Research/Areas of Interest:
Biological Physics, Condensed Matter Physics, Quantum Mechanics
My research interests cover a broad array of topics in biological physics, condensed matter physics and quantum mechanics. In biological physics our group is performing both experimental and theoretical work to uncover fundamental physical principles that underlie the formation of functional neuronal networks among neurons in the brain. One of the primary challenges in science today is to figure out how as many as 100 billion neurons are produced, grow, and organize themselves into the truly wonderful information-processing machine which is the brain. We combine high-resolution imaging techniques such as atomic force, traction force and fluorescence microscopy to measure mechanical properties of neurons and to correlate these properties with internal components of the cell. Our group is also using mathematical modeling based on stochastic differential equations and the theory of dynamical systems to predict axonal growth and the formation of neuronal networks. The aim of this work is twofold. On the one hand we are using tools and concepts from experimental and theoretical physics to understand biological processes. On the other hand, active biological processes in neuronal cells exhibit a wealth of fascinating phenomena such as feedback control, pattern formation, collective behavior, and non equilibrium dynamics, and thus the insights learned from studying these biological systems broaden the intellectual range of physics. I am also interested in the foundations of quantum mechanics, particularly in decoherence phenomena and in applying the theory of stochastic processes to open quantum systems. My interests in condensed matter physics include quantum transport in nanoscale systems (carbon nanotubes, graphene, polymer composites, hybrid nanostructures), as well as scanning probe microscopy investigations of novel biomaterials.
PhD Physics and Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, United States, 2005
MS Physics, University of Bucharest, Bucharest, Romania, 1998
DEA (Diplome d’Etudes Approfondies), Joseph Fourier University, Grenoble, France, 1997
BS Physics, University of Timisoara, Timisoara, Romania, 1997
Cristian Staii is Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Tufts University. He completed his PhD in physics at University of Pennsylvania. Before coming to Tufts he was a post-doctoral fellow at University of Wisconsin - Madison and at Princeton University. Professor Staii's research interest cover a broad arrays of topics in biological physics, scanning probe microscopy, condensed matter physics, and quantum mechanics. Broadly speaking his research can be categorized into four separate areas: (1) understanding the physical processes and feedback mechanisms that govern neuronal growth and the formation of neuronal networks; (2) cellular biomechanics; (3) high resolution scanning probe microscopy measurements of electronic, optical, and quantum properties of novel materials; and (4) understanding the physical processes that lead to decoherence and the quantum to classical transition.