The Physical Basis of Cellular Memory and Adaptation

April 13th - 20st, 2018


Simon Alberti - MPI Dresden

Jackie Vogel - McGill University

Workshop Series Focus

The 2018 workshop will bring together approximately 30 researchers from biophysics, cell biology, computational biology and structural biology around a common goal of how to physically define and measure molecular and cellular adaptation and cellular memory. Overarching themes are organization of matter and information in biological systems. We are adding a evolutionary biophysics theme in 2018, and a focus on machine learning as well as information theory (entropy)! The first session will take place on Friday evening and consist of overviews of topics that are central to the 2018 workshop; 1) phase transitions in cells (led by Steph Weber) 2) molecular evolution (led by Alex Morozov and Adrian Serohjios) 3) applications of machine learning to analysis of biological processes/systems/structures (led by TBA) As usual, there will be evening socials with discussions, over a cold beer or a rum punch with snacks.

2018 Workshop Themes

Organization of matter within cellular systems - Alberti

Biological machines - Vogel

Molecular Evolution/Evolutionary Biophysics - all


The workshop will start on the evening of April 13th 2018, with an informal reception and workshop overview. Talks and discussions will take place from the morning of April 14th (beginning with a set of introductory talks on major topics the morning of the 14th) to the afternoon of April 19th. Participants should plan to arrive in the afternoon on April 13th and are free to stay until the 20th if desired. A workshop dinner will be held the evening of April 18st. Longer stays, either arrival before and/or depature after the meeting, may be possible if arranged in advance. Please contact Jackie if you wish to bring a student, a guest or want to arrive early or stay after the meeting.


Each participant will be allocated a 60-minute time slot: ~45 minutes for presentations, with ~15 minutes of discussion. however, the schedule will be flexible to ensure ample time for discussions. Informal discussion continues during the afternoon and evening break. A limited number of trainee speaker slots are available on a first come, first served basis. Trainees will have ~20 minutes for presentation and 10-20 minutes for discussion.

Fun in the Sun

Although the goal of the workshop is research centred, we will also have time for leisure. The usual schedule is to have presentations and discussions in the morning (9:00-12:00) and evening (7:00-10:00+), but to leave the afternoons free for other activities. The Institute is located right on a quiet beach, excellent for sun bathing, snorkeling and scuba diving, wind surfing, etc., or just to work on projects with a bunch of good friends and a glass of Bajan Rum Punch. The island also has nice hiking trails, golf courses and surfing areas, all within one hour of (cheap) taxi or thrilling but convenient public transportation. Typical activities include: - a afternoon visit to the Saint Nicolas Abby (rum distillery) - an afternoon at Crane Beach (boogieboarding) - snorkelling with turtles - visits to the jungle (monkeys) or to caves

Location and Accomodation

The Bellairs Research Institute is a owned by McGill University and used during the summer by marine biologists. The Institute has space for about 40 people. The computer science department has been holding workshops there for more than 15 years. Quantitative & Physical Biology workshops began in 2011. Typical cost for the week (shared room, breakfast and dinner) is $650 (US). Breakfast and dinner is prepared by Bellairs staff, who have an excellent local chef. There is no workshop registration fee. Bellairs offers relatively basic amenities. Most people will share a room with one other person. While not a 5-star hotel, the rooms are clean and safe but have no phone or tv (but US cell phones work). The institute is equipped with fairly fast and reliable wireless connection, as well as with desktop few computers. Presentations and discussions usually take place either outdoors or in a air-conditioned conference room. We usually have lunch at one of a few local restaurants. Additional information about Bellairs, including room options and rates can be found at: The Bellairs Research Institute .

Travel Information

There are direct and affordable flights to Barbados from many Canadian, American, and European cities. Once at the airport, Bellairs is easily reached by taxi. The organizers will coordinate taxis for arrivals and departures ahead of the start of the meeting. Barbados is one of the richest islands of the Caribbean, and also one of the safest. English is the main language (although it is no longer a British Dominion) and the population is helpful and friendly. Credit cards and travelers checks are accepted. Precise traveling instructions will be sent to the participants later.

Confirmed Participants

Name Affiliation

Simon Alberti

MPI Dresden

Anjana Badrinarayanan

National Centre for Biological Sciences, India

Susanne Bechstedt

McGill University

Thomas Boothby

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Pielak group)

Hue Sun Chan

University of Toronto

Ibrahim Cisse


Paul Francois

McGill University

Alex Holehouse

Washington University

Randal Halfman


Arnaud Hubstenberger

University Nice, Sophia-Antipolis (France)

Daniel Jarosz

Stanford University

Chris Katanski

University of Chicago (Drummond group)

Justin Kollman

University of Washington

Jette Lengefeld

MIT (Amon Group)

Erik Martin

St Jude (Mittag group)

Alexandre Morozov

Rutgers University

Alan Moses

University of Toronto

Marlene Oeffinger

IRCM / University of Montreal

Snezhka Oliferenko

Crick Institute, UK

Baljyot Parmar

McGill (Weber group)

Rodrigo Reyes

McGill University

Adrian Serohijos

University of Montreal

Jan Skotheim

Stanford University

Peter Swain

University of Edinburgh

Kandice Tanner


Shashi Thutupalli

Simons Center for the Study of Living Machines NCBS, India

Jackie Vogel


Steph Weber


Jie Xiao

Johns Hopkins University

Daniel Zenklusen

University of Montreal


Jackie Vogel