The Physics of Living Matter

Ricard Alert is a new MPI-PKS research group leader and a new CSBD member

Ricard Alert is joining the CSBD as a new member. He is affiliated with the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems (MPI-PKS) and will set up his research group “The Physics of Living Matter” here in Dresden. With his group, Ricard will develop physical theories for materials that make up living systems. This includes theories of active matter and using them to describe the behavior of cells and tissues. For example, how cells coordinate mechanically within a tissue to develop into a particular shape during morphogenesis. Further topics of the research group are collective cell migration, self-organization in bacterial colonies, active turbulence, mechanochemical patterns in tissues, mechanically-regulated tissue growth, and active fluctuations in cells.

“I collaborate with biologists who do experiments. Ideally, they measure physical forces that drive developmental processes in the tissue, and I can then compare my theories with their measurements,” says Ricard. “In the future, I would like to collaborate here at the MPI-CBG and the CSBD, for example with the groups of Stephan Grill, Jan Brugués, and Otger Campàs, a group leader at the Cluster of Excellence Physics of Life at the TU Dresden.”

Ricard studied Physics and Biophysics at the University of Barcelona and received his Ph.D. in Physics in 2018, also from the University of Barcelona. He then moved to Princeton University as a postdoctoral fellow, before starting as a group leader at the MPI-PKS and the CSBD.