Using Math and Stats to Untangle DNA
Dr. Chris Soteros’ research with the Department of Mathematics and Statistics focusses on models of polymers. She is developing mathematical and computational tools for studying how a polymer becomes entangled or disentangled, as well as how it undergoes other conformational or “phase” changes. One important application of this work is towards understanding enzyme action on DNA. Certain enzymes disentangle DNA in the cell to allow vital cellular processes such as replication to proceed, however, exactly how and where the enzymes act remains an open problem. Viewing DNA simply as a large molecule made of repeated molecular units (i.e. as a polymer), polymer models can be used to better understand this enzyme action.
Dr. Soteros is also one of the team leaders of the newly formed PIMS Collaborative Research Group (CRG) in Applied Combinatorics. This CRG ties together researchers from across Western Canada who address problems at the interface of discrete mathematics and the physical sciences.