Physics has been remarkably successful in describing emergent phenomenon in simple condensed matter systems through the theories of equilibrium and non-equilibrium statistical physics. The modern synthesis of evolutionary theory led by Fisher, Wright and Kimura has given rise to a quantitative understanding of how genes change in populations and to a number of successful statistical methods that infer evolutionary processes in natural populations. However, recent years have seen many physicists examine evolutionary theory from a physics perspective, mainly using analogies to statistical mechanical theories, and making major new contributions to our understanding of virus, microbial evolution and the structure of genotype-phenotype maps. Nonetheless, there are emergent properties of biological evolution that may have universal description, on which using methods from statistical physics could shed light. In particular, recent progress on dissipation, replication and memory in driven physical systems have pointed in possible directions for a physics-based theory of evolution. These ingredients will lead to a quantitative and predictive understanding of evolution, which will directly impinge on our ability to address important public health problems, such as antibiotic resistance and cancer evolution. The aim of this workshop is to bring together physicists, biologists and experimentalists working on different aspects of evolution and to help strengthen a community within the UK for "evolutionary physics", i.e. the physics of the phenomenon of biology and its evolution. By bringing together theoretical and empirical scientists, both physicists and biologists, we aim to foster this nascent field in the strong physics tradition of data-led and -inspired discovery.
Who should attend?
This workshop encourages participation of physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists, and biologists working on evolution and clinicians working on diseases intimately related to evolution. A key aim of the workshop is to begin a dialogue with the community of physicists involved with developing physics-based theories of evolution and life. Anyone interested in this area of research is welcome to register.
The workshop will be split into 4 sessions. Each session will use the following format; invited speaker(s) talks, contributed talks and session discussion. Session 1: Evolution of pathogens and cancer – What are the common themes between the evolution of these diseases? Can we predict the progress of evolution of these diseases? Confirmed invited session speakers: Rosalind Allen, University of Edinburgh, Daniel Fisher, Stanford University (TBC) Session 2: Emergence in genotype-phenotype maps – are there universal statistical properties to GP maps and can these be used to provide more quantitative predictions of the course of evolution? Confirmed invited session speaker: Session 2: Paulien Hogeweg, Utrecht University Session 3: Non-equilibrium statistical physics of evolution: analogies and beyond – what is optimised in evolution? What are the key elements of a non-equilibrium physics-theory of life? Can we predict the timescales for evolution of phenotypes at different scales? Confirmed invited session speaker: Session 3: Susanne Still, University of Hawaii Session 4: Experimental evolution – how do experiments constrain parameters of evolutionary theory, like abundance of beneficial mutations? What types of evolution experiments can provide an insight to a physics-theory of life? Confirmed invited session speaker: Session 4: Santiago Elena, Universitat de València & Santa Fe Institute
Registration and Abstract Submission
A £110 registration fee will be charged which includes lunches and refreshments. To register for this workshop please first complete the below online registration form and then make payment via telephone: 0191 334 6912, quoting: 'Physics of Evolution' when making the payment. Accommodation should be arranged separately. For any enquiries relating to this event, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributed Talks and Posters
Contributed talks and poster abstract submissions are welcomed. The organisers will confirm contributed talks by June 12. Submitted talk title and abstracts that are not selected as talks will automatically have the option to present a poster. Poster sizes can be up to standard A0 (118.9 x 841 mm / 46.8 x 33.1 inches) in portrait or landscape.
The meeting will take place at the Francis Crick Institute in London which is located near Kings Cross/St Pancras. For details on how to get to the Crick, please follow this link: https://www.crick.ac.uk/about-us/visit-us