Dr. Jay Newby

Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of Mathematics

UNC, Chapel Hill


My research is primarily focused on developing mechanistic stochastic models of molecular motion, biomechanics, and chemistry in micron-scale environments such as cells and extracellular polymer matrices. Cells function through a highly complex set of interconnected chemical and mechanical processes, and on the micron scale, thermal fluctuations cause random molecular motion and impose random mechanical fluctuations on biopolymers. Hence, cellular processes are intrinsically complex, nonlinear, and stochastic. Mechanistic stochastic models are quickly becoming essential for understanding the micron-scale machinery of living organisms. One example from my work is the kinetic coupling between stochastic molecular motors and microtubules to boost and guide otherwise slow and random diffusive transport of cargo across the cell. Similar kinetic and diffusive processes are at play in extracellular mechanisms, e.g., antibody-based viral immunity. The utility of any mathematical model is deeply dependent on experimental validation of model predictions. More recently, my research interests have evolved to address a major outstanding problem for stochastic modelers: access to sufficient experimental data for systematic statistical inference. Most labs are capable of efficiently acquiring terabytes of microscopy videos that image the motion of submicron molecular species. Currently, there is a prohibitively expensive and slow bottleneck in processing videos into time-series particle paths. Despite our excellent understanding of the optical physics of imaging of florescent particles, particle tracking still requires mundane human-assisted identification of particles. To address this challenge I have developed fully automated imaging methods using artificial neural networks, which are trained for pattern recognition tasks with machine learning.

Selected Publications

JN, JL Schiller, T Wessler, J Edelstein, MG Forest, and SK Lai. A blueprint for robust crosslinking of mobile species in biogels with weakly adhesive molecular anchors. Nature Communications., 2017.


JN and Jun Allard. First-passage time to clear the way for receptor-ligand binding in a crowded environment. Phys. Rev. Lett. (in press), 2016.


JN and M Schwemmer. Effects of moderate noise on a limit cycle oscillator: Counterrotation and bistability. Phys. Rev. Lett., 2014.

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JN, P Bressloff, and J Keener. The role of stochastic potassium channels in spontaneous action potential initiation. Phys. Rev. Lett., 2013.

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