Animal, Vegetal, Mineral? Boden Research Conference


We hosted organised the 2016 Boden Research conference “Animal, Vegetal, Mineral”, held in Yallingup / Western Australia, from 19-23 Sept 2016, on the emergence and function of complex nanostructures in biological tissue and synthetic self-assembly. Here’s the final report and what attendees had to say about it:

Final Report

“… a superb and stimulating conference. The ‘cross-cultural’ aspect of getting biologists, physicists, mathematicians, chemists and engineers together made it particularly powerful in finding ways forward. It showed the power of mixing it up – something we should do more.” (Justin Marshall, University of Queensland)

Summary and Reflection


Caves House Hotel (Photograph: Robert Corkery)

The meeting was designed to encourage open and broad discussions between biologists, physicists, mathematicians, chemists and materials scientists. The idea was to explore the divide between the biological and the natural sciences, and draw out both the common features of living and dead systems and their essential differences. The spirit of the meeting was captured well by the following quote from one of the discussion themes: Have physics, chemistry and mathematics learnt from biology? Are physics, chemistry and mathematics contributing to biology as effectively as they could?  These are big questions, which are difficult to address head-on. Rather, we chose to invite a number of key researchers from areas including plant photosynthesis, animal coloration and vision studies, active granular matter, geometry and visualisation, liquid crystals, biomineralisation, intermolecular forces, peptide materials and proteomics and origami and kirigami.

By deliberately mixing scientific communities, but programming expository talks of longer duration by some of the world’s experts in these areas mixed with shorter contributed talks and posters, we achieved an extraordinary level of communication across otherwise quarantined fields and disciplines. In total around 80 scientists attended, and all contributed to the substantial discussions that were encouraged both during and after presentations. It was a very demanding meeting intellectually, with a deliberate mix of topics in each session to avoid a natural tendency to retreat into our own specialities and communities. The guiding ethos was to explore what we do not know, rather than to trumpet what we do know. The level of enthusiasm grew throughout the week, and by the end of the meeting there was an extraordinary degree of engagement and thoughtful discussion.

Despite the appalling weather Yallingup was an excellent venue. The geographical isolation and beauty of the area surely encouraged a mood of openness and honest, frank discussion. The meeting was highly unconventional in its attempt to straddle deep divides between the disciplines, yet it worked. And that success must be ascribed in a large part to the extreme care with which all speakers devoted to preparing their presentations. There was palpable nervousness by all speakers (from  bright students to FRS’s), who worked hard to make their work generally understandable to those in very different fields. Those efforts in turn encouraged inquisitive and open-minded discussions that included all attendees. That effort reflected the nature of the week, that was a unique forum for intense debate and discussion across scientific sub-cultures. A surprising number of attendees (from post-docs to very senior researchers) commented to us that they “learnt a lot” from other fields. Clearly, we succeeded in inspiring the attendees to open up to very different approaches and questions to those practised in the normal course of their research. The feedback at the end of the meeting was effusive, see quotes on page 3 and onwards, and is well summarized by Professor Leslie Dutton FRS:

Many thanks for including me in [this] stimulating and fun – unforgettable I think- meeting. The unusual title […] heralded what proved to be a very remarkable five days of science that succeeded – as you must have hoped – to marry common physics, chemistry and structural fundamentals with a wide range of biological phenomena that impact our lives. You attracted to the meeting gifted, practicing research scientists who were skilled in the arts of presentation. The mood you conferred on the meetings proceedings encouraged thorough and genuinely enquiring – critical – discussion. For me I learned a lot about biological systems with which I was unfamiliar and which I will be taking home where I will surely consider what contributions I may make to them through extensions of my own research.

In short, Animal Vegetal Mineral was a bold and successful attempt to encourage nearly 80 scientists from Australia, Europe, Asia and the Americas to think more fundamentally about their connections to the broader community of scientists, and look in detail “over the fence” that is more usually divided life from natural scientists and mathematicians from lab- and field-based researchers.

