Prof. Michael B. Dennin

Contact Information

University of California, Irvine
4129 Frederick Reines Hall
Mail Code: 4575
Irvine, CA 92697

(949) 824-2995

Professor of Physics & Astronomy; Dean, Division of Undergraduate Education; UCI Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning [Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara]. Professor Dennin brings expertise in laboratory studies on the behavior of biologically relevant organics, including proteins, to the ORU.

Professor Dennin's main research interest is systems that exhibit emergent properties. These include the behavior of complex fluids, such as foam and sand, as well as the complex dynamics of biological systems. He also studies systems that are driven out of equilibrium and model systems for biological membranes. Some of the questions focused on in his lab include:

  • How does the spatial organization of lipid domains impact protein-membrane interactions?
  • Can we understand fluctuations during the flow of complex fluids in terms of an effective temperature?
  • Can we use fluctuations in probe particles to understand the response of biologically relevant networks to external stresses?

A number of model systems are studied in his lab in an attempt to answer these, and other, questions. One of the main tools is Langmuir monolayers (single layers of molecules at the airwater interface). This system offers an ideal environment for studying interfacial interactions that are relevant to biological processes. Current projects in biological physics consider the interaction between proteins and monolayers and the mechanical properties of actin- lipid complexes. These complexes play an important role in the structural integrity of cells. This work is done in collaboration with faculty from biology and chemistry.

Professor Dennin is well-known for popularizing science for the public and has taught many online courses on the nature of science. For a more detailed discussion of the research and fun pictures and movies, visit Professor Dennin's Home Page:

Research Interests: 
  • Experimental condensed matter
Selected Honors and Awards: 
UCI Senate Distinguished mid-Career Award for Service (2011-2012)
UCI Award for Instructional Technology (2008 - 2009)
UCI Extension UCI Irvine Faculty Award (2008 -2009)
UCI Academic Senate Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching (2007)
UCI Teaching Excellence Award, School of Physical Sciences (2006)
UCI Distinguished Assistant Professor Award for Research (2001 - 2002)
Cottrell Scholar (2000 - 2006)
Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow (2000 - 2004)
Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Fostering Undergraduate Research (2000)
Outstanding/Inspirational Professor within School of Physical Sciences (1999)
Research Innovation Award, presented by Research Corporation (March 1999)