Harvard University Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences

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

  • 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.
  • Rationally designed complex, hierarchical microarchitectures
    W. L. Noorduin, A. Grinthal, L. Mahadevan, J. Aizenberg. Science, 340, 832-837. Click here for PDF version of article.
  • Adaptive fluid-infused porous films with tunable transparency and wettability
    X. Yao, Y. Hu, A. Grinthal, T-S. Wong, L. Mahadevan and J. Aizenberg, Nature Materials, 12, 529-34, 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.
  • Minimal surfaces bounded by elastic lines
    L. Giomi and L. Mahadevan,Proceedings of the Royal Society of London (A), 2012. doi: 10.1098/rspa.2011.0627 Click here for PDF version of article.
  • Balancing on tightropes and slacklines
    P. Paoletti and L. Mahadevan, Journal of the Royal Society - Interface, doi:10.1098/rsif.2012.0077, 2012. Click here for PDF version of article.
  • How things get stuck: kinetics, elastohydrodynamics, and soft adhesion
    M. Mani, A. Gopinath, and L. Mahadevan, Physical Review Letters, 108, 226104, 2012. Click here for PDF version of article.
  • Soft catenaries
    K. Kamrin and L. Mahadevan, Journal of Fluid Mechanics 691, 165-177. 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.
  • Influence of feedback on the stochastic evolution of simple climate systems.
    L. Mahadevan and J. Deutch, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London (A), 466, 993, 2010. 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.
  • Nonequilibrium scale selection mechanism for columnar jointing
    L. Goehring L. Mahadevan, and S. Morris, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA)106, 387, 2009. Click here for PDF version of article.
  • Self-organization of a mesoscale bristle into ordered hierarchical helical assemblies
    B. Pokroy, S. Kang, L. Mahadevan, and J. Aizenberg, Science323, 237, 2009. Click here for PDF version of article.
  • A generalized theory of viscous and inviscid flutter
    S. Mandre and L. MahadevanProceedings of the Royal Society of London (A), doi:10.1098/rspa.2009.0328, 2009. Click here for PDF version of article.
  • Elasticity of floppy and stiff random networks
    M. Wyart, H. Liang, A. Kabla,and L. Mahadevan, Physical Review Letters, 101, 215501, 2008. Click here for PDF version of article.
  • Limbless undulatory propulsion on land
    Z. Guo and L. Mahadevan, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), 105, 3179, 2008. Click here for PDF version of article.

    all publications

Last Updated: August 6, 2012

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 324
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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