2020 Winter Conferences

  *Denotes physicist in charge of diversity
**Denotes a scientific advisor

January 5-10, 2020

New Physical Models for Cell Growth

*Ariel Amir, Harvard University
Meriem El Karoui, University of Edinburgh

In recent years our quantitative understanding of cellular growth - across all domains of life - has seen a “renaissance”, with a large number of both theoretical and experimental studies coming together to unravel and elucidate a plethora of novel phenomenon. Technological advances in both genetic manipulations, microscopy techniques and data acquisition and analysis have allowed us to generate datasets of unprecedented accuracy and size, providing a fertile ground for mathematical modeling.

Studying specific genes in isolation, via genetic and other types of perturbations, appears to be ill suited for understanding many growth-related problems, likely due to the strong interactions between the large number of cellular components, and interdisciplinary approaches are called for. In such an approach the theory would guide experiments in identifying the key variables, thus bridging the gap between the molecular details and the emergent behavior. Indeed, in many cases simple and universal “growth laws” are discovered, which appear to be robust and often shared across evolutionary divergent organisms

This conference will bring together scientists pursuing the state-of-the-art in mathematical modeling of cellular growth, aspiring to find broadly applicable mechanisms and answer fundamental questions in biology through the lens of physics and mathematics, developing new and exciting models.

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Condensed Matter Physics
January 12-17, 2020

Future Directions in Topological States of Matter: Beyond the Single Particle Picture

Claudia Felser, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids
*Philip Moll, Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne
*Brad Ramshaw, Cornell University
Adiel Stern, Weizmann Institute of Science

The introduction of concepts from topology has profoundly impacted our understanding of condensed matter, particularly the recent developments in topological insulators, semi-metals, and superconductors. Theoretical efforts have been highly successful at classifying and describing the topological invariants of single particle (non-interacting) systems. Less effort thus far has gone into considering how interactions may modify these classification schemes, and where the most fruitful intersections between correlations and topology may lie. This Aspen Winter Conference revolves around merging concepts of topology and strong electronic correlations.

The emergent field of correlated topology has seen recent profound advances in diverse subjects such as topological superconductivity, Kondo insulators, quantum magnetism, and engineered heterostructures of TMDs and twisted bilayer graphene.  The scientific focus of this conference will be on identifying the relevant questions in these newly married fields. What are the key observables associated with correlated topological states? What is the fate of the relativistic quantum anomalies, such as the chiral anomaly, in the presence of strong correlations? Will intrinsic topological superconductors or superconductor/semiconductor heterostructures form the more promising platform for experiments? What is the role of topological states in other correlated quantum states, such as Kondo insulators or heavy Fermion metals? Bringing together a diverse group of researchers, this workshop will explore how recent advances in topology can help solve longstanding problems in correlated electron physics, and how the merger of these two fields could lead to new fundamental states of matter and novel quantum devices.

For more information, please click here.

Condensed Matter Physics
February 2-7, 2020

Low Dimensional Solids in Hard and Soft Condensed Matter: Mechanics, Thermodynamics, and Electrons

Benjamin Davidovitch, University of Massachusetts
Andre Geim, Manchester University
Francisco Guinea, Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid
ChunNing Law, Ohio State University
*Eran Sharon, Hebrew University

In recent years, both “soft” and “hard” wings of the condensed matter community have witnessed a surge of interest in the fundamental physics of low-dimensional solids. Experimental and theoretical studies were triggered by the celebrated discovery of Graphene and other types of mono-layer crystals, as well as the ability to generate and manipulate polymer films whose thickness may be as small as few nanometers. In the hard condensed matter community, a primary focus of attention has been the unique electronic band structure of 2D solids, their consequent transport properties, and the possible probes they provide to topological matter. In the soft condensed matter community, attention has been focused on the anomalous elasticity induced by thermal fluctuations and disorder, and the geometrically-nonlinear instabilities exhibited by elastic solids sheets that are subjected to external constraints or posses nontrivial intrinsic geometry, and the relevance of this physics to the growth of tissues and organs, as well as the design of meta-materials.

The ultimate goal of this meeting is to develop a dialogue between these communities, and to inspire fruitful collaborations, stemming from this interface.

