Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Prof. Janet Sheung

Reader 2

Prof. Adam Landsberg

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Rights Information

2024 Daisy H Achiriloaie


A longstanding question in active matter is how agent-scale properties predict different system-scale behaviors. Contractile microtubule networks are known to show a variety of system-scale behaviors, and my project seeks to characterize their behavior as a percolating system. My experimental data demonstrates an unexpected dependence of cluster size on properties of active agents which is not recapitulated in current models of cytoskeletal systems. Later in this thesis, I recapitulate three other studies I was involved in during my undergrad. One project investigates the transport of particles of DNA in active cytoskeletal networks: the transport properties of active cytoskeletal systems are complex due to several competing factors influencing transport properties including crowding, advection, and active cargo transport via molecular motors. Transport properties also have a complex interplay with dynamics and mechanical properties of the system. I create and optimize a simplified cytoskeleton system to gather data on the transport of different topologies of DNA. The second project is the construction of a hybrid light-sheet microscope/optical trap. I provide background on fluorescence microscopy methods and rationale for using different methods for our specific systems, and present guidelines for building the microscope and the trap, as well as present the pipeline I established for data processing. Finally, I discuss a study I helped perform using optical tweezers microrheology to measure how motor activity in composite actomyosin-microtubule networks leads to changes in its mechanical properties and structure, and conclude with a protocol which I will be using to build our optical trap.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.