Research Assistant Professor
333 Regents Hall
Telephone: (202) 687-6004
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.
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
- The U.S. maternity care crisis and solutions
- Ethical problems in obstetrics
- Circumcision and HIV
- Bioethics of Child Circumcision
I do not teach regular classes, but instead provide workshops an lectures on specific topics.
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.
- UnBreaking Birth
- Ethical Problems in Obstetrics
- Circumcision: An Elephant in the Hospital
- Circumcision: A Global Health Ethics Double Standard
- Living Together: a Path Toward Urban Sustainability
- Effective Social Change
- A novel 3D fibril force assay implicates src in tumor cell force generation in collagen networks, Polackwich, RJ, Koch D., Arevalo R., AM Miermont, J Lazar, Jee KJ, Urbach J. S., Mueller S. C., and McAllister R. G. PLoS One, Volume 8, p.e58138, (2013)
- Male Circumcision and HIV Prevention: Insufficient Evidence and Neglected External Validity, Green, L. W., Travis J. W., McAllister R. G., Peterson K. W., Vardanyan A. N., and Craig A. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 39, Number 5, p.479-482, (2010)
- Design and optimization of a high-speed, high-sensitivity, spinning disk confocal microscopy system, McAllister, R. G., Sisan D. R., and Urbach J. S. Journal of Biomedical Optics, Sep-Oct, Volume 13, Issue 5, (2008)
- A new chemotaxis assay shows the extreme sensitivity of axons to molecular gradients, Rosoff, W. J., Urbach J. S., Esrick M. A., McAllister R. G., Richards L. J., and Goodhill G. J. , Nature Neuroscience, Jun, Volume 7, Issue 6, p.678-682, (2004)
Ryan has joint appointments in the Oncology Department, Lombardi Cancer Center, and the Physics Department, Main Campus.