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February 8-13, 2020

Galaxy Quenching and Transformation 
Throughout Cosmic Time

*Mehmet Alpaslan, New York University
Rachel Bezanson, University of Pittsburgh
Robert Feldmann, University of Zurich
*Justin Spilker, University of Texas, Austin
Jeremy Tinker, New York University

The purpose of this Aspen Winter Conference is to bring together experts with a variety of observational and theoretical backgrounds to map out the path forward in our understanding of galaxy quenching. The physics behind galaxy quenching (both the shutdown of star formation and the structural transformation)  represents one of the most poorly understood processes in our framework of galaxy formation and evolution. Fundamental questions remain, and these questions will drive the focus of this meeting.

  • Defining the Question: What is quenching and what does it mean for a galaxy to be “quenched”? How does this definition vary through cosmic time and within different observational and theoretical communities?
  • Catching Quenching as it Happens: What are the most effective methods of identifying transitioning galaxies and linking pre- and post-quenching populations observationally?
  • Describing the Empirical Properties: What are the stellar and gas properties of galaxies before and after transformation? What is the relationship between the shut-down of star-formation (i.e., quenching), and structural or kinematic transformation?
  • Outlining the Physics: What are the candidate physical drivers of quenching and do the processes vary as a function of galaxy type? Are there ways that these different theoretical mechanisms can be distinguished observationally?
  • Quenching Timescale and Efficiency: Do these quantities vary with time or type of galaxy? What keeps galaxies quenched and how important is rejuvenation in their formation histories?
  • Quenching and the Dark Sector: What is the importance of dark matter on quenching? How does the galaxy-halo connection differ for quenched objects?
  • Quenching and the Interstellar Medium: What is the role of the ISM - the molecular gas content and star-formation efficiency - in driving galaxy quenching?

For more information, please click here.

Quantum Physics
February 17-22, 2020

Quantum Information and Systems for Fundamental Physics

Aaron Chou, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
Konrad Lehnert, University of Colorado, JILA
Brian Swingle, University of Maryland
*Kathryn Zurek, Caltech

The last decade has seen wonderful progress on fundamental physics, including both the discovery of the Higgs boson by the LHC and the direct detection of gravitational waves and black holes by LIGO. These successes increasingly highlight other fundamental challenges in physics ranging from understanding the nature of dark matter to unraveling the quantum physics of spacetime itself. At the same time, there have been dramatic improvements in our ability to manipulate complex quantum systems and a concomitant explosion in our theoretical understanding of the nature of information in a quantum universe. An exciting possibility raised by these two parallel developments is that quantum information and systems could provide a powerful new approach to questions in fundamental physics. Nevertheless, efforts in this direction are still nascent.

One set of ideas revolves around using engineered quantum systems to make ultra-precise measurements to directly detect faint dark matter signatures. Another set of ideas attempts to decode the way spacetime emerges from microscopic degrees of freedom using the language of entanglement, complexity, and computation. Given these and other early developments, the time is ripe for a meeting across communities to share ideas and look forward.  This Aspen Winter Conference will bring these communities together in a focused meeting to identify common goals and look for new opportunities. Such a meeting should be more productive than previously possible thanks to the new common language of quantum information and a new set of experimental tools of broad interest.

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Condensed Matter Physics
March 8-13, 2020

Quantum Matter: Computation Meets Experiments

Antoine Georges, Flatiron Institute
Emanuel Gull, University of Michigan
Gabriel Kotliar, Rutgers University
*Andrew Millis, Columbia University
Karin Rabe, Rutgers University

The past few years have seen tremendous advances in our understanding of strongly interacting quantum systems. By combining progress in theoretical concepts and methods with algorithmic advances, computational methods have shed new light on key open questions in the physics of quantum matter, both for materials with strong electronic correlations and for interacting quantum gases. At the same time, new materials and new techniques have greatly increased the range of experimental information available.

This Aspen Winter Conference will bring leading theorists with expertise in a broad range of computational methods together with experimentalists to discuss the potential of new methods, the accomplishments of existing methods and opportunities for future experiment/theory collaboration. The meeting will focus on a broad set of physics questions of current interest in the field, for which computational methods and experiments have brought or have the potential to bring new insights.

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