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Professor Damien Hicks

PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States; MS, Stanford University, United States; BS, Stanford University, United States


I lead the Complex Systems group in the Optical Sciences Centre. Through a dialogue between biological questions, physical models, and statistical methods my group develops ways to model systems represented with high-dimensional data. I am particularly interested in how one identifies the objects of interest in a complex system, where collective entities can emerge. Symmetries are a powerful organising principle here and we have shown how representation theory reveals the stages of decision-making in cell lineage trees. We have also explored how symmetry invariants in the parameter space of a neural population model can uncover the physiological drivers of brain dynamics. I received my BS (1993) and MS (1993) from Stanford University and my PhD (1999) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Applied Plasma Physics. From 2000-2014 I was a post-doc then staff physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. After returning to Australia, I was an Australian Research Council Future Fellow from 2015-2019. 

Research interests

Computational Biology; Applied Statistics; Complex Systems

PhD candidate and honours supervision

Higher degrees by research

Accredited to supervise Masters & Doctoral students as Principal Supervisor.


Available to supervise honours students.

Honours topics and outlines

Molecular networks: Molecular networks underpin all living systems, bringing robustness and reliability to life. Yet when studied at the level of a single cell, these biological circuits are noisy and unpredictable. Projects are available to study the interplay of noise and function in cancer and cell death.

Fields of Research

  • Biological Physics - 510501
  • Atomic, Molecular And Optical Physics - 510200
  • Nuclear And Plasma Physics - 510600

Teaching areas

Statistical Mechanics;Classical Mechanics


Also published as: Hicks, Damien; Hicks, D.; Hicks, D. G.; Hicks, Damien G.
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Recent research grants awarded

  • 2024: Mapping the integration of T cell fate control across time and space *; ARC Discovery Projects Scheme
  • 2022: Understanding latent fate programming in T cells. *; Ideas Grants
  • 2021: What makes an activity? Learning logical rules from contributing events *; APR Internship Program
  • 2020: 3D Nanofabrication and Nanocharacterisation facility *; ARC Linkage Infrastructure and Equipment Scheme

* Chief Investigator

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