Science Board

Adilson E. Motter is the Charles Morrison Professor of Physics at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he has been an Endowed Professor since 2011. He received his Ph.D. degree in 2002 and, prior to joining the Northwestern faculty in 2006, held positions as Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at LANL and as Guest Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems. Motter’s honors include a Sloan Research Fellowship, an NSF CAREER Award, the Weinberg Award for Excellence in Mentoring, the Erdös-Rényi Prize in Network Science, and a Simons Foundation Fellowship. Motter is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He has served on the editorial boards of various journals, including Chaos, Nonlinearity, and Physical Review X, and as the Chair of the APS Topical Group on Statistical & Nonlinear Physics.

Motter's research is focused on the dynamical behavior of complex systems and networks. In recent work, he established the converse of symmetry breaking in network systems, which is a scenario in which system asymmetry is required for the stability of a symmetric state (or population heterogeneity is required for individuals to reach consensus). In previous research, his group derived conditions for the synchronization of power grids and other networks and developed approaches to model and mitigate cascading failures in various systems. He and his collaborators also developed the concept of synthetic rescue in network biology and designed the first class of mechanical metamaterials to exhibit negative compressibility along the direction of the applied force. Over the years, he also helped develop scalable methods for the control of nonlinear network dynamics, including network cascades, and investigated applications of these methods for the recovery of lost function in biological, ecological, and physical systems.