Through art and science in their broadest senses it is possible to make a permanent contribution towards the improvement and enrichment of human life and it is these pursuits that we students are engaged in.

Frederick Sanger


Oleg Kogan, Assistant Professor

Theoretical biophysics

(718) 997-3390, Science Building, B-322.
California Institute of Technology, Ph.D., 2009.
Thesis: Stochastic and collective properties of nonlinear oscillators
Thesis advisor: Michael Cross

Case Western Reserve University, B.S., 2001.
Engineering Physics, magna cum laude.
PHYS 145.4 - Principles of Physics I
Interests:  Biophysical transport, collective biological dynamics, rare events and fluctuations in nonequilibrium systems.
I am currently looking for a postdoctoral researcher.  The theme of the work is biophysical transport inside cells.   The skill wishlist includes: experience of theoretical work with stochastic processes, including calculations of escape rates and mean first-passage times; familiarity with effective medium theory; background knowledge of cellular biology; experience with simulations of stochastic processes is helpful.  However, these are preferences, so if you're interested in the topic of bio-transport, have a strong mathematical background, and have interest in applying ideas from physics to biological settings - please contact me.

I am also looking for graduate students (Masters and Doctorate).  See the Research section for a brief description of topics.  You don't need to have any specialized knowledge.  If you have excelled mathematically as an undergraduate in your standard math and physics courses, you may be a good condidate for this work.  Beyod that, the most important thing is the motivation and desire to work hard.

Finally, there's always an opportunity for motivated undergraduates to work with me as well;  prior to CUNY I worked at an undergraduate-only institution, and have done research with many undergraduates that lead to publicatins and conference presentations.
I applly methods of statistical physics to solve problems in biophysics - with the focus on intracellular transport, population dynamics, and collective biological dynamics.

Statistical properties of cargo transport in biological cells.  Cells are complex systems in which multiple functions take place simultaneously.  Production, transport, and delivery of cargo between different organelles is an important part of the proper cell function.  Cargo is transported by special molecules called molecular motors that walk on cytoskeletal filaments.  The morphologies of these filaments can take on many forms, with varying degree of disorder.  In addition, cells are noisy environments, so motors tend to fall off the filaments, diffuse in the cytoplasm and rejoin other filaments.  Because of all the disorder and noise, questions concerning transport of cargo (time for delivery, time for getting stuck in local traffic jams, etc.) are naturally statistical.  This work intersects the subject of stochastic transport in disorderly environments, since microtubule morphologies tend to be disordered (possibly with applicaitons with bio-inspired materials).   Finally - organelles interact with each other by exchanging material.  This is called interactome.  It is of great interest to understand how the disturbance of this network affects transport functionality of the cell.  

If you're a student interested in using physics and math to understand biological world, please inquire.  I have many projects of various levels of difficulty and abstraction - starting from simple "exercises" that can lead to results quickly, to in-depth projects that would form PhD thesis.
Collective dynamics of swarmalators.  I also study collective dynamics of a specific type of active particles called "swarmalators",  with relevance to biological systems.  Swarmalators have an internal cycle (represented by a periodic variable), and these cycles can synchronize with each other - that is, oscillators that swarm.  The motion of each particle depends on the level of synchronization with other particles, and synchronization depends on the physical proximity of particles to each other.  This double-feedback produces complex collective states.  The goal is to understand collective behavior of swarmalators and connect with applications. Swarmalators have been implemented in condensed matter physics and in robotics.  There’s also a strong evidence that some animals – such as Japanese tree frogs and some microorganisms (sperm cells and some bacteria) may act as swarmalators.  Recently, colleagues and I studied the role of time delay in swarmalators, and found the existence of delay-induced phase phase transitions.  

If you're a new student and find this intruiguing, there are many tantalizing projects that are waiting to be addressed: connection of swarmalation with glass physics and frustration (we have some exciting results); dynamics of externally-forced swarmalators; applications to molecular robotics; using microtubules and molecular motors to form active swarms; nanorobots in complex environments.  Swarmalators are also a good test-bed for the study of nonequilibrium fluctuations.  
Representative publications:
  • Brooke Randell, Niranjan Sarpangala, Ajay Gopinathan, Oleg Kogan, Tunable intracellular transport on converging microtubule morphologies. Currently reviewed by a journal.  Preprint at arXiv: 2301.01264.
  • Andre Li, Nicholas Blum, Kevin O’Keeffe, Oleg Kogan, Swarmalators with delayed interactions.  Preprint at arXiv:2210.11417.  Accepted for publication to Phys. Rev. E. (2023).
  • Steffanie Stanley, Oleg Kogan, Fisher-Kolmogorov-Petrovsky-Piskunov dynamics mediated by a parent field with a delay, Phys. Rev. E 104, 034415 (2021). 
  • Varun Nimmagadda, Oleg Kogan, Evgeniy Khain, Path-dependent course of epidemic: are two phases of quarantine better than one?  Europhysics Letters 132(2), 28003 (2020).   
  • Noelle G. Beckman, Clare Aslan, Haldre S. Rogers, Oleg Kogan, Judith Bronstein, et. al., Advancing an interdisciplinary framework to study seed dispersal ecology.  AoB Plants 12(2), 1-18 (2019).
  • Oleg Kogan, Kevin O’Keeffe, Christopher Myers, Fragility of reaction-diffusion models to competing advective processes. Phys. Rev. E 96, 022220 (2017).
  • Oleg Kogan, Michael Khasin, Baruch Meerson, David Schneider, Christopher R. Myers, Two-strain competition in quasi-neutral stochastic disease dynamics. Phys. Rev. E 90, 042149 (2014).           
  • Tony E. Lee, G. Refael, M. C. Cross, Oleg Kogan, and Jeffrey L. Rogers, Universality in the one-dimensional chain of phase-coupled oscillators. Phys. Rev. E 80, 046210 (2009).
  • Oleg Kogan, Jeffrey L. Rogers, M. C. Cross, G. Refael, Renormalization Group Approach to Oscillator Synchronization. Phys. Rev. E 80, 036206 (2009).
  • Inna Kozinsky, Henk Postma, Oleg Kogan, Ali Husain, Michael Cross, Michael Roukes, Basins of Attraction of a Nonlinear Nanomechanical Resonator. Phys. Rev. Lett. 99, 207201 (2007).