Dr Dietmar Oelz

Senior Lecturer

School of Mathematics and Physics
Faculty of Science
d.oelz@uq.edu.au
+61 7 336 53262

Overview

I studied Technical Mathematics at the Vienna University of Technology. I also earned a Master's degree in Law and I finished the first ("non-clinical") part of Medical Studies at the University of Vienna. I earned my PhD in Applied Mathematics at the University of Vienna in 2007. My PhD advisor was Christian Schmeiser, my co-advisor was Peter Markowich. I spent several months at the University of Buenos Aires working with C. Lederman and at the ENS-Paris rue d'Ulm in the group of B. Perthame.

Before coming to UQ, I held post-doc positions at the Wolfgang Pauli Insitute (Vienna), University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Sciences (RICAM). In 2013 I won an Erwin Schrödinger Fellowship of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). I was a post-doc researcher in the group of Alex Mogilner first at UC Davis, then at the Courant Institute of Math. Sciences (New York University).

Research Interests

  • Mathematical and Computational Biology
    Cell Biology, Collective Behaviour, Multi-scale Modelling, mechanobiology of cells and tissues, cell movement, intra-cellular transport, cytoskeleton dynamics, actomyosin contractility
  • Applied Mathematics
    perturbation methods, multi-scale modelling, numerical schemes, stochastic modelling
  • Scientific computing
    Brownian dynamics simulations, numerics of PDEs,
  • Partial Differential Equations
    Biomathematics

Research Impacts

Biological systems integrate a multitude of processes on various spatial and temporal scales. The output of biological processes is typically robust to a range of random perturbations. Mathematics is an outstanding tool to investigate such cooperative mechanisms on the molecular level which can hardly be assessed experimentally.

Building on a sound applied mathematics and partial differential equations (PDE) background, the area of my research is to identify and describe biological processes by formulating mathematical models, to evaluate them using numerical simulation and mathematical analysis and to validate such models against experimental data.

A ubiquitous example for a highly complex biological system are cells. They use cytoskeletons composed of long fibers on the micron length scale to sustain their shape mechanically. Molecular processes on the nanoscale which change the structure of these fibers as well as force generation by motor proteins promote remodeling of cell shape, cell migration and intracellular transport. This is the basis for vital processes such as muscle contraction, cell division, immune system response, wound healing and embryogenesis, and it plays a crucial role in pathological processes such as tumor metastasis and neurodegenerative deseases.

The central question of my research is: how do proteins on the nanoscale and larger protein complexes on the micronscale cooperate in living cells to promote cell movement, shape changes, force generation and intra- cellular transport? This type of research contributes to the development of new techniques in bioengineering and of new therapeutic approaches in clinical fields such as oncology and immunology.

One important aspect of biological mechanisms is insensitivity to random perturbations. Hence mathe- matical models on the microscopic level are necessarily stochastic and I employ mathematical analysis and numerical simulation such as Brownian Dynamics to analyze the sensitivity of models and to identify robust characteristics of a systems output. Especially the smallness of the molecular length scales interferes with experimental imaging techniques to assess these biological processes in vivo. For this reason an essential aspect of my research is to use asymptotic analysis to derive and justify macroscopic coarse-grained models based on thoroughly formulated microscopic models. In general this process yields partial differential equations such as reaction-drift-diffusion models and fluid dynamics models. I analyze these models, which often exhibit amazingly rich mathematical properties, analytically and by numerical simulation in order to relate the experimentally measurable macroscopic features to the microscopic dynamics of interest.

