Notre Dame Chicago Commons host for the Interdisciplinary Workshop on the Physics of Bacterial Communities

Author: Melissa Ornat


The University of Notre Dame Chicago Commons hosted a Workshop on the Physics of Bacterial Communities on June 11-12, 2012. The primary focus of the workshop was on the fundamental understanding of physical mechanisms governing microbial actions, including cellular responses to chemical and physical perturbations, interactions between cells, and coordination of these events over time and spatial scales. The goal of the workshop was to bring together some of the leading researchers in biophysics, biology, applied mathematicians, and computational science from the United States and Europe to discuss the latest developments in the field of the physics of bacterial communities, including swarming, quorum sensing, cell signaling, and biofilm formation and effects of bacterial activity on environment and health. The composition of workshop participants was a mix of well-established scientists and young promising scientists in the beginning of their scientific careers.

The College of Science’s Rev. Julius A. Nieuwland Lecture Series, Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Biocomplexity, University of Notre Dame, and Argonne National Laboratory co-sponsored the event. Faculty and students from ACMS (formed in 2010 to expand Notre Dame’s research and educational programs that use mathematical, computational and statistical modeling) collaborate regularly with colleagues in an array of disciplines around the globe.


The event was the 11th Biocomplexity Workshop and the second away from the Notre Dame campus; with the Workshop being held at Notre Dame’s London Center the previous year. It included invited lectures and posters on biomedical topics such as multiscale modeling of bacterial dynamics, experimental studies of bacterial swarming in fluids and on substrates, and the effects of bacteria on environment and health.  Extended discussions followed each of the 22 talks with poster sessions held each day.

The workshop was opened by Dr. Peter Littlewood, Associate Laboratory Director for Physical Sciences and Engineering, ANL, and Prof. Sunny Boyd, Associate Vice President for Research, University of Notre Dame. They described the scientific programs at ANL and Notre Dame and emphasized the importance and benefits of the ANL-Notre Dame collaboration. Partnerships were encouraged between research institutions in the greater Chicago area, nationally and worldwide in the multifaceted field of bacterial dynamics, and, in broader perspective, bio-inspired materials.  

For a complete Workshop Report visit:

Originally published by Melissa Ornat at on June 28, 2012.