Interdisciplinary Challenges in Nonequilibrium Physics

VIRTUAL EDITION: The workshop will be held online and will consist of Zoom talks and a poster session. More info on the schedule in the "Schedule" section

Deadline for Registration: 31.03.2021
Deadline for Poster upoload: 06.04.2021

Please contact one of the organizers for the registration. If you want to present a poster in the poster session, please upload your abstract using the "Submit your talk" button in the personal section, available after registration.

Non-equilibrium processes play important and often vital roles at many length- and time-scales, ranging from those characteristic of the organisation of the cell nucleus to those relevant for the flocking of birds. Non-equilibrium statistical mechanics encompasses fundamental tools that are actively being developed and refined to understand such complex phenomena. A crucial factor that has hindered, so far, the formulation of a unified approach to nonequilibrium is the variety of different ways in which various systems can be out of equilibrium. Biological living complexes, glasses or active matter, represent such different systems and pose different challenges that are generally approached from different perspectives.

A key step to improve our understanding of universal non-equilibrium mechanisms at play across scales is to discuss and compare different ideas coming from all different research fields. The meeting will focus on finding a common denominator for theoretical, computational and experimental approaches, so to maximally promote collaborations and knowledge exchange among early career researchers.

We envisage 4 sessions focussing on the following topics: 1) biophysics & polymers, 2) active matter, 3) non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, 4) glasses & disordered systems.

These selected topics are at the forefront of the application of  statistical mechanics of non-equilibrium phenomena and represent areas where a significant conceptual progress has been achieved.

Session 1 will cover problems in biophysics and polymers. Polymers are ubiquitous at the cellular level, from the cytoskeleton to the DNA. Contrarily to polymer scientists, tough, biophysicists need to work in the complex environment of the cell, involving elements such as molecular machines that drive the system out of equilibrium. It is important thus for them to be able to combine and utilize the concepts coming from polymer science, active matter and non-equilibrium statistical physics [1]. One important open problem that will be addressed in the workshop is how the genome is organised inside the nucleus of the cells [2-4].

Session 2 will cover active matter, a research area that has attracted high interest in the last decade. Active matter is typically defined as consisting of particles able to pump energy from their environment and convert it into autonomous motion, making the system out-of-equilibrium. Thus, all living systems constitute examples of active matter due to a continual rate of energy consumption at microscopic level (e.g. ATP-to-ADP chemical reactions). One important question we aim to discuss is the effect of the surrounding environment on the non-equilibrium collective behaviour displayed by active systems [5,6], from swimmers in viscoelastic media [7] to topologically protected modes in active fluids [8].

Session 3 will provide theoretical tools and methods from the field of non-equilibrium statistical mechanics to deal with complex non-equilibrium phenomena. Transport and molecular machines will be at the heart of this session, with theoretical discussions on efficiency bounds, simulations of confined systems as well as the application of stochastic thermodynamics to the design of efficient machines, relevant  for simple colloidal systems and active molecular processes [9-11].

Session 4 will cover the physics of glasses and dynamical slowing down. This includes systems with complex patterns of relaxation and emerging properties: liquids at very low temperature or dense assemblies of colloidal particles under external stresses, as well as systems in crowded environments such as confined protein systems [12-15]. Their response to non-equilibrium conditions (e.g. during ageing or external/internal driving) is one of the core questions in this area of research, connecting to a variety of competing theoretical scenarios and other fields such as rheology, biophysics and computer science [16].   

These topics have been chosen so as to cover a broad spectrum of different research directions in which non-equilibrium physics plays a major role and that display some degree of overlap. This is to ensure: (i) smooth transitions between the sessions, thus conveying the idea that all these topics are interconnected, (ii) stimulating cross-talks among invited speakers from all sessions and (iii) opportunities for the participants to discuss ideas and take them further in the form of new collaborations (independent of their respective PIs) or joint applications for research grants.


[1] Le, Y., Ravasio, R., Brito, C. & Wyart, M., (2017). Architecture and coevolution of allosteric matter. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Mar, 114 (10)

[2] Brackley, C. A., Johnson, J., Michieletto, D., Morozov, A. N., Nicodemi, M., Cook, P. R., & Marenduzzo, D. (2018). Extrusion without a motor: a new take on the loop extrusion model of genome organization. Nucleus, 9(1), 95-103.

[3] Gibcus, J. H., Samejima, K., Goloborodko, A.,Samejima, I., Naumova, N., Nuebler, J., Kanemaki, M. T., Xie, L., Paulson, J. R., Earnshaw, W. C., Mirny, L. A., Dekker, J., (2018), A pathway for mitotic chromosome formation, Science, 359, 6376.

[4] Tan, L., Xing, D., Chang, C. H., Li, H., & Xie, X. S. (2018). Three-dimensional genome structures of single diploid human cells. Science, 361(6405), 924-928.

