Invited speakers

This meeting will feature a series of keynote presentations from senior figures in the physics of biological and active systems.

Confirmed speakers:


Robert Austin, Princeton University, USA

Tobias Bollenbach, The Institute of Science and Technology Austria, Austria

Title: Quantifying the determinants of evolutionary dynamics leading to drug resistance

Tobias Bollenbach is assistant professor at IST Austria in Klosterneuburg (near Vienna). He studied physics at the University of Gottingen and at Michigan State University. His PhD in theoretical biological physics at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden from 2002-2005 focused on the transport and gradient formation of signaling molecules in animal development. In 2006, he moved to the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School where he worked on the underlying mechanisms of drug interactions and identified general principles in bacterial gene expression responses to antibiotic combinations. Since 2010, the research of his group has focused on the dynamics of bacterial stress responses, drug resistance evolution, and related topics which he approaches using a combination of experimental techniques from microbial systems biology with theoretical approaches from physics.

Ray Goldstein, University of Cambridge, UK

Title: Upside down and inside out: the biomechanics of cell sheet folding

Ray Goldstein received undergraduate degrees in chemistry and physics from MIT, and a PhD in physics from Cornell University. In postdoctoral work at the University of Chicago and faculty positions in physics and applied mathematics at Princeton University and the University of Arizona he focused on nonlinear dynamics and pattern formation in physics and biology. He moved in 2006 to the University of Cambridge as the Schlumberger Professor of Complex Physical Systems. He has published papers on a wide variety of subjects, from integrable systems to experimental fluid mechanics, cellular biophysics, and geophysics.

Recognition of his work includes the Stephanos Pnevmatikos Award in Nonlinear Science, the William Hopkins Prize of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, the 2012 Ig Nobel Prize in Physics, and Fellowship of the Royal Society.


Jean-François Joanny, Institut Curie, France

Title: Physics of epithelial tissues

Current responsibilities: Member Scientic Board Max Planck Institute for Polymer Science Mainz
(2008-2016), ESPCI Director General (2014-), Member of Conseil de la Recherche FRM (Fondation de la Recherche Médicale)
Current research areas: out of equilibrium membranes for biology, molecular motors, cytoskeletonmotors self-organization, cell motility and dynamics, cell adhesion, restriction enzymes, cytokinesis, mechanics and growth of tissues, non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, active systems


Rhoda Hawkins, University of Sheffield, UK

Title: Active droplets and cell motility

Rhoda Hawkins is a lecturer at the University of Sheffield. After her undergraduate physics degree at the University of Oxford she did her PhD in theoretical biological physics at the University of Leeds (2002-2005). She did postdoctoral work at AMOLF in Amsterdam, UPMC/Institut Curie in Paris and the University of Bristol. She moved to Sheffield as a lecturer in 2011. Her main research interests lie in using active matter theory to describe the filaments and motors making up the cell cytoskeleton and applications to cell motility, cell shape and deformation and nuclear mechanics and deformation. She is also interested in endocytosis/phagocytosis and tissue growth.


Cristina Marchetti, Syracuse University, USA

Title: Glass and jamming transitions in biological tissues

M. Cristina Marchetti is the William R. Kenan Professor of Physics at Syracuse University and Interim Director of the Syracuse Biomaterials Institute. She received her Laurea in physics from the University of Pavia, Italy, and her Ph.D. in physics from the University of Florida. She has held postdoctoral positions at the University of Maryland, Rockefeller University, and City College of CUNY. Marchetti is a versatile theoretical physicist who has worked on a broad range of problems in condensed matter physics. Currently, she is interested in understanding the emergent behavior of ``active matter’’. The name was coined to describe large collections of living creatures that exhibit organized behaviors on scales much larger than that of the individuals. Examples range from the flocking of birds to the sorting and organization of cells in morphogenesis, and include synthetic analogues, such as active colloids and engineered microswimmers. The goal of Dr. Marchetti’s research is to show that much of this complex behavior can be understood in terms of minimal models based on physical interaction and local rules. Dr. Marchetti is currently co-editor of Annual Reviews of Condensed Matter Physics. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Ben Simons, University of Cambridge, UK 

Title: Tracing the cellular basis of epidermal maintenance and cancer


Joel Stavans, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel

Title: One day in the life of a one-dimensional organism

Key dates

  • Abstract submission deadline (extended):
    14 October 2015
  • Early registration deadline:
    11 November 2015
  • Registration deadline:
    10 December 2015