Thierry’s Bio

Thierry Emonet is an Associate Professor of Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology & Physics at Yale University. Thierry studied physics at the ETH Zürich, and received his PhD in theoretical astrophysics from the University of La Laguna (Spain) in 1998, before doing postdocs at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder CO and The University of Chicago, discovering key mechanisms that enable magnetic field to float to the surface of the Sun to create Sunspots.

In 2002 Thierry switched to biology and became fascinated with understanding how biological systems compute. Living systems exhibit fluctuations at all scales from individual molecules to population dynamics. Understanding how biological system compute in the presence of fluctuations is a challenge that stands in the way of accurate predictions in biology. By studying how bacteria, eukaryotes and insects navigate their environment Thierry’s work has shed new light on the molecular basis of individuality and has shown how diversity can be beneficial to populations.

Currently, he is examining the conflicts and synergies between diversity and collective behavior to understand how individuality is repressed—or exploited—to maximize the effectiveness of collective behavior. The goal is to discover how diversity and coordination together modulate the emerging function and performance of a group. The Emonet lab addresses these question by combining mathematical modeling with biophysical experiments.

Thierry’s work has broad applications in predicting how bacterial communities function, how eukaryotic cells organize into tissues, and how cells and insects navigate their chemical environments. His work is supported by National Institute of Health, the Paul G Allen Family Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Whitehall Foundation, the James S. McDonnell Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.