Biological and Soft Matter Physics

We study the underlying principles involved in the machinery of living things from the molecular to the cellular level as we search for unifying themes both within and between organisms. Our research is conducted in a multi-disciplinary environment at the interface of physics, biology, chemistry, engineering, computational sciences and nanoscience.


Living organisms are made from materials unique to life: nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids. They perform their biological function in a complex interface made of membranes, biopolymers, and aqueous solutions. Explaining how these molecules interact to sustain a living cell drives developments in theoretical statistical and soft matter physics, experimental instrumentation, and computational methods. Theoretical and experimental faculty work together to tackle key questions bridging vast length and time scales, ranging from how proteins self-assemble, the dynamics of single molecules, how cells process information up to neural networks and diseases affecting the whole body. We make sense of seemingly intractable biological phenomena by performing quantitative experiments, theoretical modeling, and computer simulations and search for deeper unifying theoretical principles.

Why Biological and Soft Matter Physics at ASU?

We bridge biology and physics and work at the interface with chemistry, engineering, computational sciences and nanotechnology. You will be part of one of the largest biological/soft matter physics groups within a single department in the US, which provides a critical mass for vibrant intellectual exchanges, seminars, and multiple opportunities for diverse research projects.

Multiple nationally recognized centers and faculty from other schools affiliated with us contribute to our broad range of expertise, encompassing experimental, theoretical, and computational efforts.