Cristina Marchetti is a theoretical physicist who has worked on a broad range of problems in nonequilibrium statistical and condensed matter physics, including supercooled fluids, glasses, superconductors, and, most recently, active materials. She grew up in Pavia, Italy, and obtained her Laurea in physics from the University of Pavia. She then pursued graduate studies in the US and earned her Ph.D. in physics at the University of Florida in 1982. She joined the faculty at Syracuse University in 1987, after postdoctoral appointments at the University of Maryland, Rockefeller University and City College of CUNY. In 2018 she joined the physics faculty at the University of California Santa Barbara. Marchetti has held elected positions in the American Physical Society and was awarded a Rotschild-Mayent Fellowship at the Institut Curie, a Simons Fellowship in Theoretical Physics, and the inaugural Leo P. Kadanoff Prize by the American Physical Society in 2019. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the National Academy of Sciences. She is currently serving a co-Lead Editor of Physical Review X and of the Annual reviews of Condensed Matter Physics.

Research Interests

Cristina Marchetti's research focuses on collective behavior in condensed matter and biological systems. She has contributed to the understanding of the melting of the Abrikosov lattice of vortex lines in high-temperature superconductors and the role of disorder in these materials. More recently, she has played a leading role in the development of the field of active matter. This name refers to assemblies of interacting entities that individually consume energy to generate motion and forces and collectively exhibit organized behaviors on scales much larger than that of the individuals. The active matter paradigm is relevant to phenomena on many scales, from the control of human crowds to the collective migration of epithelial cells in wound healing. It has additionally paved the way to the development of synthetic analogues that may serve as the base for the development of materials with life-like functions. Marchetti's research has shown that some of this complex behavior can be understood in terms of minimal models based on physical interaction and local rules. She has demonstrated that active systems spontaneously aggregate in the absence of any attractive interactions and has quantified the interplay of activity and topological effects in driving self-sustained flows in active liquid crystals. Her group is currently applying active matter ideas to problems in developmental biology.

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Primary Section

Section 33: Applied Physical Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 13: Physics