Alison E. Patteson

Syracuse University

Alison E. Patteson is an Assistant Professor of Physics at Syracuse University. She received her B.S. in Physics from Kutztown University in 2011 and her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from UPenn in 2016, studying active fluids with Prof. Paulo Arratia. Her postdoctoral research was with Prof. Paul Janmey at UPenn on the vimentin cytoskeleton and confined cell motility. Professor Patteson took a faculty position in 2019 at Syracuse University, where she leads the Focus Group Mechanics of Development and Disease in the BioInspired Institute. Her research focuses on the soft matter physics of cell motility and biofilm development. She is a recipient of the APS Dissertation Award in Statistical and Non-linear Physics (2018) and the NIH Outstanding Investigator Award (2021).


Friday April 21st

Bacteria surface sensing and biofilm development

The ability of bacteria to colonize and grow on different surfaces is an essential process for biofilm development. Here, we report the use of synthetic hydrogels with tunable stiffness and porosity to assess physical effects of the substrate on biofilm development. Using time-lapse microscopy to track the growth of expanding Serratia marcescens colonies, we find that biofilm colony growth can increase with increasing substrate stiffness, unlike what is found on traditional agar substrates. Using traction force microscopy-based techniques, we find that biofilms exert transient stresses correlated over length scales much larger than a single bacterium, and that the magnitude of these forces also increases with increasing substrate stiffness. Our results are consistent with a model of biofilm development in which the interplay between osmotic pressure arising from the biofilm and the poroelastic response of the underlying substrate controls biofilm growth and morphology.