Syracuse University to host international, scientific conference on soft active materials
Syracuse University to host international, scientific conference on soft active materialsApril 29, 2009Judy Holmesjlholmes@syr.edu
Scientists from the across the United States and abroad who are working on the emergent properties of soft active matter will converge at Syracuse University May 18-21 for the 2009 Soft Active Materials Workshop (SAM09), presented by the Department of Physics in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences. SAM09 will be held in conjunction with the biannual New York Complex Matter Workshop, which first began in 2005. Registration information and a complete schedule of events are available at http://icamconferences.org/sam09/.
The workshop is co-sponsored by the International Institute for Complex Adaptive Matter (ICAM-I2CAM), the Syracuse Biomaterials Institute, Blue Highway, NYSTAR, the journal Soft Matter and CASE at Syracuse University.
A workshop keynote address, “Physics at Work in Cell Biology and Cancer,” will be presented Tuesday, May 19, at 7:30 p.m. in the Life Sciences Complex Auditorium (Room 001). The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be presented by renowned scientists Jean-Francois Joanny, director of the Physical Chemistry “Curie” unit at the Institut Curie in Paris, founded in 1909 by Marie Curie and Claudius Regaud; and Jacques Prost, general director of the prestigious City of Paris Industrial Physics and Chemistry Higher Educational Institution (ESPCI).
Joanny and Prost lead a research group at the Institut Curie that focuses on using physics to better understand the fundamental functions of cell life. Their work includes the study of membranes, molecular motors and protein/protein adhesion. During their lecture, they will illustrate the physics approaches they use in their research.
Soft active matter is any material that has both solid-like and fluid-like properties, with the fluid-like properties making the material “softer” than an ordinary solid. Soft matter becomes active when its individual units are internally driven. Examples include the cellular cytoskeleton and dense bacterial suspensions.
The Soft Active Materials Workshop will focus on nonequilibrium collective behavior and locomotion in active systems, including mixtures of cytoskeletal filaments and motor proteins, the cell cytoskeleton, bacteria colonies, collections of cells in elastic matrices or living tissues, plankton in the ocean, insects or animal groups, and vibrated granular layers. By bringing together researchers from a variety of disciplines, organizers hope to stimulate new interactions and ideas in this rapidly evolving field.
More than 30 scientists will be presenting their work during the four-day conference, including:
- Iain Couzin, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University, who studies the collective behavior in animal groups as exhibited in flocks of birds, schools of fish and swarms of insects; he is a 2008 Searle Scholar for Innovative Research;
- Margaret Gardel, assistant professor of physics at the University of Chicago; a recipient of a 2007 National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award, Gardel specializes in soft condensed matter physics and the rules governing the deformation of soft materials, such as biological tissue;
- Deborah Gordon, professor of biology and senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University; Gordon’s research focuses on the social behavior and ecology of social insects, including ant colony organization, the ecology and population genetics of harvester ant populations, and the invasive Argentine ant; she is the recipient of a 2001 Guggenheim Fellowship and the author of “Ants at Work” (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2000);
- Paul Janmey, associate director of the Institute of Medicine and Engineering and professor of physiology at the University of Pennsylvania; Janmey’s research focuses on several aspects of cell mechanics, including how the stiffness of surfaces alters cell structure, function and growth, and how changes in cell membrane structure lead to the production of signals that remodel the cytoskeleton; and
- Tamas Vicsek, professor of physics at Eotvos University in Budapest; Vicsek is a member of the Hungarian Academy of Science, the recipient of the 2003 Leo Szilard Award and a fellow of the American Physical Society; he is author of “Fluctuations and Scaling in Biology” (Oxford University Press, 2001) and has been cited for his outstanding contributions to the physical characteristics of biological/human phenomena, such as the “Mexican wave,” seen at stadiums.