Plenary Speakers

Françoise Brochard-Wyart, Institut Curie, Paris, France

Eugenia Kumacheva, University of Toronto, Canada   

Professor Françoise Brochard-Wyart - Biography

Françoise Brochard-Wyart is Professor Emeritus at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris VI) and Institut Universitaire de France (IUF) Member, working in the “Physical Chemistry Curie” Unit of the Institut Curie (UMR 168). Françoise Brochard-Wyart is a theoretical physico-chemist trained in liquid crystal, polymer, wetting phenomena, physics of membranes (pores and tubes) and cellular adhesion. At Institut Curie, as IUF Member, Françoise Brochard-Wyart has focused on the mechanics of model tissues covering a broad range of themes including tissue rheology, aspiration, spreading, mechanosensitivity, wetting and dewetting, adhesion and fracture, hybrid nanoparticles-cellular aggregates.

Françoise Brochard-Wyart was born in Saint-Etienne in France. After two years of preparation to “Grandes Ecoles” in Lycée Janson de Sailly, she entered the Ecole Normale Supérieure ENS Cachan in Physics where she obtained the Aggregation de Physique in 1968. In 1966-1967, she studied Solid State Physics (D.E.A. de Physique des Solides - Orsay ) with J.Friedel, P.Nozières, A.Guinier and Gennes.

In 1968, she was nominated as Assistant Professor in University d’Orsay and started her Ph.D research in the Laboratory of Solid State Physics in Orsay (1969-1974) under the supervision of Gennes. Her doctoral thesis focused on the dynamical properties of liquid crystals. After Ph.D, she started to work on the flicker phenomenon of red blood cells in collaboration with Institut Pasteur.

In 1975, she became a researcher at Collège de France in Paris, where she investigated the dynamics of polymer chains.

In 1986, she was appointed Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris) in 1986 and focused her research on the physics of interfaces, wetting and dewetting. She had industrial collaboration with Dior and Rhone Poulenc.

In1991, she joined the Institut Curie in Paris. She became a group leader of “Surfaces douces”. She worked on wetting and dewetting at soft interfaces (in collaboration with Michelin, Rhodia and St Gobain ) and began performing research in biophysics, on topics such as cell adhesion, artificial cells and membrane mechanics.

In 2003, she became a member of the prestigious Institut Universitaire de France. In Institut Curie, she started collaboration with biologists. She had been working on applying soft matter physics to study the biophysics of model tissues (tissue rheology, aspiration, spreading, mechanosensitivity, wetting and dewetting, adhesion and fracture). This approach has been very fruitful in unveiling striking analogies between the physics of inert soft matter (polymer, viscous pastes, silly putty) and the behavior of biological tissues. The results obtained from such analogies have suggested important implications to both tissue development and cancer. In collaboration with E. Lemichez, she studied the opening in macroapertures in cells in analogy with the dewetting of viscous liquids.

In 2014, she became Professor Emeritus and started a collaboration with Françoise Winnik in the Mana Institut in Tsukuba (Japan) working on Hybrid cell- nanoparticles aggregates.

Françoise Brochard-Wyart is an international expert in theoretical soft matter physics. She has published more than 260 peer-reviewed papers (h-index 62), 5 book chapters and 2 books. She has given more than 130 invited lectures, including international plenary and keynote lectures, led 15 grants as coordinator, and has supervised 9 post-docs and 25 completed PhDs. She has received numerous awards throughout her career, including the Prix Jean Ricard from the Société Française de Physique (French Physical Society) in 1998 and a Special Mention for the Prix Roberval in 2007. She became in 2015 Officier de la Légion d’Honneur.

Selected Publications

Beaune, G., Stibart V.T., Khalifat N., , Cochet-Escardin O., Garcia S., Murrell M.P., Dufour S., Cuvelier D.,  and Brochard-Wyart F. (2014). "How do cells flow in the spreading of cellular aggregates?" PNAS, 111 (22): 8055-8060

Gonzalez-Rodriguez D, Guevorkian K, Douezan S and Brochard-Wyart F. (2012). Soft matter models of developing tissues and tumors. Science 338 (6109): 910-7.

S. Douezan, K. Guevorkian, R. Naouara, S. Dufour, D. Cuvelier*, F Brochard-Wyart*. (2011). Spreading dynamics and wetting transition of cellular aggregates. PNAS, 108 (18): 7315–7320.


Professor Eugenia Kumacheva - Biography

Eugenia Kumacheva was born in Odessa, Soviet Union. She received her undergraduate degree (Cum Laude) and M.Sc. degree in The Technical University in Saint Petersburg. In 1981-1985, she conducted her Ph.D. research in Physical Chemistry of Polymers in the Russian Academy of Sciences. Her doctoral thesis focused on the new types of composite organic coatings obtained by electrodeposition from aqueous dispersions. In 1985, she became a Junior Scientist in the Department of Chemistry at the Moscow State University.

