The biochemical and biophysical properties of cellular microenvironment send instructive signals to cells to control a variety of processes such as proliferation, migration, differentiation and apoptosis. Our lab aims for a molecular level understanding of these regulatory mechanisms using designed artificial matrices as a tool. In collaboration with experts from the field of chemistry and materials science, the matrices will be built on a modular, self-assembled materials platform to take advantage of the controllable nanostructure and mechanical properties these materials afford. In addition, such materials have the ability to present or release of bioactive molecules and incorporate dynamic properties such as stimuli-triggered spatio-temporal modulation in the material properties and bioactivity. We will focus on understanding how material properties such as stiffness, topography, alignment and surface charge affect the events at the cell-material interface (e.g. receptor mobility and clustering, cytoskeletal organization) and how these surface interactions lead to activation of signaling cascades and modulation of gene expression. We will also investigate the significance of temporal presentation of extracellular cues on cell development. Our long-term goal is to improve stem cell-based regenerative strategies where rationally designed materials could be used to drive transplanted cells into preferred cell lineage and function.