Diversity in science matters to breakthroughs. When more scientists with varied backgrounds and experiences fill laboratories and collaborate on teams, outcomes in innovation and discovery surpass those of less diverse scientific groups, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)….
Syracuse Physicists Excel at Gordon Research Conference in New Hampshire
Physicists from the College of Arts and Sciences shone at the Soft Condensed Matter Physics Gordon Research Conference (GRC), recently held at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, N.H.
GRCs are prestigious international conferences that provide a forum for discussion about cutting-edge, unpublished research in the biological, chemical and physical sciences. The Soft Condensed Matter Physics GRC is held every two years. The theme of this year’s conference was “Self-Assembly and Active Matter.”
Among the Syracuse participants were Mark Bowick, the Joel Dorman Steele Professor of Physics and director of the Soft Matter Program, and Lisa Manning, associate professor of physics, both of whom were invited speakers. Cristina Marchetti, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Physics and interim director of the Syracuse Biomaterials Institute, served as a discussion leader.
Assistant Professor Joseph Paulsen, who joins the Syracuse faculty this fall, beat out more than 120 entrants to co-win the GRC poster competition, entitling him to deliver an oral presentation on the final day of the program.
“These conferences are among the most important in our field,” says Marchetti, who co-chaired the 2011 Soft Condensed Matter Physics GRC. “Each GRC brings together some of the world’s leading researchers in a given area, all in an intimate and informal setting that is conducive to discussing new results and inspiring new collaborations. Invitations to speak at GRC are highly prestigious, and provide a unique opportunity to showcase one’s work and test it in front of a challenging audience.”
Many of the presentations were bio-inspired, she says. Among the self-assembly topics of discussion were biomineralization, virus assembly and assembly of Janus and DNA colloids. Active matter topics included swimmers, driven colloids, actin and microtubule assembly, and tissues.
Marchetti, who led a talk on biological active matter, says most of the presenters were global leaders in soft matter, as well as life scientists and materials scientists whose work overlapped with condensed matter. “Members of our Soft Matter Program had a strong presence at the conference, confirming their prominence in the field,” she adds.
During the five-day conference, Bowick discussed shape-shifting droplet networks. Manning, who spoke on glassiness and jamming in biological tissues, also headlined a career panel during a two-day research seminar preceding the conference.
Manning has been elected co-vice chair of the 2017 GRC and co-chair of the ’19 conference. Vice chairs are elected by their peers at each GRC.