In Numbers


  • Dr Charlotte Conn, RMIT University
  • Dr Myfanwy Evans, Technical University Berlin, Germany
  • Prof Stephen Hyde, Australian National University
  • Dr Gerd Schröder-Turk, Murdoch University
  • Dr Bodo Wilts, Adolphe Merkle Institute Fribourg, Switzerland

Sponsoring associations:

Scientific presentations:

  • 11 keynote lectures
  • 10 invited talks
  • 27 contributed talks
  • 23 poster presentations


  • 76 participants
  • 50 international participants (11 Americas, 11 UK, 3 Singapore, 3 Japan, 2 China, 1 Russia, 19 continental Europe)
  • interdisciplinary audience (approximately 10% biochemistry, 12% biology, 12% chemistry, 10% materials science, 13% maths, 16% physics, 17% theoretical physics, and others)
  • 26 professors

Appraisals from the Attendees

 Many thanks for including me in your and Stephen’s stimulating and fun – unforgettable I think- meeting.” “The unusual title of this meeting heralded what proved to be a very remarkable five days of science that succeeded – as you must have hoped – to marry common physics, chemistry and structural fundamentals with a wide range of biological phenomena that impact our lives. You attracted to the meeting gifted, practicing research scientists who were skilled in the arts of presentation. The mood you conferred on the meetings proceedings encouraged thorough and genuinely enquiring – critical – discussion. For me I learned a lot about biological systems with which I was unfamiliar and which I will be taking home where I will surely consider what contributions I may make to them through extensions of my own research.”

(Prof Leslie Dutton FRS, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics)

I’m writing to express my thanks for helping to organise this AVM2016 meeting, which has succeeded on all levels. The scope of the meeting seemed so wide initially, with mathematics, butterfly wings, vision, photosynthesis and many more topics. But there was always an overriding intellectual premise about nanoscale organisation manifested on much longer length scales and it has worked out brilliantly. Furthermore, you and Stephen engendered a wonderful collegiate atmosphere among the participants, helped in part by the great venue and surroundings. This has been a challenging, intriguing and wonderful meeting.”

(Prof Neil Hunter FRS, Krebs Professor of Biochemistry, University of Sheffield, UK)




(Prof Antonia Monteiro, Singapore National University)

Fantastic Boden conference (Animal, Vegetal, Mineral) organized by outstanding scientists!!! The interdisciplinary scientific content was very refined and extremely interesting and precious! The organization was perfect!!! Thank you so much! I enjoyed the pioneering, enthusiastic and friendly atmosphere created by Gerd, Bodo and Steve, the presentations on highly selected scientific subjects, the presence of leading colleagues, and many fruitful discussions. Great opportunity to learn novelties from several scientific disciplines (mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, engineering) studying self-assembly both in living matter and materials world. The conference location was very beautiful and relaxing. What a pleasure to breath fresh (unpolluted) air. Nature is fantastic in Australia! Unforgettable social events: looking for jumping whales on a small boat in the huge Ocean! For a first time, I saw a kangaroo running in the wild. Outstanding Science at Murdoch University (Perth) and ANU, plus the Nature of Yallingup: this remains unique and magnificent combination! Unforgettable! Great thanks to the Sponsors too!!! I hope very much that excellent sponsorship will continue in order to make further interdisciplinary meetings and indispensable scientific events possible.


(Prof Angelina Angelova, University Paris-Sud XI)

“The conference was fantastic. Coming from the biological field it was so great to be able to talk to a crowd of physicists, mathematicians, and fellow biologists who genuinely were interested in hearing about protein complexes, organelles, membrane structures etc. Overall the atmosphere was very pleasant inviting for a lot of good discussions, which might lead to new collaborations, and indeed new ways of thinking about my own research field and new questions to ask. I go to quite a few conferences – mostly within my field photosynthesis – but I must admit that the Boden conference made a lasting impression and when colleagues ask about the conference I enthusiastically tell about it. More concretely I was asked if I would contribute to a similar conference/workshop in the US in a couple of years and of course I agreed to that. I believe that this Boden conference indeed facilitated genuine interdisciplinary research.”
(Prof Poul Erik Jensen, Head of Copenhagen Plant Science Center, Denmark)

