Condensed Matter and Biophysics Theory


The entire theory group are members of the Brandeis Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, in which interdisciplinary teams elucidate the role that material properties play in the structure and function of cells and exploit this knowledge to create new categories of materials.

Professor Aparna Baskaran's research interests include understanding out-of-equilibrium properties of soft materials and physics of biological systems.

Professor Bulbul Chakraborty is interested in systems far from equilibrium. Her recent research has been focussed on

  • Analyzing the origin of glassy dynamics in supercooled liquids with a specific focus on the question of an underlying critical point
  • Exploring the origin of force chains in granular media and their effect on the jamming of granular flows
  • The nature of the jamming transition
  • Modelling the dynamical instability in microtubules

harvard033005A sampling of recent publications and short descriptions of her research topics can be found at the group's Web site.

Professor Jané Kondev is interested in problems where fluctuations play a prominent role, such as the statistical physics of polymers and structural glasses. The goal is to develop coarse-grained theories that lead to experimentally falsifiable predictions.

Our main focus is on systems of fluctuating lines and surfaces which due to their extended nature are strongly affected by confinement and similar constraints. For example, in the context of compact polymers, which are toy models of proteins, we have developed a simple field-theoretical model that leads to exact results for the polymer scaling exponents.

Professor Michael Hagan and his lab endeavor to understand how fundamental physical principles lead to the forces that control assembly and dynamic pattern formation in biological and biomimetic systems. Because assembling structures can be orders of magnitude larger than the individual components, his lab develops and applies computational and theoretical methods that bridge disparate length and time scales.

Applications of these methods include understanding assembly mechanisms for viral capsids and other large protein complexes, and learning to direct the rational design of novel materials with biomimetic function.