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Steven M. Abel

Steven Abel.

Steven M. Abel

Associate Professor

Contact Information

Steven Abel.

  • Office Address: 327 Dougherty Engineering Building
  • Phone: 865-974-5709
  • E-mail:
Group Website


  • PhD, Stanford University
  • BS, BA, Rice University


Steven Abel.

Steve Abel received his undergraduate education at Rice University, where he earned a BS in Chemical Physics, a BA in Mathematics, and a BA in Physics. He received a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University and was a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

His graduate research focused on developing theoretical methods to understand and describe the highly correlated motion of molecules in dense liquids. His postdoctoral work applied theory and computation to understand how T cells, the primary orchestrators of adaptive immunity, identify and respond to pathogens. This work was carried out in close collaboration with experimentalists, with a particular emphasis on understanding how the membrane environment influences signal transduction in cells. Abel’s group applies theoretical and computational methods to investigate fundamental problems in cell biology and immunology. A major focus is on the development of a multiscale, spatiotemporal understanding of cellular processes involving the interplay of signal transduction networks, membranes, and the cytoskeleton.

Awards and Recognitions

  • 2020 Professional Promise in Research Award, Tickle College of Engineering
  • 2020 Teaching Fellow Award, Tickle College of Engineering
  • 2020 Tom and Ruth Clark Excellence in Chemical Engineering Award, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  • 2019 Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentor of the Year Award, Tickle College of Engineering
  • 2019, 2015 Outstanding Teacher Award, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  • 2018 NSF CAREER Award
  • Centennial Teaching Assistant Award, Stanford University

Professional Service

  • Member: American Institute of Chemical Engineers, American Physical Society, Biophysical Society
  • Chair/co-chair of AIChE Annual Meeting sessions including: Complex and Networked Chemical and Biochemical Systems, Receptor-Mediated and Intracellular Phenomena, Applications in Immunology and Immunotherapy
  • Academic Editor, PLOS One


Steven Abel.

  • Computational cell biology and immunology
  • Theory and simulation of soft biological materials
  • Membrane and polymer biophysics
  • Antigen recognition by immune cells
  • Intracellular transport
  • Stochastic and spatial effects in biochemical reaction networks
  • Systems biology
  • Statistical mechanics
Google Scholar


  • Anozie, U. C., Quigley, K. J., Prescott, A., Abel, S. M., & Dalhaimer, P. (2020). Equilibrium binding of isolated and in-plasma high-density lipoproteins (HDLs) to polystyrene nanoparticles. Journal of Nanoparticle Research, 22(8). doi:10.1007/s11051-020-04953-0
  • Irle, S., Vuong, V. Q., Elayyan, M. H., Talipov, M. R., & Abel, S. M. (2020). Protein Molecular Dynamics Simulations with Approximate QM: What Can We Learn?. Unknown Journal, 2114, 149-161. doi:10.1007/978-1-0716-0282-9_10
  • Pullen, R. H., & Abel, S. M. (2019). Mechanical feedback enables catch bonds to selectively stabilize scanning microvilli at T-cell surfaces. Molecular Biology of the Cell, 30(16), 2087-2095. doi:10.1091/mbc.E19-01-0048
  • Liu, F., Abel, S. M., Collins, L., Srijanto, B. R., Standaert, R., Katsaras, J., & Collier, C. P. (2019). Geometry-Dependent Nonequilibrium Steady-State Diffusion and Adsorption of Lipid Vesicles in Micropillar Arrays. Advanced Materials Interfaces, 6(9). doi:10.1002/admi.201900054
  • Liu, F., Abel, S. M., Collins, L., Srijanto, B. R., Standaert, R., Katsaras, J., & Collier, C. P. (2019). Steady‐State Diffusion: Geometry‐Dependent Nonequilibrium Steady‐State Diffusion and Adsorption of Lipid Vesicles in Micropillar Arrays (Adv. Mater. Interfaces 9/2019). Advanced Materials Interfaces, 6(9), 1970055. doi:10.1002/admi.201970055
  • Mlynarczyk, P. J., & Abel, S. M. (2019). First passage of molecular motors on networks of cytoskeletal filaments. Physical Review E, 99(2). doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.99.022406
  • Onwubiko, U. N., Mlynarczyk, P. J., Wei, B., Habiyaremye, J., Clack, A., Abel, S. M., & Das, M. E. (2019). A Cdc42 GEF, Gef1, through endocytosis organizes F-BAR Cdc15 along the actomyosin ring and promotes concentric furrowing. Journal of Cell Science, 132(5). doi:10.1242/jcs.223776
  • Alves, D. S., Westerfield, J. M., Shi, X., Nguyen, V. P., Stefanski, K. M., Booth, K. R., . . . Barrera, F. N. (2018). A novel pH-dependent membrane peptide that binds to EphA2 and inhibits cell migration. eLife, 7. doi:10.7554/eLife.36645
  • Norred, S. E., Caveney, P. M., Chauhan, G., Collier, L. K., Collier, C. P., Abel, S. M., & Simpson, M. L. (2018). Macromolecular Crowding Induces Spatial Correlations That Control Gene Expression Bursting Patterns. ACS Synthetic Biology, 7(5), 1251-1258. doi:10.1021/acssynbio.8b00139
  • Li, B., & Abel, S. M. (2018). Shaping membrane vesicles by adsorption of a semiflexible polymer. Soft Matter, 14(2), 185-193. doi:10.1039/c7sm01751k
  • Pullen, R. H., & Abel, S. M. (2017). Catch Bonds at T Cell Interfaces: Impact of Surface Reorganization and Membrane Fluctuations. Biophysical Journal, 113(1), 120-131. doi:10.1016/j.bpj.2017.05.023