James P. Sethna

412 Physical Sciences Building

142 Sciences Dr

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY 14853


Harvard University, Physics, BA 1977
Princeton University, Physics, MA 1978
Princeton University, Physics, PhD 1981
Cornell University, Post-doctoral Fellow, Physics, 1982–1983
Institute for Theoretical Physics, UCSB, Post-doctoral Fellow, Physics, 1981–82 and 1983–84

Professor of Physics, Cornell University 1995–present
Fifteenth Arnold Sommerfeld Lecturer, Ludwig-Maximilians Universit¨at, M¨unchen.
APS Outstanding Referee, 2012 Field of Biophysics, Cornell University 2010–present
Field of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, Cornell University 2010–present
Field of Computational Biology, Cornell University 2006–present
Program of Computational Science and Engineering, Cornell University 2005–present
International Faculty of the Technical University of Denmark, 2001–2006
Field of Applied Mathematics, Cornell University 1996–present
Associate Professor of Physics, Cornell University 1989–1995
Assistant Professor of Physics, Cornell University 1984–1989
Sloan and Presidential Young Investigator Awards, 1985



  • Science, “Imaging Atomic Rearrangements in Two-Dimensional Silica Glass: Watching Silica’s Dance”, Perspective in Science, “Structure and motion of a 2D glass”, Markus Heyde, Science 342, 201 (2013).
  • Science, “Parameter Space Compression Underlies Emergent Theories and Predictive Models”, Huffington Post blog and vblog on McGill’s The Physics Factor, “SoftMatters with Jim Sethna”.
  • Cover story in Nature, “Quasi-periodic events in crystal plasticity and the self-organized avalanche oscillator”,
  • Physical Review Letter, “Collective motion of moshers at heavy metal concerts”, NBC, National Geographic, Popular Science, New Scientist, Physics World, The Atlantic, The Chicago Reader, The Huffington Post (written by co-author J.L.S.), The Telegraph, ABC Science, MIT Technology Review - arXiv Blog, Spin, The Verge, Gizmodo, Examiner, Yahoo! News, Line Out @ The Stranger, Nerdcore @ Crackajack, Alt Press, News.com, AUX.tv, etafilter, Slashdot, Motherboard, The Creators Project, The Kevin Houston Blog, Synchronized Minds (Tommi Himberg Blog), Alan Cross Blog, CBC Music, Global Domination, NME, Metalsucks, Metal Injection, Metal Hammer, Animal, GSA, Thrash MTL, Tone Deaf, Ultimate Guitar, No Clean Singing, A Metal State of Mind, Braingell Radio, Blabbermouth, Jam Spreader, At Most Fear Entertainment, ToDaMax, Top News, Konbini, Sounds, Tert, NWT online, Lenta, Tempo, Nerd D3, XFM, Topix News, Ca Muz, iPon, Brooklyn Vegan, Dangerous Minds, KROQ, Neatorama, TEOTI, Videosift, Geekapolis, Syracuse, Rock NYC, Antimusic, Dailymail, Ga↵a, Knovel, Planet Ivy, Skru↵, Q103, Up the Downstair, The Sound and the Fury, Pedestrian TV, HLN, Ligonier Living, Pheonix New Times, The Ithaca Journal,and Reddit.
  • PLoS Computational Biology, “Senescent cells in growing tumors: population dynamics and cancer stem cells,” “Le staminali stanate dalla fisica”, Oggiscienza, “Melanoma. Linvecchiamento cellulare non ferma il cancro”, quotidianosanit`a. 
  • Physical Review Letters “Critical Casimir forces in cellular membranes”, “Casimir e↵ect: Across a crowded membrane,” Nature Physics News, (Abagail Klopper, 8, 641 (2012)); “A Casimir force for life”, Edwin Cartlidge, Physics World, October 10, 2012; “Material witness: Cell physics,” Philip Ball, Nature Materials News and Views 11, 915 (2012).
  • Physical Review Letters, “Bending crystals: Emergence of fractal dislocation structures”, “Computer models explain patterns in bent crystals” Nano techwire, PCB Design 007.
  • PRB, “Temperature dependence of the superheating field for superconductors in the high- London limit”, Nature News article, “Can triniobium tin shrink accelerators? Exotic superconductors promise savings”, Eric Hand, Nature 456, 555 (2008).
  • Physical Review Letters, “Mesoscale theory of grains and cells: crystal plasticity and coarsening”, Science Magazine, “Theory of Shock Waves Clears Up the Puzzling Graininess of Crystals” Adrian Cho, Science 311, 1361 (2006).
  • Nature, “Coulomb Blockade and the Kondo e↵ect in single atom transistors”, “Electronics and the single atom”, Nature News and Views by De Franceschi and Kouwenhoven, and “Cornell demos single-atom transistor”, R. Colin Johnson, EE Times.
  • Physical Review Letters, “Density of States in a Vortex Core and the Zero Bias Tunneling Peak,” Physics Today, “STM Unravels the Vortex Core In Type II Superconductors”, Anil Khurana, 43, 17 (June 1990).