Robert H. Austin

Robert H. Austin

Research Group in Biophysics; Princeton University

The Robert H. Austin Research Group in Biophysics is a research group based in the physics department of Princeton University which probes the biological limits of evolving organisms under stress.

The group’s research focuses primarily on the use of microarrays and nanotechnology to further the physical understanding of biological processes, such as the dynamics of cells when subjected to stress. The ultimate goal is to understand, and possible guide, the evolution of microrganisms by culturing them inside custom-made micro-environments.

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Robert H. Austin received his B.A. in Physics from Hope College in Holland MI and his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana in 1976. He did a post-doc at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry from 1976-1979 and has been at Princeton University in the Department from Physics from 1979 to the present, achieving the rank of Professor of Physics in 1989.


He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences USA. He has served as a President of the Division of Biological Physics of the American Physical Society, and is the present Chair of the U.S. Liaison Committee of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics. He has served as the biological physics editor for Physical Review Letters, serves on numerous review panels for NIH, NSF, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and NIST, and is the Editor of the Virtual Journal of Biological Physics. He won the 2005 Edgar Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society.


Austin’s present work is divided into at least four areas. All of his projects are aimed at using the techniques of physics to achieve a quantitative understanding of fundamental aspects of the evolution of biological systems.

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