Soft Matter Physics at Kansas State University
Bret Flanders 


The Soft Matter Physics Group at KSU is composed of five investigators each leading vigorous research programs.  Chris Sorensen (experiment), Amit Chakrabarti (theory), and Bruce Law (experiment) are the senior members of the group.  They all receive support from a prestigious, Sorensen-led Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Team (NIRT) award and are known for their work in aerosols, nanoparticle suspensions, self assembly, wetting, dewetting, and slip and phase transitions.  In 2008 the group chose to broaden their scope to biological problems associated with the interactions between the soft building blocks (macromolecules, organelles, and cells) of living organisms at the interface between nanoscience and biological physics. To substantiate this shift, the KSU soft matter group hired two cross-disciplinary scientists. Associate Professor Bret Flanders works in the areas of nanoscale materials growth and on electrode-cellular adhesion.  Assistant Professor Robert Szoszkiewicz is a scanning probe microscopist who studies force and temperature-activated chemistry on the local and molecular levels.  These 5 faculty members along with their 3 postdocs, 11 graduate students and 8 undergraduate students compose the largest soft matter-physics group in the region (Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, and Arkansas)—and form an unusually strong soft matter group for a physics department within the US.  Group members teach several special topics courses including soft matter physics, light scattering, wetting and surface forces, and biological physics.  These members also maintain strong collaborations with KSU researchers from other disciplines and with other soft matter groups both within the US and abroad (Europe, Japan, Australia).  With more than 40 publications in peer-reviewed journals and 3 pending patents since January 2008, the group is highly productive.