Abhishek and Debasish, both soft matter physicist visited the Simons Centre from 7th June to 8th July, 2015. Right at the start, they introduced their research interest to the wider NCBS fraternity, in back-to-back talks on "Soft and Active Matter" (Debasish Chaudhuri) and "Dynamics of Biopolymers" (Abhishek Chaudhuri). Though they primarily interacted with Madan Rao and Vijay Krishnamurthy (ICTS-TIFR, Bangalore), they also had many intense discussions with Mukund Thattai, Sandeep Krishna, Sanjay Sane and others, and Amit Singh, Debsankar Banerjee and other PhD students. These discussions included topics such as, (i) influence of mechanical stresses at the cell surface on gene expression, (ii) transmission of information encoding the spatial organization of chromosomes across generations, (iii) role of multiplicative noise in active hydrodynamics, (iv) pattern formation in confined termites under shaking, (v) chiral symmetry breaking in active hydrodynamics, (vi) role of active mechano-chemical processes in the processing and transfer of information and distributed computing.
With Madan Rao and Vijay Krishnamurthy, they worked on how spatially varying mechanical signals could propagate from the cell surface to the nucleus by treating the cytoplasm as an active elastomer with turnover of components (an appropriate description at short time scales). The idea is that this description will naturally give rise to force-chains, which might explain the sensitivity to changes in mechanical signal applied at the cell surface. This work is still under progress and they will continue their collaboration on this and the many other ideas that came up during this visit.