Andrea J. Liu

University of Pennsylvania

Primary Section: 33, Applied Physical Sciences
Secondary Section: 13, Physics
Membership Type: Member (elected 2016)


Andrea Liu is a theoretical soft condensed matter physicist. She is best known for developing the field of jamming, which provides a unifying conceptual framework for understanding commonalities in systems ranging from atomic and molecular glasses, to colloidal glasses and granular matter. Liu was born in New York and grew up in Iowa. She received her AB degree in physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and her PhD in the area of critical phenomena from Cornell University in 1989. After switching to complex fluids during her postdoc at Exxon Research and Engineering Co., she worked on polymer theory as a postdoc in the Chemical Engineering, Materials Science and Physics departments at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She then joined the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was a member of the physical chemistry faculty for ten years before moving to the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania in 2004, where she is now the Hepburn Professor of Physics.

Research Interests

Andrea Liu’s research combines theory and computation to study soft and living matter. In living matter, her research focuses on the role of mechanics in biology, with the aim of understanding how new and general collective phenomena, often beyond those typically observed in inanimate soft matter, can emerge at the subcellular, cellular and tissue levels. In soft matter, she and her collaborators have shown that jamming produces solids at an opposite pole from perfect crystals, providing a new way of thinking about the nature of rigidity in disordered solids. The nonequilibrium jamming transition and jammed state thus serve as useful starting points for understanding a broad class of materials, including glasses.

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