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Denise Montell is Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics at UC Santa Barbara. She was previously the Director of the Graduate Program in Biological Chemistry and founding director of the Center for Cell Dynamics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The Montell lab has made impressive inroads into the mechanisms of cell motility, employing molecular genetics, live imaging and especially, photo-manipulation techniques to determine how cells move. Moving cells are constantly changing shape and the lab has also done creative work uncovering a set of mechanochemical “modules” that can be combined in different ways to create a diversity of cell shapes and behaviors.