Complex Systems and Biological Physics

Pulak Dutta  [Dutta Research Page]
Professor Dutta is studying the interface between soft and hard materials.  These are common in biology:  many organisms grow inorganic components (biominerals) to add mechanical strength and also for sensing applications.  Prof. Dutta's group uses bioinspired techniques to grow inorganic crystals at ordered organic surfaces, which they study using X-ray scattering, atomic force microscopy, and other techniques.

John F. Marko  [Marko Laboratory Page]
Professor Marko's research is focused on the question of how DNA is organized and processed inside cells.  His group carries out single-DNA stretching experiments to study protein-DNA interactions and chromatin structure, as well as experiments on living cells to directly study whole chromosomes.  Prof. Marko's group also uses statistical mechanics to study problems in molecular biophysics.

Adilson E. Motter  [Motter Research Page]
Professor Motter's research is focused on complex systems and nonlinear phenomena, primarily in the realm of chaos, fractals, statistical physics, complex networks, and biological physics.  Current projects include whole-cell modeling of cellular metabolism, system-level approach to cascading failures in infrastructure networks, synchronization and other dynamical phenomena in complex networks, advection dynamics in chaotic fluid flows, and foundations of chaos in classical and relativistic systems.

Alexander Patashinski
Professor Patashinski studies the molecular origins of complexity in liquids, glasses, phase transitions, and biological systems. The main goal is to find the simple elements, and understand how they combine to create a complex system. He works in dense collaborations with experimentalists in the Department of Chemistry and the new NERC center, and with the Dow Chemical Company. His part in these joint projects is modeling the observed phenomena, and then apply whatever theoretical and mathematical means are useful in solving the puzzle. Computer simulation is the favorite way to visualize the system. Special recognition techniques, already existing or newly invented, are applied to recognize and analyze the mechanisms. Most recent projects included contact electrification in dielectrics, mixing by chemical reactions, melting and glass transition in a small 2D system, drying of ceramics.

Sara Solla
Sara Solla's research interests lie in the application of statistical mechanics to the analysis of complex systems.  Her research has led her to the study of neural networks, which are theoretical models that incorporate "fuzzy logic" and are thought to be in some aspects analogous to the way the human brain stores and processes information.  She has used spin-glass models (originally developed to explain magnetism in amorphous materials) to describe associative memory, worked on a statistical description of supervised learning, investigated the emergence of generalization abilities in adaptive systems, and studied the dynamics of incremental learning algorithms.  Solla has also helped develop constrained neural networks for pattern-recognition tasks, along with descriptions of the computational capabilities of neural networks and learning

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August 26, 2013