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Cells are fascinating and highly dynamic miniature molecular machines that move, divide, and change shape during many physiological processes. Cell movements are ultimately driven by spatially and temporally controlled rearrangement of cytoskeleton elements. The Wittmann lab is interested in the principles and molecular mechanisms by which such complex cell shape changes are controlled by the microtubule cytoskeleton and particularly by a growing and diverse class of proteins that bind to growing microtubule ends. These +TIPs mediate interactions of microtubules with other intracellular structures, regulate microtubule polymerization dynamics, and likely have other undiscovered functions. One principle tool we use is advanced light microscopy, and we aim to push the envelope of live cell imaging. We also pursue the development of novel optogenetic tools to manipulate intracellular protein activity with high spatial and temporal resolution.