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Exploiting the Malleability of Disorder to Design Biologically-Inspired Function
Start Date: 10/6/2021Start Time: 4:00 PM
End Date: 10/6/2021End Time: 5:30 PM

Event Description
BIOMED Seminar

Exploiting the Malleability of Disorder to Design Biologically-Inspired Function

Andrea Liu, PhD
Hepburn Professor of Physics
Department of Physics and Astronomy
School of Arts and Sciences
University of Pennsylvania

The complexity of living systems poses a formidable challenge to physical scientists interested in biology. I will discuss one theoretical approach towards gaining possible insight into biological phenomena: to design systems to exhibit similar phenomena. To do so, we start with systems with complex energy/cost landscapes, which have far more variation in their properties than those with simple ones. This natural variation can be pushed even further by design, allowing us to tune in properties inspired by those common in living matter, such as the ability of proteins (e.g., hemoglobin) to change their conformations upon binding of an atom (oxygen) or molecule, or the ability of the brain’s vascular network to send enhanced blood flow and oxygen to specific areas of the brain associated with a given task. We create ensembles of systems designed for a given task to gain new insight into the relation between microscopic structure and function that may help us to understand living systems.

Andrea Liu, PhD, is a theoretical soft and living matter physicist who received her A.B. and PhD degrees in physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and Cornell University, respectively. Dr. Liu served on the faculty of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA for ten years before joining the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania in 2004, where she is the Hepburn Professor of Physics. Dr. Liu is currently Past Speaker of the Council of the American Physical Society (APS) and Past Chair of the Physics Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She is a fellow of the APS, AAAS and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Contact Information:
Name: Lisa Williams
Email: ltw22@drexel.edu
Andrea Liu
Remote Webinar
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