Physics Professor Presents Research Findings at National and Regional Meetings

Campbell Studying Ion-Channel Dynamics

By: Rosa Jimenez

Roy Campbell

Roy Campbell, physics professor at Walla Walla University, recently reported on progress in his study of ion-channel dynamics using the principle of maximum caliber.

Campbell presented his original findings at the March 25 meeting of the American Physical Society in Dallas, Texas.  Campbell presented an update report at the society’s regional meeting in Corvallis, Ore., on Oct. 21.

Ion channels are pore-shaped proteins embedded in cellular membranes that can open and close like a gate letting through various ions such as sodium, potassium, or calcium. Ion channels play a crucial role in the transmission of nerve impulses, the triggering of muscular contractions, and many other biological processes.

The principle of maximum caliber is a mathematical method for making logical inferences concerning the properties of a dynamical system, such as an ion channel, when knowledge of the system is incomplete, according to Campbell. “The concept of caliber for systems that are changing with time is analogous to the concept of entropy for systems that are not changing with time,” says Campbell.  “The principle was used to make unbiased predictions of ion channel behavior from short histories of measured channel openings and closings.”

The American Physical Society is the world’s second largest organization of physicists. The society, which has a membership of 48,000, publishes more than a dozen scientific journals. 

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