Sam Walcott




Associate 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. 


I am interested in how molecular mechanics affects macro-scale biological function. 


E.g., how do a molecule’s mechanical properties influence the behavior of a cell?  Can we use single molecule measurements to build predictive macro-scale muscle models?


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--2018), PI SW


Intracellular transport:* Molecular motors transport intracellular cargo along the protein filaments that make up the cytoskeleton.  Single motors moving along a single protein filament have been well-studied, but less is known about realistic conditions, where multiple motors work together to move a cargo through a three dimensional meshwork of filaments.  I create simple physical molecular-level models to understand how motor teams work together to transport their cargo in a cell.


*Work supported by NIH No. R01 GM094229-05A1 (2017-2021), PI D. Warshaw, subcontract to SW


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.


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.




MAT207A, Fall 2017

MAT17C, Spring 2018

MAT/BIS27A, Winter 2019

MAT207C, Spring 2019

Math 17 Project (Discussion Worksheets)


Education and Employment


Full CV


Associate Prof. UC Davis (Mathematics) 2015-

Assistant Prof. UC Davis (Mathematics) 2011-2015.

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.