“The Yallingup meeting was fantastic! I must really thank you for all that you did to realize it.“
(Adj Prof Greg Huber, University of California, Santa Barbara)

“The Animal, Vegetal, Mineral? Boden research conference in Yallingup, WA was fantastic. It is wonderful anytime a diverse group, in this case biologists, chemists, mathematicians, engineers and physicists come together and learn to speak a common language and discover they have common research problems. Here, we focused on questions such as What can biology teach mathematics? and What does mathematics have to give back? in the context of nanostructure, function, colour and optics. This style of interdisciplinary meeting is wonderful for the intellectual growth of many fields, because in communicating to an audience with different backgrounds from one’s own, ingrained assumptions are challenged and the resulting dialogue makes everyone a stronger scientist.”
(Ass Prof Elisabetta Matsumoto, Georgia Tech, School of Physics, Atlanta, USA)

“Thank you very much for organising such a wonderful and inspiring meeting and for inviting me to speak at it. Unlike most conferences I attend, the topics covered were so diverse that I learnt a huge amount in a short space of time – and at the same time faced the extent of my own ignorance of vast swathes of science! I found it very stimulating to meet leaders of fields that I knew very little about, and through talking to them to have sparks of ideas for taking forward my own research. I thought the informal format you chose worked well to encourage discussions both during the sessions and beyond. As first visits to new countries (continents) go, this was a memorable experience indeed, and for all the right reasons.”
(Prof George Attard, Southhampton University, UK)

“A fantastic experience, diversity of topics and great inspiration!”
(Dr Christian Scholz, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany)

“This meeting is the best conference I have ever attended so far (not exaggerated at all!), and hope there are more these kinds of good conference coming in the future. I like this conference a lot for the following reasons:
(1). Organizers paid a great lot of attentions in creating the right (intimate and warm) atmosphere to allow scientists from all very different backgrounds to meet and discuss their work without much prejudice. Also the conference encouraged people to ask the naïve questions to promote the good mutual interaction among the participants to discuss good sciences. Someone like me who did not like to ask questions in public (shy in nature) consider this is the excellent conference to let me interact with other well-known scientists from the other fields without too much problem, therefore I got the chance to know good scientists (Mohan and Konrad and many others as well) and were able to ask very naïve questions without worry to be laughed at all.
(2). The topics of talks have been nicely arranged and cover from various disciplines such as applied mathematic, physics, physical chemistry, biophysics and biochemistry to biology. This helps in the fruitful discussion about some fundamental questions raised about the formation mechanism and function for some very similar nanostructure of both synthetic and biological materials.
(3). The following winter school is perfect to provide the opportunities for the extended discussion and learning experience for the involved lecturers (not only for the students). A day of excursion to Rottnest Island for the biking is awesome! Also I enjoyed very much the dinner at Gerd’s house with his lovely family in addition to the delicious Indian food cooked by a great Scientist Mohan Srinivasarao! Although we were quite busy in learning during the whole winter school period but we had great time in the bar after the lecture hours as well.
I really appreciate the conference and summer school you have organized and I did enjoy and have great time for both good science discussion and making new friends with those excellent scientists.
Thank you, Gerd again together with Stephen and Bodo to organize such a remarkable conference, and I think all is because of your doing things with heart!”
(Prof Yuru Deng, Wengzhou University, China)

“The Boden conference was extremely successful. The mix of mathematicians, physicists, chemists, biologists and materials scientists was tremendously stimulating and cross-fertilising in terms of ideas. The talks were of a very high standard and the level of questions and discussion was also high. The venue was fantastic, giving lots of time to participants to meet for discussions, in a relaxing and beautiful environment. Altogether the best conference I have been to since the last one you, Stephen Hyde and colleagues organised on ‘Geometry of Interfaces’  in Primosten, Croatia in 2011.”
(Prof John Seddon, Imperial College London, London, UK)

