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Challenges in the Physics of Active and Biological Matter – Interplay Between Computer Simulations, Theory, and Experiments workshop is organized at Aalto University on 16th18th August 2023.


2023-04-24. Registration open. Registration form is here.

Registration and presentations

There is no participation or registration fee. If you want to contribute a poster to the event, please indicate in the registration form. Contributed applications will be notified of acceptance mid-June.

Registration form is here. Registration deadline is June 2nd, 2023. Number of participants is limited.

Location and arrival information

  • Lecture hall KE-2, Chemistry building, Aalto University, Finland
  • Street address: Kemistintie 1, 02150 Espoo, Finland. Link to map.

Link to Helsinki region public transportation guide

Poster information

  • Limited number of poster boards will be available to participants. If interested in presenting a poster, please indicate in registration (poster title, and brief content description required). Poster boards accommodate A0 portrait size posters.
  • If contributing a poster, please indicate in registration the title and send abstract to .

Microscopy image: Active Matter research group / Jaakko Timonen, Aalto University. Simulations visualization: Maisa Vuorte, Aalto University.

Workshop scope

Living and active matter, which include artificial, externally driven systems and natural biological ones, are currently under intense study. The study of such systems has been a rapidly evolving field in recent years, with significant advances in experimental and computational techniques. Despite intense interdisciplinary collaborations, developing computational and theoretical tools and identifying synergistic approaches still remain to be improved. Furthermore, there remain many open questions and challenges that require interdisciplinary approaches and collaborations to address. These include, for example:

(i) How biomolecular processes taking place at cell membranes give rise to the complexity of biological function, which is physically controlled mainly by electrostatic interactions, and where the effects of specific interactions between biomolecules compete with the effects of non-specific membrane-mediated interactions.

(ii) The emergence of order by means of self-organization in large assemblies of growing or motile cells, from confluent tissues to biofilms, poses significant challenges for scientists because of their ability to use energy sources to generate fluxes of matter or motility.

(iii) How synthetic active systems mimicking some of the behaviors of the biological ones can be rationally designed and harnessed for technological uses and to improve understanding of the more complex biological systems.

This workshop aims to bring together both experimental and theoretical researchers from physics, chemistry, biology, and related fields to discuss and explore current challenges in the physics of active and biological matter. Crucial to the success of our workshop will be the interaction between theoreticians and experimentalists to discuss the state-of-the-art computational, experimental and theoretical techniques used to study these systems, and to foster new connections between physicists, chemists and biologists working in the field of biological and active matter.

The workshop will cover a broad range of topics related to the physics of biological and active matter, including but not limited to

● Active and driven colloids, field-driven assembly.

● Non-equilibrium flows and electrohydrodynamics in soft matter.

● Dynamics and function of biomolecules and their complexes in the presence of membranes.

● Collective behavior of bacteria and biofilm organization: self-organization in bacterial colonies emerges from a complex interplay of growth, chemical signaling, nutrient gradients, and physical forces.

● Theoretical models of microswimmers and active particles with non-reciprocal interactions; controlling microswimmers and synthetic active particles with external fields.

● Methodology development, with the aim of rendering currently impossible research ideas possible, and simulation models as realistic as possible.

Program (*presentation scheduling may vary, ordering is tentative / to be confirmed). All talks in lecture hall KE-2 in the Chemistry building.

