Theoretical Physics of Complex Systems
Group leader: Dr. Greg Stephens

Dr. Greg Stephens

The physics of living behavior

Working at the interface of physics and biology, our group explores a diverse set of problems ranging from the motion of small organisms to the dynamics of human cognition.  We leverage cross-disciplinary experimental collaborations to combine novel measurements with theoretical principles drawn from statistical physics, information theory and dynamical systems. In the natural wiggling of the roundworm C. elegans we derived a low-dimensional but complete basis of worm shape (eigenworms) which we are exploiting to construct a systems biophysics on the scale of an entire multi-cellular organism. In human neuroscience, we developed a computational approach based on the coupled neural dynamics of multiple brains engaged in natural communication.  In all of our efforts, unlike traditional approaches that restrict behavior or it’s neural correlates from the outset, we use the variation of biological systems under natural conditions to search directly in the data for simple, functional understanding.

Contact: Dr. Greg Stephens, email g.j.stephens@vu.nl 

 

A possible bachelor project: Is the information content of transcription factors sufficient to regulate gene expression in various organisms?