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Soft Matter, Nanolinear and Statistical Physics

Ajay Gopinathan Ajay Gopinathan

Professor Gopinathan's research focuses on a variety of problems in biophysics, soft condensed matter and the interface between the two fields. His group uses theoretical and computational techniques from different areas in soft matter and statistical mechanics including polymer physics, elasticity and anomalous transport.

The group's primary research area is Biological Transport which involves understanding how transport occurs in biological systems across different levels of organization and scale -  ranging from macromolecules and vesicles being transported within the cell and across membranes to cells to communities of cells and higher animals across geographical scales. In the cellular context, the environment is structurally complex and exhibits unique dynamical properties. This results in novel types of transport phenomena and effects that in vivo systems manage to remarkably exploit. Examples include polymer transport across membrane pores, macromolecular transport through nuclear pores and motor driven intracellular transport. At higher levels, problems studied include eukaryotic cell motility, bacterial community motility and foraging in higher animals.

In addition, his group is involved in a number of other projects including drug design, colloidal dynamics, self-organization at surfaces, the geometry and dynamics of elastic sheets, transport in disordered systems and fluctuation induced forces.
(209) 228-4048
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Linda S. Hirst

Professor Hirst's research interests focus on soft-condensed matter physics, with interests in both biophysics and liquid crystal materials. In general, her research group uses experimental techniques to characterize molecular assemblies and to understand the physics behind why they form. In a wider context, her group tries to uncover the common principles of how self-organization at a molecular level can transfer physical properties across length scales to define complex structures in real biological systems and soft phases.

Professor Hirst's group uses a wide variety of experimental techniques, with significant focus on:

  • X-ray diffraction and scattering (both synchrotron and in-house)
  • Confocal microscopy
  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Transmission electron microscopy

Current research projects include the:

  • Influence of cholesterol and polyunsaturated lipids on cell membrane structure.
  • Controlling Lipid phase behavior and raft formation for "soft microfluidics"
  • Biopolymer networks
  • Bent-core and novel ferroelectric liquid crystal materials

In addition to her research interests Prof. Hirst is also the creator of, a new educational networking site for the soft matter community around the world.
(209) 228-4569
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Kevin Mitchell
  • Nonlinear dynamics and classical/quantum chaos, with applications to atomic and molecular physics
  • Semi-classical phase-space techniques
  • Topological and geometric methods for low-dimensional systems
  • Geometric/Berry phase and gauge theory
(209) 201-3471
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Chih-Chun Chien
Assistant Professor

Theoretical atomic and molecular physics.
(209) 228-2224
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Bin Liu
Assistant Professor
  • Biofluid dynamics
  • Geo-inspired fluid-structure interactions
  • Nonewtonian flows
  • Computational fluid dyanmics with mobile boundaries
  • Simple models of nonlinear systems
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Dustin Kleckner
Assistant Professor
(209) 228-2603
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Daniel Beller
Assistant Professor
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