Michael Shelley is an applied mathematician known for his work in scientific computing, fluid dynamics, and biophysics. This includes pattern- and singularity-formation in free-boundary problems, fluid-structure interactions such as the flapping of flags, complex and active fluids, bio-locomotion, collective behavior in biology, and cellular biomechanics. Shelley was born in La Junta, Colorado. He holds a BA in Mathematics from the University of Colorado (1981) and a PhD in Applied Mathematics from the University of Arizona (1985). He was a postdoctoral fellow in the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Princeton University, and in 1988 joined the faculty of mathematics at the University of Chicago. In 1992 he joined the Courant Institute of New York University where he is the George and Lilian Lyttle Professor of Applied Mathematics, and where he co-founded its Applied Math Laboratory. In 2016 he also became a senior research scientist and group leader at the Center for Computational Biology of the Flatiron Institute, and in 2019 was appointed the scientific director of the center. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Research Interests

Michael Shelley's interests lie in the modeling and simulation of complex systems arising in biology and soft-matter physics. His earlier work included free-boundary problems in fluids and materials science, singularity formation in partial differential equations, modeling visual perception in the primary visual cortex, non-Newtonian fluid dynamics, and fluid-structure problems such as the flapping of flags, stream-lining in nature, and flapping flight. Shelley's current research interests are in understanding complex collective phenomena arising in active matter and its biophysical settings, and in related fluid-structure problems. This has involved, for example, the development of coarse-grained "active-matter" models and analyses that explain how suspensions of microswimmers, or assemblies of biopolymers and molecular motors, self-organize to develop large-scale coherent structures sustained by energy consumption. It also involves the development of specialized methods for the direct large-scale simulation of such assemblies. These have, for example, been applied to understand the positioning of subcellular organelles during cell development. In other, related work, Shelley has studied the structure and hydrodynamic stability of swimming or flying collectives. While his tools are mathematical, much of his work is in close collaboration with experimental biophysicists.

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Primary Section

Section 32: Applied Mathematical Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 29: Biophysics and Computational Biology