"Are You a Solid or a Fluid?"

Tuesday, November 13, 2018
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM (ET)
Event Type
Susan Penn
Distinguished Visitors-Physics

Distinguished Visitor Lisa Manning, associate professor of physics, Syracuse University

Your body is amazing. The instructions for its construction are encoded in only two cells, yet trillions of cells have ended up in more or less the right place. So what governs the motion of cells inside a living organism, and what goes wrong in disease?  It turns out that some of these questions can be answered by thinking of tissues in your body as a “living material”.  A tissue’s material properties – whether it is a fluid or a solid, or whether it has surface tension  – are key for its biological function. Therefore, an important open question is how single cells might control global properties, such as tissue fluidity. In normal materials, fluids can be turned into solids by changing the temperature or pressure. Cells can’t control these variables – instead they tune their stickiness and activity. I will discuss a theoretical framework we have developed to describe how organisms might control the fluid-to-solid transition, and show that it makes useful predictions about experiments relevant to cancer, asthma, and developmental diseases. 

M. Lisa Manning is an Associate Professor of Physics at Syracuse University. She is an award-winning interdisciplinary scientist studying the mechanical properties of biological tissues and the failure of disordered materials. Her work to understand how the global properties of tissues impact cell migration and pattern formation provides new insight into biological processes such as embryonic development, wound healing, and cancer. Her work to understand the fundamental excitations in disordered solids generates better predictive models for flow and failure in materials from emulsions to glasses to earthquake faults.   

She earned her B.S. in Physics and B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Virginia in 2002, before attending graduate school at UC Santa Barbara, where she earned a Ph.D. in Physics in 2008, advised by Jean Carlson and James Langer. She worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science from 2008 until she joined faculty at Syracuse University in 2011. Prof. Manning has given over 100 invited talks and published 33 peer-reviewed articles. She was recently highlighted as one of Science News “Top 10 Scientists under 40” to watch, and has received additional honors and awards including the 2018 Maria Goeppert Mayer Award from the American Physical Society, the 2016 IUPAP Young Investigator Prize, a Simons Investigator award, a Sloan Fellowship, a Scialog award, as well as several teaching awards.  As an NSF CAREER awardee and a Cottrell Scholar, she has also developed innovative programs to help recruit and retain a diverse group of scientists in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields.   

Tea at 4:15 p.m.

Sponsored by the Department of Physics and Astronomy in conjunction with the Distinguished Visitors Program 

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