“The Boden Research Conference Animal – Vegetal – Mineral in September 2016 in Yallingup was a most inspiring event. With its focus on “complex shapes” and their various appearances in nature the organizers of the conference brought together a variety of world-class scientists from experimental biology to theoretical physics and mathematics. Many of the participants met for the first time but the warm atmosphere of conference location and the carefully selected speakers and scientific program quickly produced an exciting joint scientific research focus. As mathematician I was overwhelmed by the experimental evidence of highly structured shapes appearing in various biological settings, and the need for a still missing formal language of their properties. For example, cubical surface structures appear as the source of vibrant colors of butterflies as well as lipid bilayers inside cells, but the mathematical formalization can hardly explain their geometry yet, though simplified shapes have been well studied in minimal surface theory. Many properties and connections of these complex shape are far from being sufficiently observed or understood yet. The conference raised a novel momentum to intensify research on complex shapes, especially by bringing scientists, for the first time, together from a variety of related disciplines.”
(Prof Konrad Polthier, Mathematisches Institut, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany)

“It was the most inspiring conference I’ve ever attended because of the range of topics that were presented. Interdisciplinary research is said to be of growing importance and, to be honest, this does not come as a surprise for a biologist. Biology is full of examples where you would love to have a physicist, physicist, chemist, mathematician or engineer close at hand to get things explained that are beyond your own knowledge. Apart from that, techniques that have been developed in any of those fields might be useful to answer biological questions. But how do you know a collaboration would push your research forward, if you are not even aware of what is going on in other disciplines?
This conference provided a perfect environment to talk to engineers and scientists from different fields and ask everything you ever wanted to. Everyone was very friendly, eager to help and willing to explain the most basic questions. The organizers had made sure to mix the talks so that you would learn about butterflies and origami in one session. This does stimulate creative thinking and really helps to notice common principles and cross borders. Under the pressure that scientists are nowadays, we tend to forget that the best ideas often come from looking at something apparently unrelated. It was this kind of inspiration that made the conference so special in my opinion.
There were more aspects that contributed to the success of the event, of course. The organizers had picked a beautiful, rural location and made sure that the weather was so cold and rainy during all days expect the free afternoon, that nobody felt an urge to leave the heated conference room. Thus, there was plenty of time for discussions and small talk. Magically, the sky brightened up on the free afternoon and nature showed its whole beauty. We had several group activities to choose from and all of them seemed to be equally attractive. I tried surfing for the first time in my life with a few other beginners. We all had great fun and I think physical activities like this are important because they help bonding to people. If you can rely on someone in the water, you feel confident to trust than person otherwise as well. Last but not least, the conference dinner was a fantastic opportunity to get in touch with people you had not talked to before, and the food was delicious!”
(Dr Miriam Henze, University of Queensland, Brisbane)

“An interdisciplinary top-class conference set in a unique and stimulating location. It was a pleasure to participate in AVM and discuss the current research questions in and between the specific fields. I would definitely come back again.”
(Jessica Huss, PhD student, Plant Sciences, Max-Planck Institute Potsdam)

“The meeting was just phenomenal from my perspective – The breadth and depth of the coverage of the subject matter was stunning, and allowed me learn things that I never would have run into!  I was truly inspired by the meeting and now I am thinking about how to begin working in some of the areas that I heard in the meeting.  As I said, I would never have run into a number of things that were talked about in the meeting.  This meeting was so successful that I am now going to collaborate with at least two of the invited speakers and I had never known about their work.  That is a marvelous outcome of the meeting.  I also, inspired by this meeting, am going to write a proposal to have a follow up for this meeting at the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2018.  I would not have thought of this had I not been at this meeting and as far as I am concerned I consider the meeting a phenomenal success both personally and otherwise. I look forward to participating in future meetings.”
(Prof Mohan Srinivasarao, Materials Science, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, USA)

“I really enjoyed the breadth of topics covered at the conference and the extended discussion time after each talk. There was genuine engagement between specialists from each discipline area. From my own research perspective it was encouraging to see that real-space 3D data of self-assembled structures are now being acquired by electron-tomographic techniques, as this should be a nice application area for my topological image analysis algorithms. I’m starting to explore similar structures generated by Jacob Kirkensgaard’s molecular dynamics simulations.


