 12(4), 988-997 (2016). [doi]
  6. Controlling self-assembly of microtubule spools via kinesin motor density. A. T. Lam, C. Curschellas, D. Krovvidi, H. Hess, Soft Matter 10(43), 8731-8736 (2014). [doi]
  7. Modeling negative cooperativity in streptavidin adsorption onto biotinylated microtubules. S. He‡, A. T. Lam‡, Y. Jeune-Smith‡, H. Hess, ‡ indicates equal contribution, Langmuir 28(29), 10635-10639 (2012). [doi]
  8. Nanoscale transport enables active self-assembly of millimeter-scale structures. O. Idan, A. T. Lam, J. Kamcev, J. Gonzales, A. Agarwal, H. Hess, Nano Letters 12(1), 240-245 (2012). [doi]

I have been working as a postdoctoral scholar in the Riedel-Kruse lab at Stanford University for the past 3 years, developing hardware and software platforms for manipulating swarms of unicellular protists. We use these platforms to study programmability of microbial swarms as well as cell behaviors. One of these platforms has even been prototyped as an exhibit at the San Francisco Exploratorium!

For my doctoral studies, I worked in the Laboratory for Nanobiotechnology and Synthetic Biology under the direction of Professor Henry Hess at Columbia University. There, I studied and engineered systems involving the molecular motor kinesin and its associated cytoskeletal filament, the microtubule. In my studies, I use a gliding assay in which kinesin motors are adsorbed to the surface of a glass coverslip and propel microtubules along the surface. Using this system, I explored self-assembly of active systems.