Qualifications

  • PhD inMathenatics, University of Vienna

Publications

  • Rahman, Nizhum and Oelz, Dietmar B. (2023). A mathematical model for axonal transport of large cargo vesicles. Journal of Mathematical Biology, 88 (1) 1, 1. doi: 10.1007/s00285-023-02022-3

  • Wallis, Tristan P., Jiang, Anmin, Young, Kyle, Hou, Huiyi, Kudo, Kye, McCann, Alex J., Durisic, Nela, Joensuu, Merja, Oelz, Dietmar, Nguyen, Hien, Gormal, Rachel S. and Meunier, Frédéric A. (2023). Super-resolved trajectory-derived nanoclustering analysis using spatiotemporal indexing. Nature Communications, 14 (1) 3353, 1-16. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-38866-y

  • Wallis, Tristan P., Jiang, Anmin, Young, Kyle, Hou, Huioyi, Kudo, Kye, McCann, Alex, Durisic, Nela, Joensuu, Merja, Oelz, Dietmar, Nguyen, Hien, Gormal, Rachel S. and Meunier, Frederic A. (2023). Data for NASTIC. The University of Queensland. (Dataset) doi: 10.48610/0901bca

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Supervision

View all Supervision

Available Projects

  • This project deals with simulation of collective cell migration in tissues. It will include collaboration with experimentists at IMB and with Prof. Zhiyong Li .

  • This project deals with emergent structures in the cortex of living cells. We will perform agent based simulations (Brownian Dynamics) and investigate the nucleation and growth of contractile stress fibres in the cortex.

  • Investigate mechano-biological regulation of cytotoxicity of immune cells through material properties of target cells and their cell nuclei. Use modelling and simulation of fluctuating membranes in order to characterise how area and persistence of interaction zones is controlled by cytoskeletal stress and nuclear elasticity.

    This PhD project will involve both computational simulation of stochastic partial differential equations and formal mathematical (asymptotic) analysis as well as collaboration with experimentalists Alexis Lomakin and it might also involve data analysis and statistical inference of parameter values.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Book Chapter

  • Manhart, Angelika , Oelz, Dietmar , Schmeiser, Christian and Sfakianakis, Nikolaos (2017). Numerical treatment of the Filament-Based Lamellipodium Model (FBLM). Modeling cellular systems. (pp. 141-159) edited by Frederik Graw, Franziska Matthäus and Jürgen Pahle. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-45833-5_7

  • Ölz, Dietmar and Schmeiser, Christian (2010). How do cells move? Mathematical modeling of cytoskeleton dynamics and cell migration. Cell mechanics: from single scale-based models to multiscale modelling. (pp. 133-157) edited by Arnaud Chauviere, Luigi Preziosi and Claude Verdier. Boca Raton, FL, United States: Chapman and Hall / CRC Press. doi: 10.1201/9781420094558-c5

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Vats, Yash, Mehra, Mani, Oelz, Dietmar and Gandhi, Saurabh R. (2023). Fractional order modified Treves model: simulation and learning. 2023 International Conference on Fractional Differentiation and Its Applications (ICFDA), Ajman, United Arab Emirates, 14-16 March 2023. Piscataway, NJ, United States: IEEE. doi: 10.1109/icfda58234.2023.10153321

Other Outputs

  • Wallis, Tristan P., Jiang, Anmin, Young, Kyle, Hou, Huioyi, Kudo, Kye, McCann, Alex, Durisic, Nela, Joensuu, Merja, Oelz, Dietmar, Nguyen, Hien, Gormal, Rachel S. and Meunier, Frederic A. (2023). Data for NASTIC. The University of Queensland. (Dataset) doi: 10.48610/0901bca

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • This project deals with simulation of collective cell migration in tissues. It will include collaboration with experimentists at IMB and with Prof. Zhiyong Li .

  • This project deals with emergent structures in the cortex of living cells. We will perform agent based simulations (Brownian Dynamics) and investigate the nucleation and growth of contractile stress fibres in the cortex.

  • Investigate mechano-biological regulation of cytotoxicity of immune cells through material properties of target cells and their cell nuclei. Use modelling and simulation of fluctuating membranes in order to characterise how area and persistence of interaction zones is controlled by cytoskeletal stress and nuclear elasticity.

    This PhD project will involve both computational simulation of stochastic partial differential equations and formal mathematical (asymptotic) analysis as well as collaboration with experimentalists Alexis Lomakin and it might also involve data analysis and statistical inference of parameter values.

  • In this project, we are investigating how hydra spheroids which emerge from surface patches cut out of living hydra determine a polar axis. The project involves the mechanical description of the spheroids (solid mechanics of shells) and the description of their microstructure (actin filament network).