Areas of Research: Theoretical biophysics, quantitative immunology
Dr. Mayer is broadly interested in the statistical physics of biological function. Physical principles set a limit to how well a biological function can be performed. Considering such limitations provides a framework to develop quantitative theories of biological organization. Considering the self-organized implementation of strategies coming close to these limits extends these theories to biological dynamics. In particular, we have applied this approach to immune defense. Can we understand immune defense by considering that organisms optimally acquire and exploit information about their pathogenic environment? We have shown that this view of immunity can help make sense of the evolution of diverse immune strategies in different organisms as well as provide predictions about the composition and dynamics of immune repertoires in adaptive immunity. To address these and similar questions we use ideas and tools from statistical physics, nonlinear dynamics, and information theory.