Sam Walcott




Assistant Professor


University of California, Davis

One Shields Ave.

Davis, California



swalcott *at* math _dot_ ucdavis “dot” edu



Photo taken by Malcolm Brown




Mathematical and physical biology. 


My focus is on a quantitative and physically based understanding of biological systems.


How do a molecule’s mechanical properties influence the behavior of a cell?  Can we use single molecule measurements to build predictive and relevant macro-scale theoretical models?


“Inasmuch … as biological phenomena are very closely related to physical phenomena, we shall … whenever possible,

look for physical interpretations, in line with the desire to unify all natural sciences”

                                                                                                                                                                                               -- Nicolas Rashevsky, 1938


Ongoing Projects:


Muscle Mechanics:* Muscle is a complex biological system that we know a lot about.  Having done single molecule experiments, I wish to relate these molecular measurements to whole muscle physiology.  I create simple physical molecular-level models to generate cellular-level (and hopefully larger-scale) predictive equations.


*Work supported by Hellman Fellowship (2013) and NSF No. DMS-1413185 (2014--2017)


Cell Mechanosensation: Cells sense their chemical and mechanical environment.  The fate of stem cells, for example, depends on the stiffness of the surface to which they adhere.  I use physical molecular models to explain how a cell senses the mechanical properties of its surroundings.


Miscellaneous: Friction mechanics, throwing biomechanics, …


Publications and Publicity


Summary, from Science, of a talk I gave on throwing mechanics (this site may be blocked if you do not have a subscription)


Eleven postdoctoral journal entries published in Nature throughout 2009.


Ph.D. Thesis Understanding movement: a molecular approach. Sam Walcott, Cornell University, 2006. (Available upon request).


Complete publication list, with pre-prints and links.


Education and Employment


Full CV


Assistant Prof. UC Davis (Mathematics) 2011 –

Postdoc Johns Hopkins University (Mechanical Engineering, PSOC, Sean Sun supervisor) 2008-2011.

Postdoc University of Vermont (Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, David Warshaw supervisor) 2006-2008.

Ph. D. Cornell University (Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, Andy Ruina advisor) 2006.

B.A.  Cornell University (General Biology) 2001.