Invited speakers

Introduction to the invited speakers at this event.

Anna Balazs, University of Pittsburgh, USA

Title: Designing soft matter capable of sensing, actuation and communication

Anna C Balazs is the Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and the Robert von der Luft Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. She received her B.A. in physics from Bryn Mawr College and her Ph.D. in materials science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After postdoctoral work in the Polymer Science Department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, she joined the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh.  Her research involves developing theoretical and computational models to capture the behavior of polymeric materials, nanocomposites and multi-component fluids.  Balazs is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the Materials Research Society.  She was a Visiting Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Oxford University in 2000-2001 and 2007-2008.  She served on a number of editorial boards, including: Macromolecules, Langmuir, Accounts of Chemical Research, and Soft Matter.  She was Chair of the American Physical Society Division of Polymer Physics in 1999-2000. She received a Special Creativity Award from the National Science Foundation. In 2003, she received the Maurice Huggins Memorial Award of the Gordon Research Conference for outstanding contributions to Polymer Science.  Recently, she received the Royal Society of Chemistry S F Boys-A Rahman Award (2015), the American Chemical Society Langmuir Lecture Award (2014) and the Mines Medal from the South Dakota School of Mines (2013).


Mike Cates, University of Cambridge, UK

Title: Guided assembly of active colloidal particles

Mike Cates is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. Previously he held the Chair of Natural Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh from 1995 to 2015.  He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2007 and made a Royal Society Research Professor the same year.  He has won the Weissenberg Award of the European Society of Rheology and the Gold Medal of the British Society of Rheology.  Prof Cates' research addresses the statistical mechanics and flow behaviour of soft materials, especially those that are far from equilibrium even at rest. These include soft glasses and also a wide variety of living matter as well as biomimetic "active colloids". Current interests include the shear thickening transition of very dense suspensions and the collective behaviour of solutions of self-propelled particles, particularly the phenomenon of "motility-induced phase separation".


Jochen Guck, Technische Universitat Dresden, Germany

Title: Feeling for function - mechanical phenotyping at 100 cells/sec

Jochen Guck received his PhD in Physics from the University of Texas at Austin in 2001. After several years as a group leader at the University of Leipzig (Germany), he moved to the Cavendish Laboratory of the University of Cambridge as a Lecturer in 2007 and was promoted to Reader in Biophysics in 2009. Since 2012 he is Professor of Cellular Machines at the Biotechnology Center of the Technische Universität Dresden (Germany).  His research centers on exploring the global physical properties of biological cells and tissues and their importance for the cells' function and behaviour.  He also develops novel photonic microfluidic and scanning-force probe techniques for the study of these optical and mechanical properties.  The ultimate goal is utilizing this insight for novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.  His work has been recognised by several awards, amongst them the Cozzarelli Award of the National Academy of Sciences in 2008, the Paterson Prize and Medal of the Institute of Physics in 2011 and an Alexander-von-Humboldt Professorship in 2012.  He is an editor of the Biophysical Journal.


Lucio Isa, ETH Zurich, Switzerland 

Title: Soft particle monolayers at fluid interfaces: structure, rheology and applications

Prof. Dr. Lucio Isa was born in Milan (Italy) in 1979.  In 2004 he completed his university studies in Nuclear Engineering with a Mathematics and Physics specialization at the Milan Polytechnic, obtaining a Master's degree with honours (100/100 cum laude) with a research project on thermal diffusion of colloidal suspensions with Prof. Roberto Piazza.  He then moved on to obtain a PhD in Soft Matter Physics at the University of Edinburgh in 2008 (Prof. Wilson Poon) where he worked on flow and deformation of dense colloidal glasses.  His PhD work was awarded in two occasions (Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher 2007 Award and the British Society of Rheology 2008 Vernon Harrison Award for the most outstanding UK PhD rheology thesis in the academic year 2007/2008). After a short postdoctoral spell in Edinburgh he moved to the Materials Department of ETH Zurich at the end of 2008 to work on self-assembled materials in the Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology (Profs. Nicholas D. Spencer and Marcus Textor). During his time at ETH Zurich he was awarded a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship, an SNSF travel grant as visiting scientist to the University of California Santa Barbara (Prof. Todd Squires) and as SNSF Ambizione Fellowship aimed at studying various aspects of micro and nanoparticle self-assembly at liquid interfaces.  Since September 1st 2013 he is heading the Laboratory for Interfaces, Soft matter and Assembly in the Department of Materials at ETH Zurich as SNSF Assistant Professor.

Prof. Isa is a co-founder of Swiss Soft Days, an initiative aimed at creating a national network of scientists working in Soft Matter in Switzerland and he is the 2015 recipient of the Soft Matter Lectureship award.


Gijsje Koenderink, FOM Institute AMOLF, Amsterdam, the Netherlands 

Title: A soft matter perspective on the living cell

Prof. Dr. Gijsje Koenderink was born in Utrecht (the Netherlands) in 1974.  In 1998 she completed her university studies in Chemistry at Utrecht University, obtaining a Master's degree with highest honours (cum laude).  Her Master thesis was awarded with the Unilever Research Prize (1999).  She did her PhD at the Van't Hoff Laboratory for Physical and Colloid Chemistry at Utrecht University, working with Prof. Albert Philipse. She finished her PhD in 2003 with a thesis entitled "Rotational and translational self-diffusion in colloidal mixtures".  Her PhD work was awarded with a DSM Award for Chemistry and Technology (2002) and Van Arkel Award of the Dutch Royal Society of Chemistry (2003).  After her PhD, she switched her interests in the direction of cellular biophysics.  She did a 1-year postdoc at the Vrije Universiteit (Amsterdam) with Prof. Christoph Schmidt, followed by another 2-year postdoc at Harvard University with Prof. Dave Weitz (2003-2006).  Her postdoctoral work was funded by a FOM/v fellowship from FOM/NWO and by a Marie Curie OIF fellowship (FP6).  In October 2006, she moved to the Systems Biophysics Department at the FOM Institute AMOLF, to start her own group "Biological Soft Matter" focusing on self-organization and dynamics of cells and tissues.  Since August 2014 she is heading the Systems Biophysics department.  She is the recipient of a Human Frontier Young Investigator Grant (2008), VIDI award of NWO (2008), and ERC Starting Grant (2013).  Moreover, she was an elected member of the Young Academy (DJA), which is part of the Dutch Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) from 2008-2013.  She is an editorial board member of Biophysical Journal and the European Physical Journal E.

Ron Larson, University of Michigan, USA

Title: Mesoscale simulations of complex, and living fluids

Ronald Larson is the GG Brown Professor of Chemical Engineering and the AH White Distinguished University Professor at the University of Michigan.  He arrived at the University of Michigan in 1996, after working for 17 years at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey.  He received a B.S in 1975, an M.S. in 1977 and a Ph.D. in 1980, all in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota. He served as Chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan from 2000 to 2008, and was Interim Chair of the Biomedical Engineering Department from Sept., 2013 through August 2014.  He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).  Larson's research interests include the structure and flow properties of viscous or elastic fluids, sometimes called "complex fluids", which include polymers, colloids, surfactant-containing fluids, liquid crystals, and biological macromolecules such as DNA, proteins and lipid membranes.


Online registration is now closed


Deadline date for online accommodation booking is 1 April 2016

Key dates

  • Abstract submission deadline: [EXTENDED]
    29 January 2016
  • Early registration deadline:
    9 March 2016
  • Registration deadline:
    28 March 2016