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College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

You are cordially invited to the 28th annual

Dr. Shih-I Pai Lecture


Cristina Marchetti

M. Cristina Marchetti
Professor of Physics
University of California Santa Barbara


"The Physics of Active Matter"

Tuesday, October 11, 2022
4 p.m. Virtual Lecture
5 p.m. Q&A

Questions? Contact Konstantina Trivisa at trivisa@umd.edu; or Mary Kearney at mkearney@umd.edu or 301-405-4814.

About the Talk
Birds flock, bees swarm and fish school. These are just some of the remarkable examples of collective behavior found in nature. Physicists have been able to capture some of this behavior by modeling organisms as "flying spins" that align with their neighbors according to simple but noisy rules. Successes like these have spawned a field devoted to the physics of active matter—matter made not of atom and molecules but of entities that consume energy to generate their own motion and forces. Through interactions, collectives of such active particles organize in emergent structures on scales much larger than that of the individuals. There are many examples of this spontaneous organization in both the living and non-living worlds: motor proteins orchestrate the organization of genetic material inside cells, swarming bacteria self-organize into biofilms, epithelial cells migrate collectively to fill in wounds, engineered microswimmers self-assemble to form smart materials. In this lecture I will introduce the field of active matter and highlight ongoing efforts by physicists, biologists, engineers and mathematicians to model the complex behavior of these systems, with the goal of identifying universal principles.

About the Speaker
Cristina Marchetti joined the faculty at Syracuse University in 1987, after postdoctoral appointments at the University of Maryland, Rockefeller University and City College of CUNY. In 2018 she joined the physics faculty at the University of California Santa Barbara.

Marchetti's research focuses on collective behavior in condensed matter and biological systems. Recently she has played a leading role in the development of the field of active matter. The active matter paradigm is relevant to phenomena on many scales, from the control of human crowds to the collective migration of epithelial cells in wound healing. It has additionally paved the way to the development of synthetic analogues that may serve as the base for the development of materials with life-like functions. Marchetti's research has shown that some of this complex behavior can be understood in terms of minimal models based on physical interaction and local rules. She has demonstrated that active systems spontaneously aggregate in the absence of any attractive interactions and has quantified the interplay of activity and topological effects in driving self-sustained flows in active liquid crystals. Her group is currently applying active matter ideas to problems in developmental biology.

Marchetti is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. She has served on elected positions within the American Physical Society, including chair of GSNP and of GSOFT and as member-at-large of DCMP. She was awarded a Rotschild-Mayent Fellowship at the Institut Curie, a Simons Fellowship in Theoretical Physics, and the inaugural 2019 Leo P. Kadanoff Prize by the American Physical Society for "original contributions to equilibrium and non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, including profound work on equilibrium and driven vortex systems, and fundamental research and leadership in the growing field of active matter."

Marchetti earned her Laurea in Physics cum laude from the University of Pavia, Italy in 1978 and her Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida in 1982.

About the Lecture
Dr. Shih-I Pai (1913-1996) served on the faculty of the University of Maryland at College Park beginning in 1949 and retired with Emeritus status in 1983. He was the recipient of a Centennial Medal from the A. James Clark School of Engineering and was a founding member of the Institute for Fluid Dynamics and Applied Mathematics (now the Institute for Physical Science and Technology). Dr. Pai authored 14 books and 130 articles in the field of aerodynamics, fluid dynamics and viscous flow, for which he received international recognition. The lecture series honors Dr. Pai's many accomplishments and contributions to UMCP and is supported by donations to the University of Maryland Foundation.

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