Also I had a very helpful discussion with Konrad Poltier about geometric realisations of abstract symmetry groups for surfaces of genus-g. He has explored this question for surfaces embedded in R^3, and I’ve worked on the case of surfaces in the 3-torus.


A motif that arose in a number of talks was a lack of clarity about what happens at the boundaries of the self-assembled cubic phases. This seems to me to be a largely unexplored area, and will require both physical reasoning and new mathematical explorations of geometric forms. The boundaries are important both in understanding stability of synthetic cubosomes, the formation of photonic crystals in butterfly wing scales and observed adjacencies between domains adopting different structures.”
(Dr Vanessa Robins, Applied Maths, RSPhysSE, Australian National University)

“Thank you sooooo much for organising such a wonderful conference! The complex nanostructures in biological tissue and related liquid crystal and synthetic soft materials. … It is amazing that so many excellent scientist working in different research field coming from the whole world attended the conference and had fruitful discussions. I learnt a lot in the week and I really enjoyed this conference…, especially the long discussions after each talk. … This is the best conference I have ever attended!“
(Assoc Prof Lu Han, Department of Chemistry, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China)

“it was a life changing trip. I was fairly sure I wanted to pursue a career in research, but since the trip – I’m certain!”
(Callum Kemp, undergraduate student, Murdoch University)

“I want to thank the AVM conference organising committee for bringing such a high-quality programme to our local community. Attending gave me a rare opportunity to hear talks by distinguished researchers from a range of scientific fields, talk to them directly, and be inspired by their results. Through being exposed to concepts that cross disciplinary boundaries, I am now aware of potential further applications for my research.”
(Jason Whyte, Ph.D. student, MASCOS and ACEMS, The School of Mathematics & Statistics, The University of Melbourne)

“The Boden Research Conference “Animal, Vegetal, Mineral” in Yallingup was an outstanding experience. Renowned experts from all over the world covering a broad spectrum of research interests, including biology, physics, mathematics and materials science, came together to report their newest research progress and discuss open questions and problems. This symbiosis of different subjects enabled an unique opportunity to shed light onto the field of (amongst others) complex geometries in nature, their evolution and their potential for biomimetic applications. There was always a very relaxed atmosphere and plenty of time for discussions after each scientific contribution. The food was excellent and the landscape around the conference venue was breathtakingly beautiful! I am really happy for having attended this conference! The organizers did a very good job and I am looking forward to the next conference like this!”
(Dr Benjamin Winter, Materials Science, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany)

“As a PhD student, I found this conference a great place to meet people and listen to talks covering a wide range of topics! Being a moderate sized conference and having well-spaced out talks with enough time for questions, AVM really really promoted a lot more interactions and thoughts! I found it a really amazing and stimulating atmosphere.”
(Anupama Prakash, PhD student, Developmental Biology, Singapore National University)

“Animal, Vegetal, Mineral has been a vibrant, warm and immensely enjoyable scientific meeting that I will remember for a very long time. The excellent blend of topics and speakers gave rise to fascinating and thought-provoking discussions at every turn.”
(Prof Peter Vukusic, Biophotonics group, School of Physics, Exeter University, UK)

“Many many thanks for the fantastic job that you guys did. It was certainly one of the best and most inspiring conferences I’ve ever attended. Also, a personal big thank you to you for helping me with the accommodation.”
(Dr Mohammad Saadatfar, Department of Applied Maths, RSPSE, The Australian National University)

“The conference Animal, Vegetal, Mineral? was a wonderful interdisciplinary forum which brought together researchers from such diverse fields as mathematics, physics, and biology. The connections between biology and mathematics were particularly intriguing to me, and it was a theme that ran through most of the talks given. Certainly, the represented groups of researchers have benefited this week from fruitful discussions with those in other research areas. I hope such interdisciplinary conferences will continue forward from here.”
(Dr Michael Assis, MASCOS, The University of Melbourne)

