Matthew Paszek

Matthew J. Paszek

Associate Professor
Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
358 Olin Hall
Director of Postdoctoral Studies


Matthew began his scientific career as an undergraduate in the School of Chemical Engineering at Cornell University. Upon receiving his B.S. from Cornell, Matthew went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania under the mentorship of Professors Daniel Hammer and Valerie Weaver. There he conducted experimental and theoretical work that identified increased tissue stiffness and enhanced tumor cell contractility as key driving forces of cancer progression. Matthew then moved to the University of California, San Francisco under the mentorship of Valerie Weaver, where he began his work in glycobiology and developed Scanning Angle Interference Microscopy, a powerful tool for imaging live cells at the nanoscale. In 2013, Matthew returned to Cornell University as a Kavli Fellow under the mentorship of Professor's Abraham Stroock and Claudia Fischbach, and worked on the development of high speed, custom optoelectronics for nanoscale cellular imaging. In the Spring of 2014, Matthew joined the Cornell faculty as an Assistant Professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. His current researches focuses on how chemistry and mechanics are coupled in living systems.

Research Interests

The hardware for intracellular signal transduction consists of thousands of membrane receptors and signaling molecules carefully arranged throughout the cell. Notably, the cell expends the majority of its energy maintaining its biomolecules in spatial arrangements outside of thermodynamic equilibrium. The Paszek group investigates how signaling patterns emerge from these spatial arrangements and what role mechanical forces and biophysical interactions play in organizing biomolecules at molecular length scales. In essence, we seek to understand how life works at tiny, nanometer length scales.

An active area of research by our group is in the biological frontier of glycobiology. Every living cell in the body is coated with a sugary film called the glycocalyx. We are currently investigating how these sugars spatially configure the machinery of signal transduction. In cancer, we've discovered that these sugars are anything but sweet, and play a major role in the development of aggressive, lethal cancers. Our hope is to understand how these sugars modify signaling in disease specific contexts, such as cancer, and what role metabolism plays in organizing signaling molecules through regulation of these sugars. Our methodology is highly interdisciplinary, and includes approaches from computational biology, molecular biology, cell biology, super-resolution optical imaging, and glycobiology.

Teaching Interests

ChemE 3720 - Introduction to Process Dynamics and Control

Selected Publications

  • Paszek, Matthew.  2014. "The cancer glycocalyx mechanically primes intergrin-mediated growth and survival."  Nature.
  • Stehbens, S. J., Matthew Paszek, H. Pemble, A. Ettinger, S. Gierke, T. Wittmann.  "CLASPs link focal-adhesion-associated microtubule capture to localized exocytosis and adhesion site turnover."  Nature Cell Biology 16: 561-73.
  • Paszek, Matthew, C. Dufort, M. G. Rubashkin, M. W. Davidson, K. S. Thorn, J. T. Liphardt, V. M. Weaver.  2012. "Scanning angle interefernce microscopy reveals cell dynamics at the nano-scale."  Nature methods 9: 825-7.
  • Paszek, Matthew, D. Boettinger, V. M. Weaver, D. A. Hammer.  2009. "Integrin clustering is driven by mechanical resistance from the glycolax and substrate."  PLoS Computational Biology 5 (e1000604).
  • Colville, M., V. Gupta, A. Singh, W. Zipfel, Matthew Paszek.  2015. "Adhesion dynamics on soft substrates."  In preparation for submission.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • NIH New Innovator (National Institutes of Health (NIH)) 2015
  • Kavli Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in Nanoscience (Cornell University) 2012
  • Sandler Foundation/ UCSF Program for Biomedical Breakthrough Postdoctoral Fellowship (University of California, San Francisco)2012
  • Leadership Graduate Research Fellowship (University of Pennsylvania) 2002
  • BMES Postdoctoral Fellow Award (Conference on Cellular and Molecular Engineering) 2013


  • B.S. (Chemical Engineering), Cornell University, 2002
  • Ph.D. (Bioengineering), University of Pennsylvania, 2009
  • Postdoctoral Associate, University of California, 2012
  • Kavli Fellow Postdoctoral Associate, Cornell University, 2013

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