Soft and Biological Matter

Prof. Brian Camley is a new faculty member who uses theory and computation to study the physics of cell biology. This includes questions like “How do cells work together to find a signal?” or “How do proteins move in fluid membranes?”

Simulation of a cell aggregate following a chemical gradient by a tug-of-war.

Prof. Robert Leheny is interested in both soft and hard condensed matter physics. He has recently been focused on complex fluids and liquid crystals.

Prof. Daniel Reich conducts research in biological physics, where he applies magnetic nanoparticles and microfabricated systems to studies of cell mechanics and cellular mechanotransduction.

Top left: schematic of a 1-mm-scale device used in Prof. Reich’s lab to investigate the elasticity of biological tissue cells. Top right: The cell is positioned on flexible magnetic pillars which can be pulled further apart by a magnet.


Prof. Mark Robbins is a theorist working in soft condensed matter. His research topics include studies of friction and adhesion, fractures — including development of earthquake faults, and polymer mechanics. He uses numerical simulations conducted on the JHU high-performance computer cluster.

A snapshot from a numerical simulation by Prof. Mark Robbins and a former JHU graduate student Mike Salerno of a deformation during a large “avalanche” in a sheared solid.


Prof. Francesca Serra is a new faculty member in experimental soft matter physics and her research focuses on liquid crystals. In particular, she studies the optics of topological defects and the interaction of living cells with liquid crystal elastomers.