Public Lecture: On the Possibility of Evolutionary Forecasting
Prof. Boris Shraiman is a distinguished theoretical physicist with background in statistical physics. He received his PhD in 1983 at Harvard, was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago and at Bell Labs before he became a Member of Technical Staff at Bell Labs in the Theoretical Physics Department at Murray Hill for 16 years. He worked on a broad range of physics problems from correlated electrons and superconductivity to pattern formation and turbulence. He started working on biology problems about 15 years ago, while at Bell Labs. He 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.
His current research interests are Morphogenesis, addressing the problem of “Growth and Form” in animal development, and Statistical Genetics, which aims to quantitatively describe evolutionary dynamics in populations. In both subjects his 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 his research.
As a permanent member of KITP Prof. Shraiman is also deeply involved with developing interdisciplinary programs at KITP aimed at building up the interdisciplinary physics/biology community.
In 2011 Boris Shraiman was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and he holds the endowed Susan F. Gurley Chair in Theoretical Physics and Biology at the KITP.
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