Living systems have the capacity to respond to a variety of signals, spanning chemical, spatial and mechanical stimuli. The majority of research has been directed toward chemical stimuli due to their physically defined nature and obvious therapeutic potential. Our focus is on tissue responses to mechanical forces, which are of equal importance but historically more difficult to study. We use Drosophila embryogenesis as our model due to the array of tools available and its accessibility for live imaging. Importantly, the developmental patterning systems that specify the future body plan have been well characterized in Drosophila, making it an excellent system to study the interface between genetic regulation and tissue mechanics. The long-term goal of our research is to integrate genetics, signaling and mechanics to address how mechanical forces and biochemical signals work together to shape tissue patterns, failure of which can lead to a variety of human diseases.