The long-term goal of our lab is to understand how mechanical forces modulate neural stem cell fate in development and repair at molecular, cellular and organismal levels. We previously showed that the stretch-activated ion channel Piezo1 mediates mechanosensitive lineage specification of neural stem cells. Our studies revealed that Piezo1 activity in neural stem cells is modulated by matrix mechanics, and that it influences differentiation of the cells into neurons or astrocytes. Current work focuses on understanding (i) how Piezo1 detects and transduces matrix mechanical signals, (ii) how Piezo1 activity elicits gene expression changes, (iii) how Piezo1 may shape neural development, and (iv) how Piezo1 may be involved in certain disease states. We use a multi-disciplinary approach, combining ideas and techniques from ion channel biophysics, cell biology, optical imaging, stem cell biology and bioengineering.