“Dear Gerd, Bodo and Stephen! Many thanks for organising such a superb and stimulating conference. The ‘cross-cultural’ aspect of getting biologists, physicists, mathematicians, chemists and engineers together made it particularly powerful in finding ways forward. It showed the power of mixing it up – something we should do more.”
(Prof Justin Marshall, Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland)

“This conference was an incredible chance to find potential collaborators and intellectual challenges that I had not found from conferences close to home in the US. It truly fulfilled the spirit of interdisciplinary science, with everything working in concert to equip us to question and contribute to the week-long conversation. As an early-stage PhD student, I am grateful to have had the time to dialogue with such a diverse and accomplished group. I look forward to answering the questions I have received and building on the connections that I have made.”
(Douglas Hall, PhD student, University of Massachussets, Amherst)

“I found it to be a truly remarkable inter-disciplinary meeting, where I learned so much about fields other than my own, and had many interesting and productive conversations. I expect that there will be collaborations in the future, arising from these connections. The conference itself was run smoothly, in a most beautiful part of the world, with the right balance of sessions, breaks, catering and other activities. The conference dinner was spectacular.”
(Stuart Ramsden, National Computational Infrastructure, Canberra)

“This has been one of the best conferences I have ever been to. As an applied mathematician this conference has provided me with an opportuninty to meet with scientists from a broad range of disciplines, including physics, chemistry, biology and material sciences – whom I may not have otherwise been able to interact with. As such this conference has been useful in generating new avenues of research and future collaborations. A unique feature of the meeting was the extended opportunity for question-and-answer sessions at the end of each talk. This allowed the audience (comprised of scientists from diverse backgrounds) to reach a meaningful consensus and gave everyone the feeling of being truly involved in the process. I have already decided to use this conference as a template to structure future meeting that I will hold in my own work.”
(Dr Adil Mughal, Mathematics Department, Aberystwyth University, Wales)

“A very well organized meeting with great talks. Well worth traveling to the end of the world for!”
(Assoc Prof Jacob Kirkensgaard, Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark)

“As an undergraduate and never having attended a scientific conference before, I was unsure of exactly what to expect from the proceedings and what benefit I may receive from them. I was completely amazed by the open exchange of interdisciplinary ideas and knowledge presented at the conference, both formally in scheduled talks and informally within the community for the duration of the conference. With the benefit of so many world class researchers in so many varied, but interrelated fields gathered in one place with a common theme, I am sure many advancements in the field will come about as a direct result of the information exchanged and possibilities proposed within the conference proceedings. From a personal viewpoint, I have come away with a much broader range of knowledge within the soft-matter physics field, and a wealth of professional contacts with which to potentially collaborate with in the future, but perhaps the most valuable point that has been made clear to me (as an undergraduate) is how deep this field is, how much there is still to uncover and how vital it will be for me to collaborate with these same researchers in the future. Although I’d heard it said that being a lone researcher was a thing of the past, it is now abundantly clear to me that it is absolutely impossible for any one researcher to do work of any substance without being part of a broader community with cross disciplinary knowledge. For me, this conference was extremely valuable and I’m sure it will have a large influence on my scientific career for many years to come.”
(Allan Millsteed, undergraduate student, Murdoch University)
Scientific Presentations


Keynote lectures

  • Prof Richard Prum, Yale University, USA: Optical Evo-Devo: Self-Assembly and Evolution of Bio-Optical Nanostructures
  • Prof Poul Erik Jensen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark: Plant chloroplasts development – cubic membrane structures and their components
  • Prof Konrad Polthier, Free University Berlin, Germany: Covering and Uncovering Surfaces
  • Prof Neil Hunter, University of Sheffield, UK: Biogenesis, structure and function of photosynthetic membrane proteins
  • Prof John Seddon, Imperial College London, UK: Bicontinuous and Discontinuous Lipid Cubic Phases
  • Prof Peter Vukusic, University of Exeter, UK: New twists in circular polarisation reflection from scarab beetles
  • Prof Mohan Srinivasarao, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, USA: Spontaneous emergence of Chirality and self-assembly
  • Prof George Attard, University of Southampton, UK: When does the inanimate become animate? (and does it matter?)
  • Prof Justin Marshall, University of Queensland, Australia: Stomatopod crustaceans: optical data storage, cancer detection and satellite design through natures nanostructures.
  • Prof Leslie Dutton, University of Pennsylvania, USA: Toward biogenesis of first-principle design and construction of light and redox proteins working in cells
  • Prof Yuru Deng, Changzhou University, China: Living crystals: biological cubic membranes

Invited talks

  • Dr Angelina Angelova, CNRS/University Paris-Sud XI, France: Bio-inspired self-assembled amphiphilic nanoarchitectures
  • Prof Barry Ninham, Australian National University, Australia : Molecular Forces: Changing concepts & complexity with dissolved gas, bubbles, salt & heat
  • Dr Annela Seddon, University of Bristol, UK: Transitions between lipid sponge phases and oriented lipid cubic phases
  • Prof Tommy Nylander, Lund University, Sweden: The non-lamellar lipid aqueous interface and biomolecular interactions
  • Adj Prof Greg Huber, University of California, Santa Barbara: Geometry and Topology of the Endoplasmic Reticulum: Terasaki Ramps and Beyond
  • Prof Antonia Monteiro, National University of Singapore, Singapore: The developmental genetics of structural color in butterfly wings
  • Dr Celine Valery, RMIT, Australia: Atomic view of bio-inspired pH-responsive peptide nanotubes: relevance to biology and nanomaterials
  • Prof Cait MacPhee, University of Edinburgh, UK
  • Dr Rob Corkery, KTH Stockholm, Sweden: On the colour of butterflies containing gyroid photonic crystals
  • Prof Ian Small, University of Western Australia, Australia: Controlling gene expression with repeated motif nucleic acid binding protein

