MacArthur Fellows Program

Arthur T. Winfree

Physiologist and Mathematician | Class of November 1984

Physiologist and Mathematician
West Lafayette , Indiana
42 at time of award
November 5, 2002

Arthur Winfree was a theoretical biologist who investigated chemical waves and clock-like behavior in living organisms and in simpler chemical systems.

His research shows that oscillation in biological systems and their nonliving analogues are commonly built around “phase singularity.”  Winfree studied singularities in the twenty-four-hour “body clocks” that regulate, for example, sleep and waking; in the shorter-period clocks involved in the heartbeat and its arrhythmias; and in chemically-oscillating liquids that exhibit wave properties similar to those in living nerve and muscle tissues.  Winfree authored three monographs: The Geometry of Biological Time (1980), The Timing of Biological Clocks (1986), and When Time Breaks Down: The Three-Dimensional Dynamics of Electrochemical Waves and Cardiac Arrhythmias(1987).

Winfree was a Regents’ Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona, Tucson.  Previously, he served at Purdue University (1972-1986) and the University of Chicago (1969-1972).  He was the recipient of a National Institutes of Health Research Development Award (1973-78), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1982), the Einthoven Award in cardiology (1989).

Winfree received a B.S. (1965) from Cornell University and a Ph.D. (1970) from Princeton University.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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