Lab art made for Science.Art.Wonder
Lexie Liu, 2020

Our lab uses theoretical and computational techniques to study a wide variety of soft condensed matter systems both in and out of equilibrium. How do we explain the way disordered solids maintain their rigidity, and also how they fail? What can simple models of active matter teach us about the collective behavior of cells in dense tissue, or about how birds flock? We focus on the role of topology and topological interactions in protecting system behaviors even in the presence of strong fluctuations – this allows us to make strong predictions about how a system responds to perturbations even when using extremely simplified, coarse-grained representations. We employ data-science-driven techniques, working closely with experiments, to formulate precisely tests that can discriminate between different theoretical approaches.


July 2024: Charles’ paper on flocking phases in experimental systems published!

In a collaboration between scientists at Cornell, Syracuse, and North Carolina A&T, we studied a model flocking system that displays both polar ordered and large-scale vortex states. First author Charles Packard performed extensive deep-learning-driven video analysis along with large-scale numerical simulations to study these flocking phases and compare them with detailed anisotropic structures predicted by Toner-Tu theory. Read more in the Physical Review E paper

May 2024: Haicen’s paper on coalescence of Brownian droplets published!

Our work (together with Justin Burton) showing the the merging of two fluid drops evolving according to Brownian dynamics falls into a novel universality class of coalescent behavior is published in Physical Review Research! Read more here!

March 2024: Sussman lab at the APS March Meeting!

Sussman lab members Toler Webb, Tomi Obadiya, Helen Ansell, and Chengling Li (clockwise from the top left) all presented at the March Meeting in Minneapolis this year! In addition, Daniel organized a pair of focus session on “non-reciprocity in soft and active matter.”

November 2023: Tomi publishes his first paper with the group!

Tomi’s work on applying machine-learning methods to disordered solids – in this case, showing that a transfer learning approach learns energy barriers in the glass phase after training on diffusive dynamics in the fluid phase! – is published in Physical Review Research. Read more here!

August 2023: Helen Ansell joins the group!

We’re thrilled to welcome postdoctoral scholar and Tarbutton Fellow Dr. Helen Ansell to the group! Helen’s Ph.D. was completed in the Kamien lab at Penn, and she’s joining us after being a postdoc at Northwestern working in the Kovacs lab. We’re all excited to have the chance to work with Helen over the next few years!

Summer 2023: Haicen accepts a faculty position at Vermont!

Excited, proud, elated to share that Haicen will start as an assistant professor at the University of Vermont, starting this August! It was fantastic getting a chance to work with Haicen for the last few years, and she was absolutely instrumental in getting the group up and running. Looking forward to seeing what she does next!

March 2023: Sussman lab at the APS March Meeting!

Our group was proud to have two invited talks this year (presented by star postdoc Haicen Yue in the “Frontiers of Soft Matter” invited session on Friday, and by Daniel on Monday morning)! In addition, Charles Packard gave an excellent talk about his work on non-reciprocal effects in models of flocking, and Tomi Obadiya presented his machine learning work for the first time!

October 2022: Group hike!

Starting a research group during the pandemic was certainly a process – it was greating having the chance to take our first group hike! We opted for a fairly easy walk up a nearby granite monadnock. Great views of Atlanta from the top (which made it abundantly clear just how geographically challenged the whole group is), and a fun time!

August 2022: Daniel awarded an NSF CAREER Grant!

The National Science Foundation has awarded a CAREER grant to Daniel! Starting August first and running for five years, this grant will fund multiple graduate students to study the dynamics and thermodynamics of “ultra-strong” glassforming materials.

June 2022: Paper published in Physical Review Research!

Working with the group of Nuno Araujo and led by his graduate student Diogo Pinto we showed that the energy landscape in models of dense cellular matter has a hierarchical (and ultrametric) structure, and that the choice of metric defining the distance between basins was key to uncovering this structure. On a techincal level, this project also inspired us to make substantial improvements to the computational geometry algorithms at the heart of the cellGPU software package. Read more here!

May 2022: Chengling Li joins the group!

Graduate student Chengling Li joins the group – welcome, Chengling!

March 2022: More ice cream science!

Daniel teamed up with with Michael Czajkowski and Science for Georgia for an encore presentation of the physics of ice cream as part of the 2022 Atlanta Science Festival! The event sold out, we all learned a little bit about the kind of thing ice cream is, and the line for waffle cones wrapped around part of the block – everybody wins!

March 2022: Haicen and Charles present at APS March Meeting in Chicago!

Twelve years ago, Daniel attended his very first APS March Meeting. This year, in Chicago, he got to watch the first grad student to join the group present for the first time. Another proud moment! Even better: it was quickly followed by an absolutely stellar talk from the Sussman Lab’s star postdoc. Congrats, Charles and Haicen!.

November 2021: Haicen presents at APS DFD

Stellar postdoc Haicen Yue presents at the APS flagship fluid dynamics conference, talking about her work on the fusion of cellular aggregates and other meso-scale droplets! It’s a proud moment for the group, as Haicen becomes the first Sussman Lab member other than Daniel to give a talk!

June 2021: Public science in Decatur Square!

Fulfilling a childhood dream, I teamed up with Michael Czajkowski and Science for Georgia to do some science outreach, talking about the soft matter physics of ice cream. Performing in downtown Decatur on a beautiful day, there were absurd illustrations, zany demonstrations, and some delicious, delicious science!

May 2021: Toler Webb joins the group!

Graduate student Toler Webb joins the group – welcome, Toler!

March 2021: Paper published in PNAS!

Another paper at the intersection of experimental work and numerical modeling. Working with the Gardel lab, we find that cell shape is controlled by rigidity and active stresses within the tissue, and show that cell cycle dynamics are the source of active stress that drives epithelial remodeling. Work published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

February 2021: Collaborative work published in Phys Rev. X!

Together with an experimental team in Leipzig, we talk about connections between single-cell information and tissue-scale material properties in 3D cell cultures. Work published in Physical Review X

January 2021: Paper published in Soft Matter!

Models of dense biological tissue? Glassy behavior? Machine learning? Check out this collaboration with Tristan Sharp, Indrajit Tah, and Andrea Liu in Soft Matter

Oct. 2020: Sumedh Khanolkar joins the group!

Our first undergraduate researcher, Sumedh, has joined the group – welcome! Sumedh is a sophomore working with the SIRE program to his first look at what research is like. Looking forward to working together this year and, hopefully, beyond!

Sep. 2020: Haicen Yue joins the group!

We’re thrilled to welcome the group’s first postdoctoral scholar, and one of Emory’s TMLS postdoctoral fellows, Dr. Haicen Yue! Haicen’s Ph.D. was completed in the Rappel lab at UC San Diego, and she’s joining us after being a postdoc at the Courant Institute working with Alex Mogilner. The whole group is excited to have the chance to work with Haicen over the next few years!

June 2020: Paper published in Physical Review Research!

Daniel’s first Emory-based single-author-paper has been published! Check out the open-access article, and see this page for more details!

May 2020: First students join the group!

Welcome to the group, Charles and Tomi!

Dec. 2019: Paper on modeling nematic liquid crystals published!

A joint paper with Daniel Beller’s group at UC Merced has been published! Check out this page for more details!