James P. Sethna
Professor of Physics
BA, 1977, Physics, Harvard University. PhD , 1981, Princeton University. Postdoctoral research associate, Cornell University, 1981-84. Postdoctoral research associate, Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of California at Santa Barbara, 1981-84. Assistant Professor, Physics, Cornell University, 1984-89. Associate Professor, Phsyics, Cornell University, 1989-95. Professor, Physics, Cornell University, 1995-present. Member, Fields of Applied Mathematics, 1996-present, Computational Biology, 2006-present, Computational Science and Engineering, 2006-present. Theoretical and Applied Mathematics (2010-present). Sloan Research Fellow, 1985. Presidential Young Investigator Award, 1985.
Materials science, including crackling noise and avalanches in magnetic systems, tweed in shape-memory alloys, accelerated simulations of surface growth, Arrhenius law for double jumps; glasses, including metallic glasses, low temperature glasses, slow relaxation, and scaling theories of the glass transition; disordered systems, including Griffiths phase in spin glasses, spin glasses on the Bethe lattice, sliding charge-density waves; liquid crystals; Blue Phases as networks of defect lines and in curved space; boojums in chiral smectic films; quantum instanton methods for atomic tunneling; early Berry's phase work in high-temperature superconductors; atomic tunneling from an STM/AFM tip; theory of vortex core states in superconductors; dynamical systems, including transition to chaos from quasiperiodic motion using renormalization group; noise in crumpling paper
We've recently been interested in common, universal features we find in nonlinear optimization problems with many parameters; these sloppy models came up in our biological work on signal transduction. In materials physics, we have a new theory of dislocation dynamics in metals - explaining the formation both of grain boundies and dislocation patterns as singularities formed by the dynamics, similar to the shock wave singularities in sonic booms and traffic jams. We are also continuing research on crackling noise, both in magnetic systems and in plastically deformed metals. Finally, we have discovered that the statistical mechanics of phase transitions are useful in exploring the biophysical dynamics of both DNA and membranes.
Yan-Jiun Chen, Ashivni Shekhawat, Alex Alemi, Ricky Chachra, Matt Bierbaum and Isabel Kloumann