Genealogies in expanding populations reveal new universality classes.
This event is part of the Physics Department Colloquia Series.
Reaction-diffusion waves describe diverse natural phenomena from crystal growth in physics to tumor growth in biology. Many aspects of these phenomena are stochastic because expanding entities---whether atoms or cells---are discrete. A quantitative description of fluctuations in growing populations remains an open problem. Recently, we have made significant progress in this direction by looking at physical processes through the lens of biology. I will show that expanding populations fall into one of three universality classes with very different physical and genetic properties. As a result, external perturbations can be used to control evolutionary outcomes in growing populations.