Itai Cohen, professor of physics in the College of Arts & Sciences, studies the physics of matter in motion. Since joining Cornell in 2005, his research has focused on building microscopic robots, controlling the shear thickening behavior of microscopic and nanoscopic particles suspended in a fluid, exploring the mechanics of materials ranging from biological tissues to origami-inspired metamaterials, discovering the aerodynamic and neuromuscular mechanisms used by insects during flapping flight, and determining how audiences at heavy metal concerts coordinate their movement. Understanding how emergent behaviors arise from the microscopic rules governing these systems remains one of the biggest challenges in physics.
Professor Cohen received his B.S. in Physics from the University of California at Los Angeles and his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago. Following his graduate studies, he was a postdoctoral fellow in physics and the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at Harvard University. Professor Cohen is an NSF career grant recipient and a fellow of the American Physical Society, and he has served as a Feinberg and Braginsky Fellow (2012) and the Rosi and Max Varon Visiting Professor (2021) at the Weizmann Institute. He is also slated to be the van der Waals Visiting Professor at the University of Amsterdam (2022). Professor Cohen has published over 110 research articles; given nearly 300 invited seminars, colloquia, and conference presentations; and co-authored the book “Finding Your Research Voice: Story Telling and Theater Skills for Bringing Your Presentation to Life.” His work has been covered by various outlets, ranging from the BBC to NPR to The New York Times.