H. Eugene Stanley

H. Eugene Stanley

Professor (University Professor)
Office: SCI, Room 204B. 617-353-2617


Research Interests:

Director, Center for Polymer Studies 590 Commonwealth Avenue, Room 204 TEL: 857-891-1941 (cell) FAX: 617-353-3783 "PDFs of published papers.":http://polymer.bu.edu/hes/articles Gene Stanley was born in Oklahoma City and obtained his B.A. in physics at Wesleyan University in 1962. He performed biological physics research with Max Delbrueck in 1963 (funded by a Fulbright in Germany) and was awarded the Ph.D. in physics at Harvard in 1967 after completing a thesis on critical phenomena in magnetic systems under the guidance of T. A. Kaplan and J. H. Van Vleck. Stanley was a Miller Fellow at Berkeley with C. Kittel, where he wrote an Oxford monograph, INTRODUCTION TO PHASE TRANSITIONS AND CRITICAL PHENOMENA, which won the Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Book of 1971. He was appointed Assistant Professor of Physics at MIT in 1969 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1971. He was appointed Herman von Helmholtz Associate Professor in 1973 in recognition of his interdepartmental teaching and research with the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology. In 1976 Stanley joined Boston University as Professor of Physics and Associate Professor of Physiology (in the School of Medicine). In 1978 and 1979, he was promoted to Professor of Physiology and University Professor, respectively. In 2007 he was offered joint appointments with the Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering Departments. He is currently honorary professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Pavia, and at Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest. Stanley works in collaboration with students and colleagues attempting to understand puzzles of interdisciplinary science. His main current focus is understanding the anomalous behavior of liquid water in bulk, nanoconfined, and biological environments. He has also worked on a range of other topics in complex systems, such as quantifying correlations among the constituents of the Alzheimer brain, and quantifying fluctuations in noncoding and coding DNA sequences, interbeat intervals of the healthy and diseased heart. His publications have received 38,537 citations [31,968 to articles and 6569 to books] his "Hirsch index is 90":http://argento.bu.edu/hes/articles/highlycited.html. Two of his papers were reproduced in THE PHYSICAL REVIEW, THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS: A SELECTION OF SEMINAL PAPERS AND COMMENTARIES. Stanley has been elected to the US National Academy of Sciences, the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, and is an Honorary Member of the Hungarian Physical Society and an Honorary Professor at Eotvos Lorand University (Budapest). Stanley received the Boltzmann Medal, given by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), and the Teresiana Medal in Complex Systems Research given by the University of Pavia. He also received the "Distinguished Teaching Scholar" Director's Award from the National Science Foundation, the APS Nicholson Medal for Human Outreach, a Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, the David Turnbull Prize, a BP Venture Research Award, the Floyd K. Richtmyer Memorial Lectureship Award, the Memory Ride Award for Alzheimer Research, and the Massachusetts Professor of the Year awarded by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. He has received five Doctorates Honoris Causa, from Bar-Ilan University, Eotvos Lorand University (Budapest), The University of Liege, The University of Dortmund, and The University of Wroclaw. Stanley has served as thesis advisor to 96 Ph.D. candidates at MIT and Boston University, and has worked with 106 research associates. With Nicole Ostrowsky, Stanley co-founded a series of NATO Advanced Study Institutes in interdisciplinary physics in Cargese (in 1985, 1988, and 1990), he co-directed the 1996, 2003, and 2009 Enrico Fermi Schools of Physics on Complex Systems, and he chaired the 1998 Gordon Conference on Water and the 1986 IUPAP International Conference on Statistical Mechanics, Statphys16. Stanley serves on the International Jury for the 500,000 euro "Women in Science" L'Oreal-UNESCO Prize. He is chair of the NAS/Keck Futures Initiative on Complexity, and is an active member of the NAS Committee Forefronts of Science at the Interface of Physical and Life Sciences, charged with finding ways for fostering useful collaborations between physicists and life scientists, He also serves on two NAS committees concerned with threat networks and threatened networks. SELECTED PAPERS: * "Physics and Chemistry of Liquid Water":http://polymer.bu.edu/~hes/water/ * "Neuroscience (especially Alzheimer Disease)":http://polymer.bu.edu/~hes/ad/ * "Physics of Networks":http://polymer.bu.edu/~hes/networks/ * "Econophysics":http://polymer.bu.edu/~hes/econophysics/ * "Physiology":http://polymer.bu.edu/~hes/physiology/


B.A. (physics), Wesleyan University, 1962. Ph.D. (physics), Harvard University, 1967.


