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The Ross Lab studies how the microtubule cytoskeleton organizes the interior of living cells. Cells completely remodel their interior structures during cell division and differentiation - both vital processes for organismal development, maturation, and maintenance. The microtubule cytoskeleton has two roles in this process: first the microtubule network itself is a mechanical structure that supports the shape and organization within cells, second microtubules are the tracks used for long-distance intracellular transport by molecular motor proteins that move organelles and protein cargos in the cell.


Correct microtubule organization is essential to many cellular processes: cell division, neuronal cell development, differentiation, and maintenance, plant cell cellulose deposition, and ciliary beating in the lungs, kidneys, and intestines. Failure to create the correct microtubule network in these processes results in cancer and birth defects, brain abnormalities and neuromuscular diseases, fragile plants, tumors and cell death. We use bottom-up reconstitution techniques and cutting-edge super-resolution single molecule imaging to systematically dissect the underlying physical principles governing microtubule organization to address this large number of essential cellular processes.


In addition to its biological importance, the microtubule cytoskeleton, including the binding partners, motor proteins, and enzymatic regulators, is a fascinating non-equilibrium system. We are interested in how microtubules organize into patterns found in the cell, and how they can create novel patterns that may have uses for active biomaterial systems and to purely enhance our understanding of the fundamental non-equilibrium physics controlling energetic biological systems.

Microtubule Biophysics:

Intracellular Organization and Non-Equilibrium Physics

Lab Contact:

Phone: 413-545-3673

Hasbrouck 310/309

666 N. Pleasant St.

Dept. of Physics

UMass Amherst

Amherst, MA 01003


Lab News!


New paper accepted to American Journal of Physics! See citation on the publications page.


Amanda Tan wins Sternheim Award in the UMass Physics Dept! and heading to graduate school.


New paper accepted in Optics Express! See citation on the publications page.


Postdoc, Leslie Conway, named the Byron Prize Award winner from MCB for 2014! Congratulations, Leslie!


New paper reviewing microtubule dynamic instability selected as a HOT article by Integrative Biology!


Ross and Gardel win INSPIRE Award from NSF! See press release from UMass.


Leslie Conway successfully defends her Ph.D. thesis. Congratulations, Dr. Conway!


Megan Bailey successful defends her thesis proposal and passes the prospectus. Congratulations, Megan!!


Jenny’s tenure and promotion to Associate Professor of Physics approved by the Board of Trustees at the University of Massachusetts.


Jenny gives the public lecture for the Aspen Center for Physics.


New paper in Biophysical Journal with Cover Art! Publications


Profile about Ross in Biophysical Society Newsletter, February 2013 web


New paper in PNAS! Publications


Ross wins 2013 Dayhoff Award from Biophysical Society. News


Leslie Conway wins Motility Subgroup poster competition at the Biophysical Society Meeting, March 2013

Photo credit: Jim Gipe, Pivot Media