2010 Buhl Lecture

  • William M. Gelbart
  • , Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California at Los Angeles

Viruses <i>From Scratch</i>

From influenza to hepatitis to AIDS, the insidious effects of viruses are known to everyone. Viruses are, after all, arguably the most prevalent and deadly disease agent. But few of us think of them as the most beautiful, symmetric and astonishing structures in biology. In this lecture viruses are discussed from a physical point of view, emphasizing their unique simplicity and what they all have in common. The simplest ones consist of just two different kinds of molecules and can be made ‰ÛÏfrom scratch‰Û in a test tube. But why were viruses only discovered a hundred years ago, and what allows them to evolve faster than any living organism?

Starting in the mid 1970s, William M. Gelbart was a pioneer in the then-emerging field of ‰ÛÏcomplex fluids,‰Û contributing significantly to the fundamental theory of liquid crystals, self-assembling systems, polymer solutions, nanoparticles and biological membranes.About 10 years ago he became intrigued by viruses and, with his colleague Charles M. Knobler, set out to understand their infectivityby investigating them outside their hosts and isolated in test tubes.Gelbart‰Ûªs interdisciplinary research has been recognized by many awards, including the 1991 Lennard-Jones Medal of the British Royal Society, a 1998 Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2001 Liquids Prize of the American Chemical Society and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. He is a long-time faculty member at UCLA, where he has won the University Distinguished Teaching Award, and has served as Chair of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Sponsored by: The Carnegie Mellon Department of Physics.
Information: 412.268.6681

This lecture is funded under the auspices of the Buhl Professorship in Theoretical Physics, which was established at Carnegie Mellon in 1961 by the Buhl Foundation in support of an outstanding theoretical scientist who would both impact theoretical research and help establish directions for experimental investigations.

For More Information, Please Contact: 
Catherine Copetas, copetas@cs.cmu.edu