Thierry’s Bio

Thierry Emonet is a Paul Allen Investigator and an Associate Professor of Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology & Physics at Yale University. He 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. During this time he discovered key mechanisms that enable magnetic field to float to the surface of the Sun to create Sunspots. Switching to biology he studied the molecular origin of temporal fluctuations in the swimming behavior of individual bacteria. This work helped reveal that in single cells behavioral response and spontaneous fluctuation in behavior are often not independent because of fundamental relationships between fluctuation and response in chemical systems. At Yale since 2007 his laboratory combines molecular and biophysical experimental methods with theory and simulations to study how biological systems sense, compute and self-organize to make decisions. Using the chemotaxis system in bacteria, the olfactory system in Drosophila, and the developing tailbud in zebrafish recent work from his lab focuses on quantifying the trade-offs faced by individuals in fluctuating environments and the functional role of non-genetic variation and communication among clones in resolving these trade-offs and shaping overall population success. His work is supported by NIGMS and the Paul G Allen Family Foundation and he has received fellowships from NSF, the Whitehall Foundation, the James S. McDonnell Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.