Boris Shraiman

I am a theoretical physicist with background in statistical physics. PhD 1983 Harvard, postdoctoral fellow at U. Chicago and Bell Labs; Member of Technical Staff at Bell Labs, in the Theoretical Physics Department at Murray Hill for 16 years. Worked on a range of physics problems from correlated electrons and superconductivity to pattern formation and turbulence. Started working on biology problems about 15 years ago, while at Bell Labs. Moved to the present position as a Permanent Member of KITP and a Professor in the UCSB Dept of Physics in 2004, after two years as a Physics Professor at Rutgers.

Current research interests are in:

  1. Morphogenesis, addressing the problem of “Growth and Form” in animal development.
  2. Statistical Genetics, which aims to quantitatively describe evolutionary dynamics in populations.

In both subjects my work focuses on the role of interactions. In the case of morphogenesis, these are interactions between cells; in the case of population genetics, the interactions are between genetic polymorphisms. The study of “interactions” both in the developmental biology and in population genetics contexts brings up unexpected but direct and useful connections with statistical physics. Discovering, exploring and exploiting these connections in order to develop new understanding of the biological problems, is the main goal of my research.

As a permanent member of KITP I am also deeply involved with developing interdisciplinary programs at KITP aimed at building up the interdisciplinary physics/biology community.