Professor Omar A. Saleh received his B.S. in Physics from MIT in 1997, and his Ph.D. in Physics from Princeton in 2003. His graduate studies were supported by a Hertz Fellowship. He was a post-doctoral fellow at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, France, where he developed single-molecule experimental techniques to study motor protein/DNA interactions. He came to UC Santa Barbara in 2005, where he is now a full professor with appointments in the Materials and Physics Departments. Since the summer of 2023, he is the Chair of the Materials Department. His research achievements were recognized by an NSF CAREER award in 2008, by a Bessel Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Society in 2017, and by his selection as a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2019 by the Division of Biological Physics.
The understanding of the microscopic workings of soft, biological systems is a great scientific challenge of this century. I approach this challenge from a curiosity-driven viewpoint aimed at determining fundamental principles of biomolecular behavior. Such principles help illuminate the basic processes governing life, and provide a template for practical applications based on biomimetic principles.
More specifically, I carry out experimental research in two areas: First, we study biopolymer elasticity. The mechanical properties of soft systems display a rich set of behaviors due to the interplay of entropic and energetic contributions to system structure, which we study using precision single-molecule stretching experiments. Second, we study biomimetic organelles: we are interested in creating life-like behavior with reconstituted assemblies of nucleic acids and proteins, which enables quantitative measurements of physical phenomena underlying biological function.
Mailing address: Department of Physics Broida Hall University of California Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9530