Overview

Biology, at its most fundamental, cannot reasonably be disentangled from physics.  Thermodynamics, hydrodynamics, statistical mechanics and soft-condensed matter physics,  rather than being distinct from biology are, in fact, the building blocks of all living matter.  As Goldenfeld and Woese [1] have argued for: even evolution, the conductor of life as we know it, is itself an emergent phenomena of classical physics.

When seen through the eyes of a physicist, however, biology is very hard.  Systems are driven, very far from equilibrium and typically involve enormous numbers of coupled degrees-of-freedom.  All of which is compounded by the fact that Occam's razor (that the simplest description is the right description) rarely works, because evolution ensures that biological mechanisms reflects their history as well as their current function.

We are therefore led to ask: can Science develop adequate, quantitative theories of living systems, such that experiment and theory work 'hand in glove' like much of modern fundamental physics?  This is the question that concerns us: we both apply and develops concepts from statistical and theoretical soft-condensed matter physics, as well as applied Mathematics, in order to describe living matter.

The focus spans a range of length-scales, from molecular signalling on a sub-cellular scale, to emergent phenomena at the tissue scale and beyond.  We work closely with experimental partners, typically studying systems in which an interplay between mechanics, geometry and information-processing is important.


[1] N. Goldenfeld & C. Woese, Annu. Rev. Condens. Matter Phys. 2:375–99 (2011)

Publications

Submitted:

 

Peer-reviewed journals:

 

  • R. G. Morris, “Signatures of mechanosensitive gating”, Biophys. J., 112(1) (2016). (published, preprint).

  • R. G. Morris and M. S. Turner, “Mobility measurements probe conformational changes in membrane proteins due to tension”, Phys. Rev. Lett., 115 198101 (2015). (published, preprint).

  • R. G. Morris and T. Rogers, “Growth-induced breaking and un-breaking of ergodicity in fully-connected spin systems”, J. Phys. A: Math. Theor. 47 342003 (2014).  (published, preprint).

  • R. G. Morris, “Relaxation and curvature-induced molecular flows within multicomponent membranes”, Phys. Rev. E 89 (6), 062704 (2014). (published, preprint).

  • F. Caltagirone, S. Franz, R. G. Morris and L. Zdeborovà, “Dynamics and termination cost of spatially coupled mean-field models”, Phys. Rev. E 89 (1), 012102 (2014). (published, preprint).

  • R. G. Morris and M. Barthelemy, “Interdependent networks: the fragility of control”, Sci. Rep. 3, (2013). (published, preprint).

  • R. G. Morris and M. Barthelemy, “Transport on coupled spatial networks”, Phys. Rev. Lett. 109 (12), 128703 (2012). (published, preprint).

  • R. G. Morris and A. J. McKane, “Stability of growing vesicles”, Phys. Rev. E 83 (6), 061151 (2011). (published, preprint).

  • R. G. Morris, D. Fanelli and A. J. McKane, “Dynamical description of vesicle growth and shape change”, Phys. Rev. E 82 (3), 031125 (2010). (published, preprint).

Peer reviewed contributions to books:

  • J. Jhawar, R. G. Morris, and V. Guttal, “Deriving Mesoscopic Models of Collective Behaviour for Finite Populations”, Handb. Stat. Integr. Popul. Biol. Model. Vol. 40, Part B (Elsevier, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2018), pp. 551–594. (published, preprint).

  • R. G. Morris and M. Barthelemy, (2014) “Spatial effects: transport on interdependent networks”, In: G. D'Agostino and A. Scala eds. “Networks of networks: the last frontier of complexity”, Springer, New York, 145-161. (published).

Commentary:

  • R. G. Morris and A. S. Yap, Wetting by Living Tissues”, Nat. Phys. 15:6-7 (2019). (published).

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