[5] Zampetaki, A., Schmelcher, P., Löwen, H., & Liebchen, B. (2019). Taming polar active matter with moving substrates: directed transport and counterpropagating macrobands. New Journal of Physics, 21(1), 013023.

[6] Ramananarivo, S., Mitchel, T., & Ristroph, L. (2019). Improving the propulsion speed of a heaving wing through artificial evolution of shape. Proceedings of the Royal Society A, 475(2221), 20180375.

[7] Zöttl, A., & Yeomans, J. M. (2019). Enhanced bacterial swimming speeds in macromolecular polymer solutions. Nature Physics, 1.

[8] Banerjee, D., Souslov, A., Abanov, A. G., & Vitelli, V. (2017). Odd viscosity in chiral active fluids. Nature communications, 8(1), 1573.

[9] Pietzonka, P., & Seifert, U. (2018). Universal trade-off between power, efficiency, and constancy in steady-state heat engines. Physical Review Letters, 120(19), 190602.

[10] Puertas, A. M., Malgaretti, P., & Pagonabarraga, I. (2018). Active microrheology in corrugated channels. The Journal of chemical physics, 149(17), 174908.

[11] Bain, N., & Bartolo, D. (2019). Dynamic response and hydrodynamics of polarized crowds. Science, 363(6422), 46-49.

[12] Truzzolillo, D., Sennato, S., Sarti, S., Casciardi, S., Bazzoni, C., & Bordi, F. (2018). Overcharging and reentrant condensation of thermoresponsive ionic microgels. Soft matter, 14(20), 4110-4125.

[13] Lattuada, E., Buzzaccaro, S. and Piazza, R., 2016. Colloidal swarms can settle faster than isolated particles: enhanced sedimentation near phase separation. Physical review letters, 116(3), p.038301.

[14] Parisi, G., Procaccia, I., Rainone, C. and Singh, M., 2017. Shear bands as manifestation of a criticality in yielding amorphous solids. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(22), pp.5577-5582.

[15] Jabbari-Farouji, S., Lame, O., Perez, M., Rottler, J. and Barrat, J.L., 2017. Role of the intercrystalline tie chains network in the mechanical response of semicrystalline polymers. Physical review letters, 118(21), p.217802.

[16] Berthier, L.  & Ediger, M. Facets of Glassy Physics, Physics Today 69, 1, 40 (2016)


April 12, 2021
15:00 — 16:15

Meet and Greet Round Presentation

16:50 — 17:15
Helena Massana-Cid (U Roma 1, Sapienza)
Guiding photokinetic bacteria with dynamic light patterns
17:15 — 18:15
Poster Session

Meet at

April 13, 2021
15:00 — 15:25
15:25 — 15:50
16:25 — 16:50
17:15 — 18:15
Get Together

Meet at

April 14, 2021
15:00 — 15:25
15:25 — 15:50
Domenico Truzzolillo (U Montpellier)
Vitrification and yielding of soft colloids
16:25 — 16:50
Sophie Ramananarivo (École Polytechnique, Palaiseau)
Boosted annealing of colloidal monolayers driven by active dopants
16:50 — 17:15
17:15 — 18:15
Get Together

Meet at

April 15, 2021 April 16, 2021
15:00 — 15:25
Anton Souslov (U Bath)
Active elastocapillarity
15:50 — 16:15
Benno Liebchen (TU Darmstadt)
Optimal Navigation of Microswimmers
16:25 — 16:50
16:50 — 17:15
Davide Michieletto (U Edinburgh)
Topologically Active Polymers
17:15 — 18:15
Get Together

Meet at


Name Affiliation
Demian Levis University of Barcelona
Emanuele Locatelli University of Vienna
Jan Smrek University of Vienna
Francesco Turci University of Bristol


