Research in Physics of Soft and Living Matter is highly interdisciplinary lying at the interface between physics, biology, chemistry and engineering. Soft and Living Matter (SLM) is easily reconfigurable, often out of equilibrium, and includes both inert examples, such as liquid crystals and bio-polymers, and living examples ranging from cells and tissues, to bird flocks and networks of neurons. SLM systems are typically heterogeneous, carry information and are capable of self-organization and evolution. Theory of the SLM builds on and extends the ideas of Statistical Physics and Dynamical Systems Theory, while the experimental study of SLM combines the tools and techniques of Physics with those from Biology and Chemistry. Experiment and Theory in this field are closely intertwined.

Typical approaches are characterized by

  • taking inspiration from the living world to design active materials capable of performing specific functions
  • using physics ideas and concepts to answer important biological questions
  • identifying spatial and temporal patterns to discover mechanisms for self-organization and emergent behavior
  • studying biological phenomena to discover novel physics.
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Learn more about cutting edge research that combines state-of-the-art experiments with theory to identify physical principles in biology.


Rapidly growing curriculum for undergraduate and graduate students intersted in biological physics and materials.

Collaborations and Activities

Santa Barbara Advanced School of Quantitative Biology
Bio Programs at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics.