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Cyrus Safinya

Cyrus Safinya
Professor Cyrus R. Safinya

Cyrus R. Safinya received a B.S. in Physics and Mathematics from Bates College in 1975. He received his Ph.D. degree in Physics in 1981 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his work on "X-ray Scattering Study of the Critical Behavior of Binary Liquid Crystal Mixtures" under the supervision of Professor Robert J. Birgeneau (current President of UC Berkeley). In 1981, he joined the Exxon Research and Engineering Company in New Jersey and conducted research on the structure of complex fluids and biological membranes. He joined the faculty of the University of California at Santa Barbara as a Professor of Materials and Physics in 1992. His group's research is focused on elucidating structures and interactions of supramolecular assemblies of biological molecules. This includes understanding structures of DNA condensed by oppositely charged lipids and multivalent counter-ions in vitro and the relationship with condensed DNA in vivo, and developing a fundamental understanding of interactions between cell cytoskeletal proteins and their associated molecules which leads to their distinct structures (related to their specific functions in cells) on the nanometer to the many micrometer scales. A major project in the group has the goal of developing lipid and polymer based non-viral vectors (carriers) of DNA, peptides, and proteins for gene and drug delivery applications. Structures are solved by combining reciprocal space and real space data resulting from x-ray diffraction and scattering, light-microscopy differential-interference-contrast and three-dimensional confocal imaging, and electron microscopy experiments.

Research and Professional Experience
1981 – 1992              Research Physicist, Exxon Research & Engineering Company
1992 – present         Professor of Materials and Physics, UC-Santa Barbara (UCSB)              
1994 – present         Professor, Biomolecular Science & Engineering Program, UCSB
2004 – present         Professor, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, UCSB
2006 – present         Professor, Above-Scale, UC Santa Barbara

1. Fellow, The American Physical Society (elected 1994, DCMP)
2. Rothschild Fellow, Henri De Rothschild Foundation, Curie Institute, Paris, 1994
3. Fellow, The American Association for the Advancement of Science (elected 1997, Physics Section)
4. World Class University Distinguished Visiting Professor of Physics, KAIST (2009-2013)

Selected Invited Talks:
1.  Plenary Lecture, Keystone Symposium, Synthetic Non-Viral Gene Delivery Systems (1998)
2.  Plenary Lecture, 27th International Liquid Crystal Conference, Strasbourg, France (1998)
3.  Keynote Speaker, Complex Fluids Symposium, 74th Coll. & Surf. Sci. Sym., ACS, (2000)
4.  Plenary Lecture, 9th Int’l Conf. on Organized Molecular Films, Potsdam, Germany (2000)
5.  Plenary Lecture, 6th International Liquid Matter Conference, Utrecht, NL  (2005)
6.  Royal Society Discussion Meeting, New Directions in Liquid Crystal Science, London (2005)
7.  Keynote Lecture, 7th UC-wide Bioengineering Symposium, UCLA (2006)
8. Plenary Lecture, 5th Int’l Conf. on Synchrotron Radiation in Materials Science, Chicago (2006)
9. Plenary Lecture, 2nd Int’l Symposium on Bio-Inspired Engineering, Israel (2007)
10. Plenary Lecture, American Conference on Neutron Scattering, Ottawa, ON, Canada (2010)
11. Faraday Discussion Meeting, Self-Assembly of Biopolymers, Bristol (16-18 September 2013)

Selected Synergistic Activities (1) Member, Swedish Research Council, Committee on The Status of Condensed Matter Physics in Sweden (2004-2006). (2) Member, National Research Council of the National Academies’ Committee on (i) Developing a Federal Materials Facilities Strategy (1999), and (ii) Biomolecular Materials and Processes (2006-2008). (3) Member, External Site Visitor Review Committee, DOE-BES review of materials science and engineering programs, Argonne National Labs. (May 2011). (4) Member, Chemical Gene & Cell Therapy Committee, American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT) (2010-2013). (5) Member, (i) Condensed Matter and Materials Research Committee (2012-2014), and (ii) Committee on Societal Benefits from Condensed Matter and Materials Research (2012-2013), National Research Council of the National Academies.

Phone: 805-893 8635 (office)
(805) 893 4859 (laboratory)
(805) 893 5366 (Administrative Assistant)
FAX: (805) 893 7221

E-mail: safinya [at] mrl [dot] ucsb [dot] edu