The Applied Math Lab

We are interested in understanding the organization of matter in space and time, particularly at the scale observable by our unaided senses. We use a combination of techniques to pursue this, ranging from simple observations of phenomena to quantitative experiments and theory. Many of the topics that we work on start with our everyday experiences of the mundane, which by its very nature is robust. The challenge is to abstract out some principle from a phenomenon that is of relevance far beyond the particular manifestation of it. We have a small but growing laboratory for tinkering around while characterizing macroscopic living and nonliving systems.

Recent Publications

  • Directional memory arises from long-lived cytoskeletal asymmetries in polarized chemotactic cells
    H.V. Prentice-Motta, Y. Merozc, A. Carlson, M. A. Levinea, M. W. Davidsond, D. Irimiae, G.T. Charras, L. Mahadevan, and J.V. Shaha, PNAS 2016 ; published ahead of print January 13, 2016 Click here for PDF version of article.
  • Biomimetic 4D printing
    A. S. Gladman, E. A. Matsumoto, R.G. Nuzzo, L. Mahadevan, and J.A. Lewis, Nature Materials, Published Online: 25 January 2016 | DOI: 10.1038/NMAT4544 Click here for PDF version of article.
  • Programming curvature using origami tessellations
    L.H. Dudte, E. Vouga, T. Tachi and L. Mahadevan, Nature Materials, Published Online: 25 January 2016 | DOI: 10.1038/NMAT4540 Click here for PDF version of article.
  • Solid friction between soft filaments
    A. Ward, F. Hilitski, W. Schwenger, D. Welch, A.W.C. Lau, V. Vitelli, L. Mahadevan and Z. Dogic, Nature Materials, online publication DOI: 10.1038, 2015 Click here for PDF version of article.
  • Gait and speed selection in slender inertial swimmers
    M. Gazzolaa, M. Argentina and L. Mahadevan, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112, 13, 2015 Click here for PDF version of article.
  • Termite mounds harness diurnal temperature oscillations for ventilation
    H. King, S. Ocko, and L. Mahadevan, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112, 37, 11589–11593, 2015 Click here for PDF version of article.
  • Elastohydrodynamics of a sliding, spinning and sedimenting cylinder near a soft wall
    T. Salez and L. Mahadevan, J. Fluid Mech. 779, 181-196 2015 Click here for PDF version of article.
  • Optimal control of plates using incompatible strains
    G.W. Jones and L. Mahadevan, Nonlinearity 28, 3153–3174, 2015 Click here for PDF version of article.
  • Collective thermoregulation in bee clusters
    S. Ocko and L. Mahadevan, Journal of the Royal Society - Interface 11, 20131033, 2014. Click here for PDF version of article.
  • Gyrification from constrained cortical expansion
    T. Tallinen, J.Y. Chung, J.S. Biggins, and L. Mahadevan, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), 111, 35:12667-12672, 2014. Click here for PDF version of article.
  • Scaling macroscopic aquatic locomotion
    M. Gazzola, M. Argentina and L. Mahadevan, Nature Physics, 10, 758-61, 2014. Click here for PDF version of article.
  • Villification: how the gut gets its villi
    A. Shyer, T. Tallinen, N. Nerurkar, Z. Wei, E. Kim, D. Kaplan, C. Tabin and L. Mahadevan Science, 342, 212-218, 2013. Click here for PDF version of article.
  • The cytoplasm of living cells behaves as a poroelastic material
    E. Moeendarbary, L. Valon, M. Fritzsche, A.R. Harris, D.A. Moulding, A.J. Thrasher, E. Stride, L. Mahadevan, and G.T. Charras, Nature Materials, 12, 253-261, 2013. Click here for PDF version of article.
  • How the cucumber tendril coils and overwinds
    S.J. Gerbode, J.R. Puzey, A.G. McCormick, L. Mahadevan, Science 337, 1087, 2012. Click here for PDF version of article.
  • On the growth and form of the gut
    T. Savin, N.A. Kurpios, A.E. Shyer, P. Florescu, H. Liang, L. Mahadevan & C.J. Tabin, Nature 476:57-62, 2011. Click here for PDF version of article.
  • Growth, geometry and mechanics of the blooming lily
    H-Y Liang and L. Mahadevan, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108, 5516-21, 2011. Click here for PDF version of article.
  • Unfolding the sulcus
    E. Hohlfeld and L. Mahadevan, Physical Review Letters, 106, 105702, 2011. Click here for PDF version of article.
  • Geometry, mechanics and electronics of singular structures in graphene
    V. Pereira, H-Y Liang, A. Castro-Neto and L. Mahadevan, Physical Review Letters, 105, 156603, 2010. Click here for PDF version of article.
  • Why subduction zones are curved
    L. Mahadevan, R. Bendick and H-Y Liang, Tectonics, 29,TC6002, 2010. Click here for PDF version of article.

    all publications

Contact Information:

L. Mahadevan, Vitae:  Click here for PDF version of c.v.

Lola England de Valpine Professor of Applied Mathematics

Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology

Professor of Physics

Pierce Hall 322
Harvard University
29 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Email:

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Recent Press

Our work has inspired some recent articles, interviews, editorials and even a series of paintings. See below:

Video  - an interview on Youtube

Newspaper - in the Boston Globe: Meeting the Minds | Simple curiosities compel scientist

Radio - on NPR with Robin Young in Here and Now

Profile - by Jon Shaw in Harvard Magazine  - The Physics of the Familiar

Paintings - see Jonathan Nix, who had a recent exhibition that included the Mahadevan Series

Interview - with Giselle Weiss in the Swiss newspaper NZZ, titled Das ratsel des zerknullten papiers

Article - by Prof. Gilbert Strang of MIT in SIAM News - "A remarkable eye for out-of-the-ordinary mathematics".

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