European Research Council to support Biophysics and String Theory in DAMTP

Professor Ray Goldstein and Professor Michael Green have both been awarded Advanced Investigator Grants by the European Research Council.

The grant to Professor Goldstein, who is Schlumberger Professor of Complex Physical Systems, will support his work on "Physical Aspects of the Evolution of Biological Complexity." Professor Goldstein's group investigates the driving forces behind evolutionary transitions from single cell organisms, capable of all the functions of life, to multicellular organisms with specialised cell types. The highly interdisciplinary research involves both theory and experiment, using techniques ranging from statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics to fluid dynamics and molecular biology. The grant of 2.5MEuros will support postdoctoral researchers, visitors, and specialized experimental facilities.

The grant to Professor Green, recently appointed as the 18th Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, will support research by him and his colleagues in the DAMTP High Energy Physics Group into "Properties and Applications of the Gauge/Gravity Correspondence". This refers to a set of ideas that has grown out of string theory, according to which there is a fundamental correspondence between quantum gravity and gauge quantum field theories of the kind that describe the non-gravitational forces in the standard model of particle physics. This suggests that quantum gravity may be equivalent to a gauge theory in a lower number of space dimensions, potentially offering novel techniques for understanding highly curved gravitating systems. It also provides a new approach to understanding a range of strongly-coupled phenomena in condensed matter physics in terms of a gravitational description. The grant of 1.5MEuros will be used to support postdoctoral researchers and facilitate collaborations on various aspects of the correspondence.