Carnivorous plants can be a source of inspiration for new materials with specific mechanical properties, according to researchers from the Centre for Complexity and Biosystems (CC&B) of the University of Milan. In a paper recently published on PNAS– and selected for the journal’s cover –they analysed the mechanics by which one of these plants, Drosera capensis, folds its leaves around insects trapped on their sticky surface in order to digest them.
Prof. Zapperi is currently professor of theoretical condensed matter physics at the University of Milano and coordinator of the Center for Complexity and Biosystems. He graduated in physics at the University of Rome “La Sapienza” and received his Ph. D. in physics from Boston University. After a postdoctoral position at ESPCI in Paris, he became tenured researcher at INFM at the University Rome and then at the University Modena and Reggio Emilia. He became then senior researcher at CNR-IENI in Milano. He has been invited as visiting scientist or visiting professor in many institutions worldwide, including Cornell University, Aalto University, Ecole Normale Superieure, Boston College, Rice University and the Weizmann Institue of Science.
Prof. Zapperi in an expert in the statistical mechanics of complex systems and has contributed to the fields of fracture, plasticity, friction, magnetism and biophysics. His most notable contributions include the theory of the Barkhausen effect in magnets, the statistical physics description of dislocations dynamics and plasticity, the analysis of size effects in fracture and recent work on the physics of cancer. He published more than 200 scientific papers in the top scientific journals, including 4 in Nature, 3 in Science, 4 in PNAS and 32 in Phys. Rev. Lett. gathering more than 9000 citations (scholar). In 2017, he co-authored with Caterina La Porta a book on the Physics of Cancer.
Prof. Zapperi is the recipent of numerous awards including the Marie Curie Excellence Award and an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council. He was elected fellow of the American Physical Society and named Finland Distinguished Professor by the Academy of Finland. He is member of the editorial boards of JSTAT and Physical Biology. He organized several international workshops, summer schools and symposia on a variety of interdisciplinary research topics, ranging from the “Physics of Cancer” to Statistical Physics of Materials and Complex Systems. He has been elected member of the council and the executive committe of the Complex Systems Society and acted as chair of the steering committee of the Conference on Complex Systems.
An MRI scan shows signs of atrophy in the brain of a patient with Huntington's disease.
Science Photo Library/Science Source
Researchers have found that aberrant protein aggregates responsible for Huntington’s disease have some weak spots that could be exploited to hinder the development of this pathology. The study, published on Scientific Report, has been conducted by scientists of the Centre for Complexity and Biosystems (CC&B) of the University of Milan, in collaboration with colleagues from Penn State University.