Tarazona, Pedro


Pedro Tarazona

Born in Barbastro (Huesca, 1955), in 1981 he received his PhD in Physical Sciences at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM), where he is now full professor in the Department of Theoretical Physics of Condensed Matter and coordinator for “Soft Condensed Matter and Biophysics” at ​​the IFIMAC Condensed Matter Physics Center.

His scientific career starts in his Ph.D. work with problems of Statistical Physics, in their applications to the study of liquids and interfaces. A postdoctoral stay at the University of Bristol (England) allowed his specialization in the theoretical methods of the density functional, with relevant works in the study of transitions of superficial phases, crystallization, liquid crystals and what is generally known as “soft condensed matter”, characterized by a delicate balance between molecular attractions and thermal disorder, i.e. energy and entropy. Some of his contributions to this field can be highlighted by the number of citations received and, especially, for its temporary persistence as ideas that (some of them more than 30 years later) are still useful for others researchers and, therefore, cited frequently. In a current context in which scientific success is increasingly associated with the immediacy of the impact and its media impact, it is important to recognize the value of the works that last less striking but sometimes more useful for the collective advancement of knowledge.

Without abandoning the line of work in problems of statistical physics, and from a sabbatical stay at the University of Vienna (Austria) in 1991, has developed an increasingly active approach towards problems of biophysics, including the folding of RNA and the link between chemical kinetics and Darwinian dynamics within the quasi-species of M. Eigen, and later the structure of lipid membranes and the protein filaments. The main conceptual thread of these contributions is in the application to experimental results in biological systems to the powerful theoretical techniques developed in soft matter physics. As part of that effort to create bridges between physics and the life sciences, he participated in the initiative of launching a Master in Biophysics at UAM, and he was its first director, when it was still a ahead of the present normative for postgraduate studies. Now, as official master degree in physics of condensed matter and biological systems, it has become an important referent in Spain for a new generation of interdisciplinary scientists.