Biological and Soft Matter Physics

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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.

Research Scientist
Banu Ozkan
CBP Director - Professor
Robert Ros
Professor & Associate Chair of Space
Sara Vaiana
Associate Professor








Biology with X-ray Free Electron Lasers is a consortium established in 2013 of eight U.S. research universities that addresses fundamental questions in biology at the molecular level. Using a recently-invented pulsed hard X-ray laser, our researchers can capture biological molecules in atomic detail, view their functional motions by taking brief snapshots, and observe interactions in their native environment. This opens up a new world to biology, to science, and to human health.


The Center for Biological Physics


The Center for Biological Physics at ASU conducts research into biological phenomena using the tools and methodologies of physics. Our interests span biomolecules, systems biology and cellular dynamics. Our faculty have expertise in a wide range of experimental, theoretical and computational methods. We collaborate widely on both basic and applied research questions - from the fundamental principles of life, to translational research in biomedicine. We have a vibrant interdisciplinary environment, centered in a dedicated and interactive physical space in the physical sciences building.

Center For Biological Physics