Group Members

Group Leader


Karen Alim studied physics in Karlsruhe, Manchester and Munich. She obtained an MSc in Theoretical Physics in 2004 working with Alan J. Bray from Manchester University, U.K., followed by a Diplom (MSc) in Physics and Biophysics at the LMU Munich. During her PhD with Erwin Frey at the LMU in Munich she investigated the form of biological materials like DNA/actin and patterning mechanism during leaf development. As a grad fellow at the KITP in Santa Barbara, United States, she investigated the mechanics of plant growth. After her doctoral degree in 2010 she joined Michael P. Brenner’s group at Harvard University where she focused on the adaptation dynamics of the network-like forager Physarum polycephalum. In 2015 she started as an independent group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization. Karen is recipient of the John Birks Award of Manchester University and held an appointment as lecturer in Applied Mathematics at Harvard University.


nandrewNatalie Andrew studied Physics and Cognitive Science at the University of Birmingham, UK. She completed her PhD studying cell motility and pseudopod formation patterns in the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum in 2006. In 2007 she moved to Harvard Medical School’s Systems Biology department to investigate calcium signalling dynamics in mammalian cells using microfluidics. In 2013 she joined the department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and began research on fluid flow dynamics and foraging behaviour in the true slime mold Physarum polycephalum. She joined the group in February 2016.


jdjulienJean-Daniel Julien received his Master’s degree in physics at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon (ENS Lyon, France) in 2012. As a PhD student, he worked on the mechanics and growth of plants morphogenesis, using computational approaches, in the Physics laboratory and the Plants Reproduction and Development laboratory of the ENS Lyon. In 2015 he was a graduate fellow in the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (Santa Barbara, United-States). His domains of interest are continuum mechanics, non-linear physics, statistical mechanics, and scientific programming. He joined the group in January 2016.


PhD Students

fbaeuerleFelix Bäuerle received his Bachelor degree at Ulm University in Physics in 2012. After taking a yearlong detour into industry to work on design of automated test benches he was drawn into biophysical studies upon return for his Master degree in Ulm. His master thesis prepared both at the Institute of Experimental Physics in Ulm, Germany, and at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, focused on imaging enzyme kinetics in living cells and integration of cell traction force microscopy into micro fabricated organs-on-a-chip under the supervision of Prof. Kay-Eberhard Gottschalk and Prof. Gideon Schreiber. Now his research interest in the department of Biological Physics and Morphogenesis at the MPIDS is driven by the cunning self-organizing abilities of Physarum polycephalum.


jkhadkaJason Khadka obtained a BSc Physics degree from the Jacobs University Bremen, Germany and Masters of Physics degree in Complex Systems from the Institute of Cross-Disciplinary Physics and Complex Systems at Universitat de les Illes Balears, Mallorca, Spain. He worked at the Center for Free Electron Lasers with Dr. Oriol Vendrell on suppression of decoherence in two-level systems for his Bachelor’s Thesis. For his Master’s thesis, he worked on the dynamics of vascular branching morphogenesis with Prof. Tomas Sintes and Prof. Manuel Matias. He also worked on the analysis of data from Kennedy-Thorndike Experiments during a summer internship at the Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity. In 2015, he joined Dr. Karen Alim’s group at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization as a PhD student working on plant development.


Mirna Kramar studied Chemistry at the University of Zagreb, Croatia. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in 2013, she moved to Dresden to pursue her studies in Biophysics at the TU Dresden. During her studies, Mirna participated in several research projects dealing with computer simulations at the TU Dresden, Forschungszentrum Juelich and Max Planck Institite for Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden. She did her Master thesis in the lab of Stephan Grill at the Max Planck Institute for Cell Biology and the Biotechnology Center in Dresden and received her Master’s degree in 2015. In her Master thesis project, she investigated a mechanism of robust body axis establishment in C. elegans. Intrigued by the questions of morphogenesis, she joined our group in April 2016 to study Physarum polycephalum.


Bachelor Students

Felix Meigel is an undergraduate studying physics at the University of Göttingen.  During his studies he completed an internship at the department for Network Dynamics at MPIDS analyzing complex call structures of pilot whales using signal processing and statistical approaches. Currently he writes his Bbachelor thesis in the MPRG of Biological Physics and Morphogenesis at the MPIDS. In his thesis he focuses upon the topology of transportation networks providing homogeneous absorption.