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Je-Rui “Ray” Chang

Understanding extremes in biological systems provides novel insights into the fundamental limits of life. To understand cellular gigantism and intracellular adaptations under extreme forces, I chose Spirostomum ambiguum, a giant ultrafast contractile ciliate with peak acceleration of 15g, as the model organism. With transmitted electron microscopy, I recently discovered a novel “gyroid-like” architecture of rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) around vacuolar meshwork, leading to new insights of how organelle topology and mechanics enables survival of extreme physiological conditions experienced during contraction. I will generalize my work to study the fundamental problem of ER shape and mechanism of energy dissipation in giant cells.