Max Wilson’s early interest in Molecular Biology was nurtured by a wonderful set of mentors–Drs. Rachel Mertz, Amy Vollmer, Elizabeth Vallen, and Jonathan Raper, to name just a few– he had at Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania. After graduating from Swarthmore College he received his PhD degree in Molecular Biology at Princeton University in 2015 under the supervision of Drs. Zemer Gitai and Ned Wingreen where he combined theoretical and experimental techniques to understand the role of mesoscale structures in metabolism and cell death. For his post-doctoral studies he stayed at Princeton to work with Dr. Jared Toettcher where he developed cellular optogenetic tools to dissect how information is transmitted from signaling pathways through the central dogma. Max joined the UCSB faculty in the Fall of 2018.
The Wilson Lab combines tools from Biology, Engineering, and Physics to understand the cell’s perceptual field. What can cells perceive? How do they perceive it? How do they make complex decisions? Ultimately we are interested in divining the design principles that enable complex signaling networks to process information. To this end we have become experts in combining light-switchable (optogenetic) molecules to precisely tune inputs to these molecular networks with a variety of fluorescent output reporters in our test-bed model system, human induced pluripotent stem cells.