Contributed talks & poster presentations

  • Dr Zakaria Almsherqi
    National University of Singapore, Singapore
    Linking structure and potential function of cubic membranes in biological tissues
  • Dr Michael Assis
    University of Melbourne, Australia
    Origami tessellations and vertex models in membrane folding
  • Prof Gary Bryant
    RMIT, Australia
    Freezing and dehydration damage in biological tissue – the physics behind the biology
  • Dr Toen Castle
    UPenn, USA
    Kirigami as a formalism for cell growth in 2D sheets
  • Dr Liliana de Campo
    ANSTO, Lucas Heights, Australia
  • Dr Gary Delaney
    CSIRO, Australia
    From Mineral Ores to 3D Printed Bones – A Naturally Inspired and Data Driven Approach
  • Sebastian Ehrig
    Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Potsdam, Germany
    Growing tissues feel curvature: how spatial boundaries affect tissue formation in 3D
  • Research Professor Vadim Frolov
    University of the Basque Country, Spain
    Nanoscale Self-Assembly During Membrane Remodeling
  • Prof Bruce Gardiner
    Murdoch University Perth
    Maintenance and adaption of the structure-function relationshiops in Achilles tendon
  • Dr Chris Garvey
    ANSTO, Lucas Heights, Australia
    Spirals Within Spirals – Materials Engineering in Green Plants
  • Prof Jemal Guven
    Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico
    The rise and fall of free masonry arches
  • Douglas Hall
    University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA
    How geometric frustration shapes chiral filament bundles inside and out
  • Assoc Prof Lu Han
    Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China
    Interconversion of Triply Periodic Constant Mean Curvature Surface Structures
  • Dr Miriam Henze
    University of Queensland, Australia
    How damselflies become colourful
  • Jessica Huss
    Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Potsdam, Germany
    Structure-function relationships in Banksia follicles
  • Jakov Lovric
    Institute Ruđer Bošković, Croatia
    Morphological properties of the epithelial tissue
  • Dr Ricardo Mancera
    Curtin University, Australia
    The role of post-translational modifications in the folding of intrinsically disordered Tau protein in Alzheimer’s disease
  • Allan Millsteed
    Murdoch University
    Gyroid-like nanostructures in butterfly wing-scales
  • Prof James Mitchell
    Flinders University, Australia
    The role diatom nanostructure in constraining diffusion for selecting nutrients
  • Dr Adil Mughal
    Aberystwyth University, Wales, UK
    Phyllotaxis, disk packing and Fibonacci numbers
  • Prof Toshihiko Oka
    Shizuoka University, Japan
    Single Crystallization of an Inverse Bicontinuous Cubic Phase
  • Kate Oliver
    University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
    An Open-Source 3D-printer for Creating Bioinspired Shape-changing Hydrogels
  • Dr Drew Parsons
    Murdoch University, Australia
    Cation effects on protein aggregation: balance of chemisorption against physisorption of ions
  • Prof Nipam Patel
    University of California – Berkeley, USA
    The Developmental and Genetic Basis of Structural Color in Butterflies
  • Sandy Peterhänsel
    University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany
    Detection of nanometer size differences through human color vision
  • Anupama Prakash
    NUS, Singapore
    Sexually dimorphic colouration in the blue pansy, Junonia orithya
  • Dr Vanessa Robins
    The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
    High-symmetry low genus triply-periodic surfaces
  • Dr Mohammad Saadatfar
    Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
    Multiscale wood analysis in 4D
  • Dr Vinod Saranathan
    Yale-NUS, Singapore
    Self-assembly of Biophotonic Nanostructures in Arthropods and Birds
  • Fabian Schaller
    FAU, Erlangen, Germany
    Minkowski Tensor Cell Shape Analysis
  • Dr Christian Scholz
    FAU, Erlangen, Germany
    Collective Motion and Segregation in a Granular System of Active Rotors
  • Philipp Schönhofer
    Murdoch University, Perth, Australia
    The Gyroid phase in a System of Pear-shaped Liquid crystals
  • Prof Matt Shawkey
    University of Gent, Belgium
    Bio-inspired optical nanostructures
  • Yusuke Takahashi
    Kindai University, Japan
    Regular Arrangement on the P-Surface
  • Hideaki Tanaka
    Kindai University, Japan
    Regular Arrangement on the D-Surface
  • Dr Benjamin Winter
    FAU, Erlangen, Germany
    Accessing the 3D microstructure of complex geometric, biological structures
  • Jason Whyte
    University of Melbourne, Australia
    Can we use a mathematical model of a biomolecular interaction network to determine regimes where particular complexes are assembled preferentially?
    Does your mathematical model already know the value of your planned binding experiments?
  • Prof Stephan Wolf
    FAU, Erlangen, Germany
    Genesis and Mimesis of a wide-spread process-structure-property relationships in calcareous biominerals
  • Ayham Zaitouny
    UWA, Perth, Australia
    Nonlinear Mathematical Model to Explore the Flocking Behaviour Based on GPS data

Opening Statement by the Chief Scientist of Western Australian

The following opening statement was transmitted (in absentia) by Professor Peter Klinken, Chief Scientist of Western Australia, to the meeting delegates:

“Kaya noonakort”, which means “hello everyone” in the language of the Nyoongar people, who have inhabited this part of south west Australia for 50,000 years.

“Nidja Wardandi boodja”, which means “this is the land of the Wardandi clan”, the ocean people of the Nyoongar nation.

As Chief Scientist of Western Australia, I am very sorry that I can’t be there to welcome the delegates to this important meeting in Yallingup, one of my favourite places on the planet. I hope the weather is great and that the surf is up. What a great place to see the energy of the ocean connect with surfers in an exquisite dance between man and mother nature – something that may be particularly relevant to the theme of the meeting. I trust you all have an extremely productive time discussing the exciting topics on your agenda, and I look forward to hearing the outcomes of this meeting.

Very best wishes to you all.

Professor Peter Klinken
Chief Scientist of Western Australia



(This final report was put together by Gerd Schroeder-Turk and Stephen Hyde)

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