Sourav Bhabeshsourav_1

I am interested in studying the statistical mechanics of a teetered graphene membrane. To study this I am working on a molecular dynamics code which I am writing in CUDA C to simulate a graphene membrane fixed in one side and placed in a temperature controlled bath. Further I will also look into the effect of slits and cuts made using graphene Kirigami techniques.

Faculty Advisor:  Mark Bowick

Prashant Mishra


My research focuses on understanding pattern formation and defect dynamics in active nematic suspension. In my previous work with Luca Giomi, Mark Bowick and Cristina Marchetti, I studied the role of topological defects as a source of motion in these active liquid crystals. Later, I focused on understanding different length scales in active nematics. Currently I am working with Oksana Manyuhina on modeling the dynamics of these nematics in confined boundary.

Faculty Advisors: Mark Bowick & Cristina Marchetti

Recent publication:  Lifshitz point and defect ordering in compressible active nematics, Accepted in Softmatter, Pragya Srivastava, Prashant Mishra, M. Cristina Marchetti

Francesco Serafin serafin

My current research interest is the statistical field theory of fluctuating two-dimensional membranes, in particular graphene sheets and liquid crystal vesicles. The goal is to characterise their phase diagram, find their equilibrium shape configurations, and compute their elastic properties, which arise from a rich interplay between topology and geometry. Recently, with Mark Bowick and Oksana Manyuhina, we have studied the ground-state shapes of vesicles coated with 3-fold symmetric liquid crystals. With Mark Bowick, Suraj Shankar and Michael Moshe, we are now exploring the role of grain boundaries in the transition between flat, buckled and crumpled phases of thin graphene sheets.

More generally, I’m interested in the role of topology in (quantum) field theories on curved manifolds, and the connections between gravity and condensed matter systems.

Faculty Advisor: Mark Bowick

Recent Publication:  “Shapes and singularities in triatic liquid crystal vesicles”  by Mark J. Bowick, Oksana V. Manyuhina, Francesco Serafin.  Published in Europhysics Letters 

Suraj Shankarshankar-suraj

I am broadly interested in soft condensed matter systems at the level of continuum descriptions usually involving broken symmetries, elasticity and field theories (both in and out of equilibrium). Two of my primary research directions as of now are active nematics (with Cristina Marchetti) and the mechanics of thin sheets, such as graphene (with Mark Bowick and Michael Moshe). Of particular interest is understanding the importance and relevance of topological defects and the density field in two dimensional active nematic systems, in the presence of non-linearities and fluctuations. On the other hand, with regard to graphene, we are trying to understand the effect of holes and slits (Kirigami) on both zero temperature mechanics and finite temperature statistical mechanics of buckling and crumpling in thin elastic sheets.

Faculty Advisor: Mark Bowick

Recent publicationProbing the shear viscosity of an active nematic film

Kazage Utujeutuje-kazage

Many developmental processes such as morphogenesis, wound healing and metastasis involve collective cell migration, which in turn requires long-range transmission of mechanical stresses. I am currently working on building a continuum model for both a spreading and a confined cell layer that couples elastic deformations and polarization to myosin based-cell activity.

Faculty Advisor:  Cristina Marchetti

Recent publicationsCellular Contraction and Polarization Drive Collective Cellular Motion,  Propagating Stress Waves During Epithelial Expansion

wolfe-aaronAaron Wolfe

Structural Biology, Biochemistry, and Biophysics (SB3)

I am currently engineering and manufacturing a biological nanopore to be used as a stochastic sensing element for double stranded DNA (DS DNA) at the single molecule level.  Hopefully, this engineered pore will become a unique tool that allows for high resolution, time resolved passage of DNA. Theoretically, the custom size of our engineered pore will slow the transport of the DS DNA from what has previously been accomplished thus allowing for the further understanding of the DNA in transit. This analysis will also provide detailed kinetics of DNA binding proteins at the single molecule level. Currently the Movileanu lab has engineered pores to facilitate the transport of RNA aptamers, peptides, and other interesting analytes resolved in single channel electrical recordings where the pore is embedded in an insulating lipid bilayer.

Faculty Advisor: Liviu Movileanu

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