Wednesday 16.8.2023*
TimeSpeakerTitle of the talk / location
until 13:00
Arrival / self-organized lunch
Session 1 (Chair: Tapio Ala-Nissilä)
13:10-13:55 (+5 min)
Matilda Backholm, Aalto UniversityHow to measure swimming forces of living micro- to meso-organisms
14:00-14:25 (+5 min)*Kazusa Beppu, Aalto UniversityMagnetic control of orientational order and intrinsic hydrodynamic instability in bacterial turbulence
14:30-15:00Break until 15:00 (location: lobby outside the KE2 lecture hall)
Session 2 (Chair: Maria Sammalkorpi)
15:00-15:45 (+5 min)
Joakim Stenhammar, Lund UniversityCollective (hydro)dynamics of swimming microorganisms
15:50-16:15 (+5 min)*Max Philipp Holl, Aalto UniversityMotility-induced phenomena via Phase-Field-Crystal -Modelingmodeling
16:20-16:30Short break until 16:30
16:30-17:15 (+5 min)
Abhinav Sharma, Augsburg UniversityEmergent chemotaxis in active systems
17:20-19:15Poster session until 19:15 (location: lobby outside the KE2 lecture hall)

Thursday 17.8.2023
TimeSpeakerTitle of the talk
Session 3 (Chair: Jaakko Timonen)
09:00-9:45 (+5 min)
*Debasish Das, University of Strathclyde, UK

Mathematical modelling of active particles and drops powered by electric and magnetic fields

09:50-10:15 (+5 min)
*Ricardo Reyes Garza, Aalto UniversityTBA
10:20-10:50Break until 10:50 (location: lobby outside the KE2 lecture hall)
10:50-11:35 (+5 min)
Tyler Shendruck, University of EdinburghMesoscale simulations of active hydrodynamics
11:40-12:05 (+5 min)
Nikos Kyriakopoulos, Aalto UniversitySquare droplets and liquid lattices: non-equilibrium patterns and activity
12:10-13:30Self-organized lunch until 13:30
Session 3 (Chair: Marco Mazza)
13:30-14:15 (+5 min)
Isabella Guido, University of Surrey, UKBottom-up engineering of bioinspired active systems for biological activity
14:20-14:45 (+5 min)Fereshteh Sohrabi, Aalto UniversityMagnetic trapping of microalgae Chladymonas reinhardii
14:50-15:20Break until 15:20 (location: lobby outside the KE2 lecture hall)
Session 4 (Chair: Matilda Backholm)
15:20-15:45 (+5 min)
Carlo Rigoni, Aalto UniversityMagnetic instabilities at atypical interfaces
15:50-16:15 (+5 min)
Alberto Scacchi, Aalto UniversityModelling responsive aqueous two-phase systems
16:20-16:45 (+5 min)Jan Cammann, Loughborough UniversityActive Spaghetti: Collective Organization in Cyanobacteria
16:50-17:00Short break until 17:00
17:00-17:45 (+5 min)
Ralf Metzler, University of PotsdamTBA

19:00-21:00DinnerDetails to be confirmed

Friday 18.8.2023
TimeSpeakerTitle of the talk
Session 5 (Chair: Ilpo Vattulainen )
9:15-10:00 (+5 min)Martin Hof, J. Heyrovsky Institute of Physical Chemistry of the CAS
Why do gangliosides form nanodomains": An old question answered by combining Monte-Carlo FRET with MD Simulations
10:05-10:30 (+5 min)Mykhailo Girych, Helsinki UniversityHow drugs and cholesterol allosterically module TrkB receptor responsible for neuroplasticity
10:35-11:05Break until 11:05 (location: lobby outside the KE2 lecture hall)
11:05-11:30 (+5 min)*Gregory Beaune, Aalto UniversityTBA
11:35-12:00 (+5 min)Matti Javanainen, Helsinki UniversityInsight into the Protein Translocation Machinery from MD Simulations
12:05-12:50 (+5 min)Corey O'Hern, Yale University
Phase diagram for motility induced phase separation in active matter

13:00-Self-organized lunch, free discussions (lobby space available until 15:30pm)

Organizing committee

Tapio Ala-Nissilä, Aalto University, Finland

Marco Mazza, Loughborough University, UK

Maria Sammalkorpi, Aalto University, Finland

Jaakko Timonen, Aalto University, Finland

Ilpo Vattulainen, Helsinki University, Finland

Contact email: