Jörn Dunkel

2023 Polymaths Award Winner

Dr. Jörn Dunkel is a Professor of Physical Applied Mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His interdisciplinary research group is comprised of applied mathematicians, theoretical physicists, mechanical and chemical engineers, and computational biologists. Dr. Dunkel’s current research focuses on understanding the self-organization principles that govern complex physical and biological systems. To this end, his group combines and applies concepts and techniques from different areas of mathematics, including topology, differential geometry, statistics and dynamical systems inference. One of their main goals is to translate high-dimensional live-imaging data into interpretable mathematical models that make it possible to characterize, classify and predict the collective dynamics of multicellular systems and animal groups. This work is pursued in close collaboration with leading experimental labs in the fields of microbiology, developmental biology, neurobiology, and biophysics. Recent research interests within the Dunkel group encompass a broad spectrum of topics, ranging from investigating the relationship between gene expression, metabolic activity, and emergent growth and locomotion dynamics in bacterial biofilms and swarms, to formulating efficient theoretical descriptions of embryonic tissue dynamics and neuromechanical behaviors in higher organisms. Visit the Dunkel Lab website for more information on their work. 

Planned Polymaths Work: Dr. Dunkel’s group plans to develop and explore non-traditional mathematical and computational approaches toward describing and predicting collective self-organization processes and information transport in living and other complex systems.