During the 2023–24 academic year, the CMSA will be hosting a seminar on Active Matter, organized by Farzan Vafa and David Nelson. This seminar will take place bi-weekly on Thursdays at 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm (Eastern Time). The meetings will take place in Room G10 at the CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge MA 02138, and some meetings will take place virtually on Zoom or be held in hybrid formats.

To learn how to attend, please fill out this form, or contact Farzan Vafa (fvafa@cmsa.fas.harvard.edu).

The schedule will be updated as talks are confirmed.

Control of actin cable length by decelerated growth and network geometry

CMSA Room G10 CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA, United States

Active Matter Seminar Speaker: Shane McInally, Brandeis Title: Control of actin cable length by decelerated growth and network geometry Abstract: The sizes of many subcellular structures are coordinated with cell size to ensure that these structures meet the functional demands of the cell. In eukaryotic cells, these subcellular structures are often membrane-bound organelles, whose volume is […]

Competition at the front of expanding populations

CMSA Room G10 CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA, United States

Active Matter Seminar Speaker: Mehran Kardar, MIT Title: Competition at the front of expanding populations Abstract: When competing species grow into new territory, the population is dominated by descendants of successful ancestors at the expansion front. Successful ancestry depends on the reproductive advantage (fitness), as well as ability and opportunity to colonize new domains. (1) Based […]

Insights from single cell lineage trees

Active Matter Seminar Speaker: Sahand Hormoz, Harvard Medical School, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Title: Insights from single cell lineage trees Abstract: In this talk, I will discuss two recent projects from my lab that involve lineage trees of cells (the branching diagram that represents the ancestry and division history of individual cells). In the first project, we […]

Frustration-free states of cell fate networks: the case of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition

CMSA Room G10 CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA, United States

Active Matter Seminar Speaker: Herbert Levine (Northeastern) Title: Frustration-free states of cell fate networks: the case of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition Abstract: Cell fate decisions are made by allowing external signals to govern the steady-state pattern adopted by networks of interacting regulatory factors governing transcription and translation. One of these decisions, of importance for both developmental processes […]

Strongly driven mixtures and membranes: Out of equilibrium surprises 

CMSA Room G10 CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA, United States

Active Matter Seminar Speaker: Max Lavrentovich, Worcester State University Title: Strongly driven mixtures and membranes: Out of equilibrium surprises Abstract: The more prosaic cousin of active matter, driven inactive matter, is still full of unexpected phenomena. I will discuss two projects involving two seemingly mundane systems, a phase-separating colloidal mixture and a lipid membrane, which demonstrate […]

Contractility, structure formation and fluctuations in active gels, with and without molecular motors

CMSA Room G10 CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA, United States

Active Matter Seminar Speaker: Fred MacKintosh (Rice University) Title: Contractility, structure formation and fluctuations in active gels, with and without molecular motors Abstract: Various processes in living cells depend on contractile forces that are often generated by myosin motors in concert with polar actin filaments. A textbook example of this is the actomyosin contractile ring that […]

Scaling behavior and control of nuclear wrinkling

CMSA Room G10 CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA, United States

Active Matter Seminar Speaker: Nicolas Romeo (UChicago) Title: Scaling behavior and control of nuclear wrinkling Abstract: The cell nucleus is enveloped by a complex membrane, whose wrinkling has been implicated in disease and cellular aging. The biophysical dynamics and spectral evolution of nuclear wrinkling during multicellular development remain poorly understood due to a lack of […]

Nuclear chromodynamics: non-equilibrium phase transition in the nucleus of a living cell

CMSA Room G10 CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA, United States

Active Matter Seminar Speaker: Alexander Grosberg (NYU) Title: Nuclear chromodynamics: non-equilibrium phase transition in the nucleus of a living cell Abstract: Nucleus of a living cell houses a cell genome - a polymer called chromatin, which is a functional form of DNA.  It is very long, e.g., 2 meters long for every human cell.  Nucleus is […]

Active structures and flows in living cells

CMSA Room G10 CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA, United States

Active Matter Seminar Speaker: Michael Shelley (Flatiron) Title: Active structures and flows in living cells Abstract: Flows in the fluidic interior of living cells can serve biological function or act as signatures of how intracellular forces are exerted. I'll discuss examples of each. One is understanding the emergence of cell-spanning vortical flows in large developing egg […]

Directed motion in active matter: Frictiotaxis and flocking

CMSA Room G10 CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA, United States

Active Matter Seminar Speaker: Ricard Alert, Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems Title: Directed motion in active matter: Frictiotaxis and flocking Abstract: A key feature of active matter is its ability to move directionally, both as individual particles and collectively. I will discuss two examples of directed motion: one in cell migration, and one in collections of self-propelled colloids. […]

Decoding The Origins of Fluidity in Multicellular Systems

CMSA Room G10 CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA, United States

Active Matter Seminar Speaker: Max Bi (Northeastern University) Title: Decoding The Origins of Fluidity in Multicellular Systems Abstract: Organisms continually adapt to mechanical forces at the cellular and tissue levels, a process crucial for sustaining vital life functions. In pivotal physiological processes, such as cancer progression and embryonic development, tissues are often poised near solid-like […]

Shape morphing with swelling hydrogels and expanding foams

Hybrid - G10

Active Matter Seminar Speaker: Abby Plummer, Boston University Title: Shape morphing with swelling hydrogels and expanding foams Abstract: Materials that increase in size offer intriguing possibilities for shape-morphing applications. Here, we explore two such systems—swelling polyacrylamide hydrogels and expanding polyurethane foams. The hydrogels swell by absorbing water into crosslinked polymer networks. They can therefore be […]