Pattern Formation in Physics and Biology

Coordinators: Eberhard Bodenschatz, Nigel Goldenfeld, Peter Jung, Herbert Levine, Steven J. Schiff

The purpose of the program is to bring together scientists from established fields in the pattern formation of physical, chemical, and biological systems, so as to provide an environment that promotes the exchange of ideas, techniques and modeling approaches across traditional boundaries. The envisioned outcome is the establishment of new research directions in the investigation of complex spatio-temporal dynamics in condensed matter physics, biology, and medicine. The program will be guided by the following questions:

  1. Can we understand many-component, complex, spatio-temporal phenomena in spatially extended nonlinear systems? When studied in detail, is it indeed true that complex systems can be the result of simple dynamics? How are complexity hierarchies generated dynamically?
  2. What are well-characterized examples where pattern formation accomplishes biological function?
  3. What features and dynamical principles carry over from traditional pattern formation to biological systems?
  4. What mathematical, numerical techniques and experimental approaches are most suitable to study the characterization and dynamics of spatially extended systems?
  5. How can we treat the discreteness and intrinsic noise of pattern forming systems? What continuum approaches should we use and how powerful are they?
  6. Where are there examples from human disease where the pathological process may be related to the physics of abnormal pattern formation? Might pattern control lead to novel therapies?

The program will have three main sections, focusing on the key themes of spatially extended systems, excitable media and interfacial pattern formation. Common to all themes will be the goal of blending pattern formation physics and established techniques in traditional physical media with our evolving knowledge of pattern development in biological systems and its application to medicine.

Please visit the preliminary program page