Shenshen Wang

Shenshen Wang
Assistant Professor
Biophysics, Soft Condensed Matter Physics

Office: Knudsen 3-128
Phone: 310-825-8562
E-Mail: [javascript protected email address]

Educational Background: 
  • Ph.D. in Physics (Theoretical Biophysics), University of California, San Diego, 2012
  • M.Phil. in Physics, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 2007
  • B.S. in Physics, Nanjing University, 2005

    Positions held:

  • 11/2015-present: Assistant Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2012-2015: Postdoctoral Associate (Computational Immunology), Departments of Physics and Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, MA
Research Interest: 

I am interested in biophysical systems where collective responses emerge from a large and structured collection of interacting components. Two systems of main focus are the adaptive immune system (diverse populations of immune cells undergoing real-time evolution to fend off invaders and form memories) and active matter (a condensed matter system comprised of numerous self-driven subunits).   

Internally propelled or externally driven, these systems fall out of equilibrium, while being strongly nonlinear and heterogeneous in space and time. In addition, function and survival pose interesting constraints on their dynamics and organization. As a result, surprisingly complex (e.g. for adaptability) or simple (e.g. for robustness) behaviors arise that often defy intuition.

To decipher the surprise, we develop theoretical and computational models, and make concrete predictions to be tested by our experimental collaborators. We draw on and enliven tools/frameworks in statistical mechanics and concepts in condensed matter physics (e.g. frustration due to conflicting requirements, first observed in ferromagnets, might also underlie the rare and tardy development of cross-reactive antibodies, which are craved for protection against highly mutable pathogens).

We aim to understand how biological success selects physical organizations, as well as how the physical structure feeds back on adaptation to environmental uncertainty. This understanding would guide novel design of vaccine strategies and adaptive materials.           

Openings: If you are interested in working on these themes as a postdoc, graduate student or undergrad, please contact me at

Selected Publications: 


  • S. Wang, J. Mata-Fink, Herman Eisen, B. Kriegsman, M. Hanson, D. J. Irvine, D. R. Burton, K. D. Wittrup, M. Kardar, and A. K. Chakraborty. Manipulating the selection forces during affinity maturation to generate cross-reactive HIV antibodies. Cell 160, 785-797 (2015).
  • D. Sok, U. Laserson, J. Laserson, Y. Liu, F. Vigneault, J.-P. Julien, B. Briney, A. Ramos, K. F. Saye, K. Le,  A. Mahan, S. Wang, M. Kardar, G. Yaari, L. M. Walker, B. B. Simen, E. P. St. John, P.-Y. C.-Hui,  K. Swiderek, S. H. Kleinstein, G. Alter, M. S. Seaman, A. K. Chakraborty, D. Koller, I. A. Wilson, G. M. Church, D. R. Burton and P. Poignard. The effects of somatic hypermutation on neutralization and binding in the PGT121 family of broadly-neutralizing HIV antibodies. PLoS Pathog. 9, e1003754 (2013).
  • S. Wang and P. G. Wolynes. Microscopic theory of the glassy dynamics of passive and active network materials. J. Chem. Phys. 138, 12A521 (2013).
  • S. Wang and P. G. Wolynes. Active contractility in actomyosin networks. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 109, 6446-6451 (2012).
  • S. Wang and P. G. Wolynes. Tensegrity and motor-driven effective interactions in a model cytoskeleton. J. Chem. Phys. 136, 145102 (2012).
  • S. Wang and P. G. Wolynes. On the spontaneous collective motion of active matter. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 108, 15184-15189 (2011).
  • S. Wang and P. G. Wolynes. Communication: Effective temperature and glassy dynamics of active matter. J. Chem. Phys. 135, 051101 (2011).
  • S. Wang and T. K. Ng. Circular-polarization independence of microwave-induced resistance oscillations and the zero-resistance state. Phys. Rev. B 77, 165324 (2008).