(*joint project with C. Salafia)
The placenta is a principal regulator of fetal growth and health. As such, it is central to the study of fetal origins of adult health risks. A placenta is little more than a thin tissue sheath covering a complex vascular network growing like a tree from the point of insertion of the umbilical cord. While it is well-understood what a normal human placenta should look like, a deviation from the norm can take many possible shapes. Classification of these shapes has presented an interesting and important challenge for the field of placental pathology. We have proposed a mechanism which explains some of the observed variability by the change in the structure of the underlying vascular tree. We have developed a dynamical growth model for the placental vasculature, based on Diffusion Limited Aggregation. We have demonstrated that a change in the parameters of the growth produces the observed variability.