In 1991, Eugenia Kumacheva received Minerva Foundation Fellowship to conduct her postdoctoral research in polymer physics in the Department of Materials and Interfaces at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Her research focused on properties of fluid films confined between solid surfaces. Using the surface forces balance technique, she discovered confinement-induced reversible first-order liquid-to-solid transitions in ultra-thin liquid films.This work (originally published in Science) had great impact on the current understanding of the flow of liquids through narrow pores, and the adhesion, friction, lubrication, and wetting properties of liquids.

During her postdoctoral research, Eugenia Kumacheva has also discovered a reduction in friction between the sliding surfaces bearing polymer brush-like molecules. This effect (originally reported in Nature) occurred due to the long-range repulsion of an entropic origin between the polymer brushes. Excluded volume effects reduced the configurational entropy of the molecules and led to strong net repulsion between the surfaces. A limited mutual interpenetration between the brushes resulted in the existence of a fluid-like layer between the surfaces and hence, a low dissipation of energy (lubrication). This work shed light on the relaxation processes in confined polymer layers and the origin of very low friction in joints when biopolymer-covered surfaces slide past each other.                                                                     

In 1996, Eugenia Kumacheva joined the Department of Chemistry at the University of Toronto and in 2005 she was promoted to the ranks of Professor. Currently, she works in the field of "soft matter", which includes polymers, colloid particles, nanostructured materials, gels, liquid crystals and biological matter. She conducts interdisciplinary research in Polymer, Surface and Materials Science, nanoscience and microfluidics. One area of her research includes colloidal self-assembly. She has developed new strategies for the organization of nano-, meso- and microscopic particles in complex, hierarchical structures. In one approach (reported in Nature Materials), she utilized a striking analogy between amphiphilic triblock copolymers and polymer-tethered nanoparticles to assemble nanocolloids in hierarchical structures with controllable architectures. In another approach, she demonstrated a striking similarity between the self-assembly of metal nanoparticles and reaction-controlled step-growth molecular polymerization and bridged the gap between reactions taking place at a molecular level and assembly occurring at the length scale two orders of magnitude larger. This work (published in Science) facilitated the design of new, complex nanostructures by mimicking a large library of polymers.

Eugenia Kumacheva has proposed a new fabrication method for the generation of polymer colloids. She conceptualized and developed continuous microfluidic synthesis of polymer particles with exquisite control over their dimensions, shapes, morphologies, and compositions. This work enabled the synthesis of polymer materials that cannot be produced by conventional methods. The microfluidic synthesis was scaled up, thereby paving the way for its applications in academia and industry. She also developed an exploratory microfluidic platform for studies of fast physical and chemical processes involving gas bubbles.  This platform was used to model carbon dioxide circulation in nature and explore carbon dioxide sequestration.

Eugenia Kumacheva has published more than 220 peer-reviewed papers, 9 book chapters and 2 books. She has given more than 220 invited lectures, including international plenary and keynote lectures, and public lectures on the Parliament Hill (Canada), Royal Canada Institute, the French Academy of Science, Ask the Laureate lecture and outreach lectures in high schools and women’s universities in Canada, Costa Rica and Japan.

More than 120 students and postdocs have conducted research in her laboratory, in addition to numerous visiting students and professors from the U.S.A., Europe and Asia. Her former students hold academic positions in Canada, U.S.A, France, South Korea and China and many have taken positions in Industry. Two start up companies have been founded by her former students. In 2011, she co-founded a start up company FlowJEM.

Eugenia Kumacheva is Canada Research Chair in Advanced Polymer Materials (Tier 1). She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. She has been awarded the E. Gordon Young Lectureship and the Macromolecular Science and Engineering Award (both by The Chemical Institute of Canada), the Clara Benson Award (Canadian Council of University Chemistry), the Japan-Canada WISET Lectureship and Killam Fellowship (Canada Council of Arts and Science). Since 2013, she holds the distinction of the University Professor (given to <2% of the tenured Faculty at the University of Toronto). She is a recipient of prestigious international awards including Schlumberger Scholarship (U.K.) and International Chorafas Foundation Award in Physics and Engineering and Alexander von Humboldt Senior Research Award (Germany). Her distinctions include Visiting Professorships at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, Harvard University, Moscow State University, Universitè Louis Pasteur (Strasburg) and the University of Bayreuth. In 2009, Eugenia became the Laureate of the L'Oreal-UNESCO Award “For Women in Science” (given to 5 laureates in the world, one from each continent).

Eugenia Kumacheva's public service includes her work in the Macromolecular Science and Engineering Division (NSERC Canada), Vanier-Banting Selection Board (NSERC Canada), and National L’Oreal-Unesco “Women in Science” selection committee. She is an editor or on advisory board of several scientific journals. She serves on Science Foundation review panels for U.S.A., Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Israel and Switzerland. She is a member of scientific advisory boards for the Waterloo Nanoscience Institute (Canada), Triangle Materials Science Center and Brookhaven National Laboratory (USA), RIKEN Institute (Japan), Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies, Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research and Leibnitz Institute (Germany), an  International Review Panel for the L'Oreal-Unesco Award and the European Union Science Council.