In the news:


Research Descriptions:

Application of Statistical Physics to Understanding and Preventing Diseases Related to Protein Misfolding, such as Alzheimer Disease


For more than a decade, we have been using our expertise in statistical and condensed matter physics to study the early stages of aggregation of the amyloid beta-protein that eventually makes up the toxic fibrils and plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer patients. We are refining protein-folding models designed to identify the areas of the amyloid protein that are involved in the misfolding process, and to predict forms that the proteins are likely to take in the human brain. The protein structures that the our computer models predict are compared to actual proteins synthesized in the lab by neurological biochemist Dr. David Teplow at UCLA; this dialogue between computational models and observed results ensures that the computer models are accurately mimicking amyloid protein misfolding as it occurs in the brain of an Alzheimer patient.

Econophysics: Using Statistical Physics Concepts to Better Understand Economic Questions

A physicist views the economy as a collection of interacting units. This collection is complex; everything depends on everything else. The interesting problem is: how does everything depend on everything else? Physicists are looking for laws that will help us understand this complex interaction.

To a physicist, the most interesting thing about economics is that it is dominated by fluctuations in quantities of economic interest. Because big economic shocks affect the economy around the world, the possibility of an economic “meltdown” is one that we must take seriously. Big changes in big money affect not only people with large amounts of it, but also those who have very little of it—those on the margins of society.

Finding ideas that serve to solve economic problems can potentially help in making progress on unsolved physics problems. A good example is turbulence. If we take a bucket of water and disturb the surface, energy is added to the system on a big scale. This energy then dissipates over progressively smaller scales. This is an unsolved physics problem; many empirical facts can be stated, but little can be said about understanding it. The economy is analogous to this example of turbulence. One can add information on a big scale to an economic system—e.g., the news of who wins a presidential election—and that information is dissipated on smaller and smaller scales. The way that you handle the “turbulence” associated with this dissipation of information in a financial market may help us understand how to approach turbulence in our physics research.

Physical Mechanisms in Liquid Water


Water is a unique substance. It plays a major role in all living systems, and even small perturbations such as the substitution of deuterium for hydrogen are sufficient to destroy biological function. In living systems, essential water-related phenomena occur in restricted geometries in cells and organelles, and at active sites on membranes. The liquid-liquid phase transition hypothesis arose from molecular dynamics studies on the structure and equation of state of supercooled bulk water and has received some support. Below the hypothesized second critical point, the liquid phase separates into two distinct liquid phases: a low-density liquid (LDL) phase at low pressures and a high-density liquid (HDL) at high pressure. Bulk water near the known critical point at 647 K is a fluctuating mixture of molecules whose local structures resemble the liquid and gas phases. Similarly, bulk water near the hypothesized liquid-liquid critical point is a fluctuating mixture of molecules whose local structures resemble the two phases, LDL and HDL. These enhanced fluctuations influence the properties of liquid bulk water, thereby leading to anomalous behavior. Consistent with this hypothesis are recent MIT experiments, which our group is interpreting. We are also extending our work to the special layer of water surrounding a protein (“hydration water”), which appears to have a dynamic crossover not unlike that observed for water confined in 1D nanopores.

Threat Networks and Threatened Networks: Stabilization and Immunization of Networks

Our scientific goal is to uncover common principles governing the behavior of a range of social networks. Our practical goal is to use this understanding to develop specific strategies to destroy threat networks, and in parallel to develop specific strategies to defend threatened social networks against attack. There is evidence that progress toward achieving both goals can be achieved using new approaches from modern statistical physics to social network structure and dynamics that our group has contributed to.