William Gelbart To Give the 2010 Buhl Lecture on April 28-Dept of Physics - Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, April 23, 2010

William Gelbart To Give the 2010 Buhl Lecture on April 28

Viruses "From Scratch", 4:30 p.m. Mellon Institute Auditorium

William Gelbart, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, Los Angeles, will give the 2010 Buhl lecture on Wednesday, April 28 at 4:30 p.m. in the Mellon Institute Auditorium, 4400 Fifth Avenue.  His talk, entitled "Viruses From Scratch", is free and open to the public. Reception immediately following in the Mellon Institute Lobby.

Abstract: 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 "from scratch" in a test tube. But why were viruses only discuvered a hundred years ago, and what allows them to evolve faster than any living organism?

Starting in the mid 1970's, William M. Gelbart was a pioneer in the then-emerging field of "complex fluids," contributing significantly to the fundamental theory of liqud 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 infectivity by investigating them outside their hosts and isolated in test tubes. Gelbart's 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. For more information, please contact 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.