To defend against diverse, evolving, and devious parasitic invaders, host immunity must be agile (fast, flexible, and dynamically updated) and robust (able to overcome internal failures). I study the design principles of immune systems that are responsible for agility and robustness, and how these design principles evolve. Relevant insights can be gathered from a wide variety of scientific subfields and techniques. Currently, I am developing an analogy between insect swarms engaged in collective decision-making and mammalian T-helper cells engaged in directing immune effector choice. Combining dynamical systems modeling and laboratory immunology experiments, I am investigating how cytokine expression variability among individual T-helper cells impacts the agility and robustness of the organism-level immune output. Could random variability among immune cells actually improve overall immune capability? Discerning such non-intuitive features of biological immune systems could inspire new designs for man-made systems that also combat coevolving adversaries, such as cybersecurity and national defense.
Evolution of immune signaling network architecture: https://academic.oup.com/mbe/advance-article/doi/10.1093/molbev/msx321/4760962?guestAccessKey=e09c3383-096d-417e-b996-f307b3a8ad28
Evolutionary perspective on variability among mammalian T-helper cells: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959437X17300060