Ryan McAllister

Ryan McAllister

Research Assistant Professor

333 Regents Hall
Telephone: (202) 687-6004
E-mail: rgm23@georgetown.edu
Website: http://site.physics.georgetown.edu/~urbach/CellBiophysics.htm

Initially trained as a physicist in experimental nonlinear dynamics, Ryan has been increasingly drawn to highly interdisciplinary fields and is particularly interested in areas with social relevance.

While he currently maintains effort in a number of innovative biologically-motivated research projects, his deepest interests are in family health, relationships, social justice, and nonviolence.

In 2003, he co-founded NotJustSkin, an all-volunteer nonprofit with the goal of integrating ethical, structural, and scientific analyses of the U.S. maternity care system with local offerings of person-centric counseling, support, and diversity services. In 2008, he co-founded Maitri House, an intentional community with an innovative co-ownership structure. He has facilitated over 200 workshops and support group meetings on communication, relationship skills, and conflict resolution including across differences in race, gender, culture, and sexuality. He is also a parent of a child with what physicians call “profound developmental differences.”

Education and earlier work
Ryan received his PhD in Physics (Experimental Nonlinear Dynamics) at the University of Maryland. The scientific term chaos comes from the field of nonlinear dynamics. He worked with Rajarshi Roy studying chaotic laser dynamics, particularly focusing on understanding the variety of dynamics an electronically driven laser system could produce and ability of lasers to respond and synchronize to signals. He also worked with Daniel Lathrop and Benjamin Zeff, studying energy dissipation at microscopic scales in turbulent fluid flow.

One paper, written with Atsushi Uchida and Rajarshi Roy, received the Laser Society of Japan’s “Year’s Most Promising Science Technology Research Paper.”

After completing a PhD in 2003, Ryan moved to Georgetown University to collaborate with Jeff Urbach on creating a biological dynamics imaging laboratory in the Physics Department. He also helped develop collaborations with several laboratories in the biological sciences to provide interesting challenges for the dynamics imaging laboratory. This research has ranged across topics including malaria, Giardia, axon growth, biomaterials, imaging technique development, and cancer.

In 2007, Ryan received an NIH K25 award to study invadopodia and cancer cell dynamics during invasion.

Current Research

Biophysics and Biologically-Motivated Physics

  • Use of a confocal microscope-rheometer (developed in Daniel Blair’s lab) to study the biomechanical response of tumor cells to nonlinear stiffness of the 3D extracellular matrix
  • Force generation in cancer cell motility and neurite growth cones
  • Determining the attachment mechanism of Giardia lamblia parasites

Public Health and Medical Ethics

Current Teaching

I do not teach regular classes, but instead provide workshops an lectures on specific topics.

Workshops include:
Constructive Listening, Difficult Conversations in Relationships, Toward Constructively Addressing Bias, From Power Struggle to Cooperation with Children, Being Present with Strong Feelings, Playlistening, Listening Partnerships, Setting Limits Compassionately, and Communicating Boundaries around Physical Touch.

Lectures include:

Selected Publications

Other Information

Ryan has joint appointments in the Oncology Department, Lombardi Cancer Center, and the Physics Department, Main Campus.