- Assistant Professor in Applied Mathematics
Ariel Amir grew up in Israel and received his B.S. from Hebrew University and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science. In 2011, he came to Harvard University as a Junior Fellow, and in 2014, he joined the Harvard Paulson School as Assistant Professor of Applied Math and Applied Physics.
His research centers on the theory of complex systems, which he applies to problems from physics, materials science, and living organisms, often in collaboration with experimental groups.
He emphasizes the need to recognize unifying principles that cross disciplinary boundaries. For example, he has shown that the behavior within a class of different glassy systems is universal, and is currently working on extending these tools to systems not typically viewed as “glasses.”
Similarly, his research in biophysics employs dislocation theory—widely used to analyze mechanical properties of solids—in modeling bacterial cell wall growth. Methods from statistical mechanics allowed him to address the problem of how microorganisms such as bacteria control the size of their cells.
Current work in the group is focused on various aspects of disordered systems and stochastic processes, including structural coloration (generation of colors by means of specific structures at the sub-micron scale rather than pigments), shape regulation in microorganisms and the physics of glassy systems.