Asja completed her PhD in Physics at the University of Pennsylvania, where she worked on understanding the surface pattern formation mechanism of pollen grains using imaging, statistical mechanics, and computational techniques. As pollen grains have one of the most complex surface patterns of any cell, Asja’s work seeks to understand how these patterns form, and what their functional implications could be. She is interested in a diverse array of patterns that exist in nature, from microscopic to macroscopic scales. While Asja is motivated to seek out understanding on the origin and the underlying governance of these natural patterns, she is also driven by the goal of harnessing these patterns for engineering applications.
As a Schmidt Science Fellow, Asja now aims to move into quantitative approaches to describe the growth and changes in the shapes that we see in living organisms. Specifically, she plans to work on quantifying the morphological variety of two-dimensional wing shapes in a family of insects. Bridging the training she has developed in statistical mechanics, computational methods and evolutionary biology through her PhD, with the morphometric tools she will be gaining with the Mahadevan Group at Harvard, Asja intends to develop a comprehensive understanding of wing shape development in insects that has not yet been attempted.