Postdoctoral positions availableRESEARCH INTERESTS
Theoretical methods of statistical mechanics are developed and applied
at Rice to study the collective properties of biological systems. Both
computational and analytical methods are of interest. Natural systems from
our world and engineered systems from biotechnology offer a wide variety
of phenomena for study. New field-theoretic techniques, new computer
simulation methods, and new random energy models have resulted. Current
areas of interest include
Newton's laws of biology.
Theory of personalized critical care.
Physical theories of pathogen evolution.
Vaccine design: Immune response to variable or
multi-strain viruses and vaccines.
Structure, nucleation, and function of zeolites.
Of particular interest are those biological issues involving
randomness, diversity, and correlations. The group has developed methods to
quantify vaccine effectiveness and antigenic distance for influenza,
methods to sculpt the immune system to mitigate immunodominance in dengue
fever, a physical theory of the competition that allows HIV to escape
from the immune system, the first exact solution of a mathematical
model of evolution that accounts for cross-species genetic exchange,
approach to protein molecular evolution, a `thermodynamic' formulation
of evolution, and a theory for how biological modularity spontaneously
arises in an evolving system.
The adaptive immune response to viruses and vaccines
is studied with a variety of random energy models.
Field theories are used to analyze physical theories
In the materials field, the group has developed a number
of widely-used Monte Carlo methods in structure, nucleation, and
function of zeolites and remains interested in these areas.
Our research is supported by
the Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences
and the Welch Foundation.