Salem Al-Mosleh and L. Mahadevan. Submitted. “How to grow a flat leaf”.Abstract
Growing a flat lamina such as a leaf is almost impossible without some feedback to stabilize long wavelength modes that are easy to trigger since they are energetically cheap. Here we combine the physics of thin elastic plates with feedback control theory to explore how a leaf can remain flat while growing. We investigate both in-plane (metric) and out-of-plane (curvature) growth variation and account for both local and nonlocal feedback laws.  We show that  a linearized feedback theory that accounts for both spatially nonlocal and temporally delayed effects suffices to suppress long wavelength fluctuations effectively and explains recently observed statistical features of growth in tobacco leaves. Our work provides a framework for understanding the regulation of the shape of leaves and other laminar objects. 
M. Serra*, S. al-Mosleh*, S. Ganga Prasath*, V. Raju*, S. Mantena, J. Chandra, S. Iams, and L. Mahadevan. Submitted. “Optimal policies for mitigating pandemic costs”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Several non-pharmaceutical interventions have been proposed to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the large scale, these empirical solutions, often associated with extended and complete lockdowns, attempt to minimize the costs associated with mortality, economic losses and social factors, while being subject to constraints such as finite hospital capacity. Here we pose the question of how to mitigate pandemic costs subject to constraints by adopting the language of optimal control theory. This allows us to determine top-down policies for the nature and dynamics of social contact rates given an age-structured model for the dynamics of the disease. Depending on the relative weights allocated to life and socioeconomic losses, we see that the optimal strategies range from long-term social-distancing only for the most vulnerable, to partial lockdown to ensure not over-running hospitals, to alternating-shifts with significant reduction in life and/or socioeconomic losses. Crucially, commonly used strategies that involve long periods of broad lockdown are almost never optimal, as they are highly unstable to reopening and entail high socioeconomic costs. Using parameter estimates from data available for Germany and the USA, we quantify these policies and use sensitivity analysis in the relevant model parameters and initial conditions to determine the range of robustness of our policies. Finally we also discuss how bottom-up behavioral changes can also change the dynamics of the pandemic and show how this in tandem with top-down control policies can mitigate pandemic costs even more effectively.
Salem Al-Mosleh, Ajay Gopinathan, Christian Santangelo, Kerwyn Casey Huang, and Enrique Rojas. 10/3/2022. “Feedback linking cell envelope stiffness, curvature, and synthesis enables robust rod-shaped bacterial growth.” PNAS, 119, 41, Pp. e2200728119. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Bacterial growth is remarkably robust to environmental fluctuations, yet the mechanisms of growth-rate homeostasis are poorly understood. Here, we combine theory and experiment to infer mechanisms by which Escherichia coli adapts its growth rate in response to changes in osmolarity, a fundamental physicochemical property of the environment. The central tenet of our theoretical model is that cell-envelope expansion is only sensitive to local information such as enzyme concentrations, cell-envelope curvature, and mechanical strain in the envelope. We constrained this model with quantitative measurements of the dynamics of E. coli elongation rate and cell width after hyperosmotic shock. Our analysis demonstrated that adaptive cell-envelope softening is a key process underlying growth-rate homeostasis. Furthermore, our model correctly predicted that softening does not occur above a critical hyperosmotic shock magnitude and precisely recapitulated the elongation-rate dynamics in response to shocks with magnitude larger than this threshold. Finally, we found that to coordinately achieve growth-rate and cell-width homeostasis, cells employ direct feedback between cell-envelope curvature and envelope expansion. In sum, our analysis points to new cellular mechanisms of bacterial growth-rate homeostasis and provides a practical theoretical framework for understanding this process.
Salem Al-Mosleh, Gary P. T. Choi, Arhat Abzhanov, and L. Mahadevan. 2021. “Geometry and dynamics link form, function, and evolution of finch beaks.” PNAS. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Darwin’s finches are a classic example of adaptive radiation, exemplified by their adaptive and functional beak morphologies. To quantify their form, we carry out a morphometric analysis of the three-dimensional beak shapes of all of Darwin’s finches and find that they can be fit by a transverse parabolic shape with a curvature that increases linearly from the base toward the tip of the beak. The morphological variation of beak orientation, aspect ratios, and curvatures allows us to quantify beak function in terms of the elementary theory of machines, consistent with the dietary variations across finches. Finally, to explain the origin of the evolutionary morphometry and the developmental morphogenesis of the finch beak, we propose an experimentally motivated growth law at the cellular level that simplifies to a variant of curvature-driven flow at the tissue level and captures the range of observed beak shapes in terms of a simple morphospace. Altogether, our study illuminates how a minimal combination of geometry and dynamics allows for functional form to develop and evolve.
pdf Finch beak talk
Aditi Chakrabarti*, Salem Al-Mosleh*, and L. Mahadevan. 2021. “Instabilities and patterns in a submerged jelling jet.” Soft Matter. Publisher's VersionAbstract
When a thin stream of aqueous sodium alginate is extruded into a reacting calcium chloride bath, it polymerizes into a soft elastic tube that spontaneously forms helical coils due to the ambient fluid drag. We quantify the onset of this drag-induced instability and its nonlinear evolution using experiments, and explain the results using a combination of scaling, theory and simulations. By co-extruding a second (internal) liquid within the aqueous sodium alginate jet and varying the diameter of the jet and the rates of the co-extrusion of the two liquids, we show that we can tune the local composition of the composite filament and the nature of the ensuing instabilities to create soft filaments of variable relative buoyancy, shape and mechanical properties. Altogether, by harnessing the fundamental varicose (jetting) and sinuous (buckling) instabilities associated with the extrusion of a submerged jelling filament, we show that it is possible to print complex three-dimensional filamentous structures in an ambient fluid.
Salem Al-Mosleh, Ajay Gopinathan, and Christian Santangelo. 2018. “Growth of form in thin elastic structures.” Soft Matter. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Heterogeneous growth plays an important role in the shape and pattern formation of thin elastic structures ranging from the petals of blooming lilies to the cell walls of growing bacteria. Here we address the stability and regulation of such growth, which we modeled as a quasi-static time evolution of a metric, with fast elastic relaxation of the shape. We consider regulation via coupling of the growth law, defined by the time derivative of the target metric, to purely local properties of the shape, such as the local curvature and stress. For cylindrical shells, motivated by rod-like E. coli, we show that coupling to curvature alone is generically linearly unstable to small wavelength fluctuations and that additionally coupling to stress can stabilize these modes. Interestingly, within this framework, the longest wavelength fluctuations can only be stabilized with the mean curvature flow. Our approach can readily be extended to gain insights into the general classes of stable growth laws for different target geometries.
Salem Al-Mosleh and Christian Santangelo. 2017. “Nonlinear mechanics of rigidifying curves.” Phys. Rev. E. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Thin shells are characterized by a high cost of stretching compared to bending. As a result isometries of the midsurface of a shell play a crucial role in their mechanics. In turn, curves on the midsurface with zero normal curvature play a critical role in determining the number and behavior of isometries. In this paper, we show how the presence of these curves results in a decrease in the number of linear isometries. Paradoxically, shells are also known to continuously fold more easily across these rigidifying curves than other curves on the surface. We show how including nonlinearities in the strain can explain these phenomena and demonstrate folding isometries with explicit solutions to the nonlinear isometry equations. In addition to explicit solutions, exact geometric arguments are given to validate and guide our analysis in a coordinate-free way.