Name Affiliation
Kishor Acharya University of Luxembourg
Natasa Adzic University of Vienna
Elisabeth Agoritsas EPFL, Lausanne
Alejandro Almodóvar Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Physics and Complex Systems
Katarina Bodova Comenius University
Chris Brackley University of Edinburgh
Stanislav Burov Bar Ilan University
Francesco Cagnetta EPFL, Lausanne
Carles Calero University of Barcelona
Claudio Caporusso University of Bari
Roberto Cerbino University of Vienna
Iurii Chubak Sorbonne University
Joan Codina Chinese Academy of Sciences
Flavia Corsi Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences
Sara Dal Cengio Université Grenoble Alpes
Eric De Giuli Ryerson University
Joost de Graaf Utrecht University
Pasquale Digregorio EPFL, Lausanne
Sudheesh Kumar Ethirajan Carnegie Mellon University
Gianmaria Falasco University of Luxembourg
Elisabeth Fischer-Friedrich Technische Universität Dresden
Giada Forte University of Edinburgh
Guram Gogia ETH Zürich
Anton Goloborodko Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences
Galien Grosjean Institute of Science and Technology Austria
Pau Guillamat University of Genève
Deepak Gupta Simon Fraser University
Arthur Hardiagon CNRS
Moshir Harsh University of Göttingen
Ilin Karagjozov Johannes-Gutenberg Universität Mainz
Richard Kollár Comenius University
Zaida Zuleica Lara Chavero University of Barcelona
Benno Liebchen Technical University Darmstadt
Christos Likos University of Vienna
Paolo Malgaretti Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nürnberg for Renewable Energy
Alessandro Manacorda Ecole Normale Superieure
Helena Massana-Cid Sapienza – Università di Roma
Sara Merino-Aceituno University of Vienna
Davide Michieletto University of Edinburgh
Juan Pablo Miranda Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Izaak Neri King's College London
Thomas O'Connor Sandia National Laboratories
Antonio Ortiz Ambriz University of Barcelona
Masoumeh Ozmaeian University of Texas at Austin
Jack Thomas Parley University of Göttingen
Charlotte Petersen University of Queensland
Patrick Pietzonka University of Edinburgh
Fahad Puthalath The Institute of Mathematical Sciences
Dusan Racko Slovak Academy of Sciences
Sophie Ramananarivo Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau
Valentina Ros CNRS
Ylann Rouzaire EPFL, Lausanne
Jose Manuel Ruiz Franco Wageningen University & Research
Renata Ruskova Slovak Academy of Sciences
Marks Ruziboev University of Vienna
Camille Scalliet University of Cambridge
Deborah Schwarcz Bar Ilan University
Elena Sesé Sansa EPFL, Lausanne
Syed Hashim Shah Kyoto University
Gaurav Prakash Shrivastav Technical University of Vienna
David Sivak Simon Fraser University
Juan Carlos Sobarzo Ponce Institute of Science and Technology Austria
Anton Souslov University of Bath
Vittoria Sposini University of Vienna
Alessio Squarcini Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems
Aparna Sreekumari Max-Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces
Priya Subramanian University of Oxford
Diego Tapias University of Göttingen
Domenico Truzzolillo University of Montpellier
Mattia Alberto Ubertini SISSA
Pierfrancesco Urbani CNRS
Ivonne Elizabeth Ventura Rosales University of Vienna
Gatien Verley Université Paris-Saclay
Susanne Wagner Technical University of Vienna
Scott Waitukaitis Institute of Science and Technology Austria
Andreas Zöttl University of Vienna
Preview of Microswimmer reinforcement learning with genetic algorithms
Andreas Zöttl (U of Vienna): Microswimmer reinforcement learning with genetic algorithms
April 12, 2021 16:25 — 16:50
Preview of The Poisson ratio of the cellular actin cortex is frequency-dependent
Elisabeth Fischer-Friedrich (TU Dresden): The Poisson ratio of the cellular actin cortex is frequency-dependent
April 13, 2021 15:00 — 15:25
Preview of Physical Mechanisms of Chromosome Organisation
Chris Brackley (U Edinburgh): Physical Mechanisms of Chromosome Organisation
April 13, 2021 15:25 — 15:50
Preview of Confinement as a control parameter
Paolo Malgaretti (HI-ERN): Confinement as a control parameter
April 13, 2021 16:25 — 16:50
Preview of What is the simplest model of an amorphous solid?
Eric De Giuli (Ryerson University): What is the simplest model of an amorphous solid?
April 14, 2021 15:00 — 15:25
Preview of Boosted annealing of colloidal monolayers driven by active dopants
Sophie Ramananarivo (École Polytechnique, Palaiseau): Boosted annealing of colloidal monolayers driven by active dopants
April 14, 2021 16:25 — 16:50
Preview of Probing glassy colloidal systems with active particles
Joost de Graaf (Utrecht U): Probing glassy colloidal systems with active particles
April 14, 2021 16:50 — 17:15
Preview of A thermodynamic approach to mesoscopic complexity far from equilibrium
Gianmaria Falasco (U of Luxembourg): A thermodynamic approach to mesoscopic complexity far from equilibrium
April 15, 2021 15:25 — 15:50
Preview of Insight into stochastic thermodynamics
Gatien Verley (U Paris-Saclay): Insight into stochastic thermodynamics
April 15, 2021 15:50 — 16:15
Preview of Active elastocapillarity
Anton Souslov (U Bath): Active elastocapillarity
April 16, 2021 15:00 — 15:25
Preview of The Outlier Dominant Rheology of Ring Polymers In Elongational Flow
Thomas O'Connor (Sandia National Laboratories): The Outlier Dominant Rheology of Ring Polymers In Elongational Flow
April 16, 2021 16:25 — 16:50
Preview of Topologically Active Polymers
Davide Michieletto (U Edinburgh): Topologically Active Polymers
April 16, 2021 16:50 — 17:15
Preview of Meet & Greet
Meet & Greet
At a glance
Online Workshop
April 12, 2021 — April 16, 2021
Erwin Schrödinger Institute - virtual
Demian Levis (U Barcelona)
Emanuele Locatelli (U of Vienna)
Jan Smrek (U of Vienna)
Francesco Turci (U Bristol)