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Jayanth Banavar named CMNS dean at University of Maryland

University of Maryland
May 24, 2011
Distinguished physicist Jayanth R. Banavar, whose research frequently involves interdisciplinary collaboration in the life sciences, has been named dean of the University of Maryland's newly integrated College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS).

For the past 12 years, Banavar has led the physics department at Penn State University. He will assume the Maryland post in August.

"With an integrated scientific college, Maryland is well-positioned to prepare the next generation of scientists for the types of challenges they are likely to encounter," Banavar says.

"While strength in the core disciplines is essential, the lines between them will continue to blur, and we need to educate a generation of creative researchers who can thrive in an interdisciplinary environment," he adds. "I'm delighted to be entrusted with this responsibility."

Much of Banavar's recent work has applied the techniques of statistical physics to solve interdisciplinary problems, explaining, for example, why biological molecules tend to curl up into helices, or to explain why coral reefs support such a rich biodiversity. Frequently, the goal has been to identify an underlying mathematical principle that can provide an elegant explanation of natural phenomena - "to uncover the simplicity underlying the seemingly bewildering complexity."

A condensed-matter theorist, Banavar has authored or co-authored more than 250 journal articles on topics as diverse as metabolic scaling in living organisms, river networks, patterns underlying gene expression profiles, continuum deductions from molecular hydrodynamics, biodiversity and ecology, the geometry and physics of proteins, the physics of porous media, and the nature of ordering of spin glasses.
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