Abigail Plummer

Photo credit: Bonnie Lin

Abigail Plummer

I am a postdoctoral fellow at the Princeton Center for Complex Materials. During my PhD, I worked with David Nelson at Harvard University on crystalline membranes and population genetics.


aplummer [at] princeton.edu twitter logo

Research projects

Buckling and phase transitions in an array of dilations

Zigzag pattern impurity buckling Joint work with David Nelson and Paul Hanakata.
We studied periodic arrays of impurities that create localized regions of expansion or contraction, embedded in 2D crystalline membranes. Past a buckling transition, these dilations behave like spins in an Ising model, creating a mechanical analog of geometric frustration.
See our paper for details on the zero temperature behavior of the model (doi, arXiv), and our preprint on finite temperature effects.

Competing species in a turbulent fluid

Two species competiting in a turbulent fluid Joint work with Roberto Benzi, David Nelson, and Federico Toschi.
In marine environments, phytoplankton species compete with one another while being advected by effectively compressible turbulent flows. Working in one dimension, we found that even very weak flows that are unable to alter the spatial distribution of organisms can have an important effect on the outcomes of genetic competitions.
See our paper for details (doi, arXiv). A recording of a talk I gave on this project at the 2019 Boston University Theory of Living Systems Meeting can be found here. We recently extended some of these results to two dimensions with Giorgia Guccione (doi, arXiv), and are currently working to make a connection between our theory and real ocean data with Mara Freilich and Amala Mahadevan.

Instability in a differentially rotating plasma

Vorticity timeline showing the joint instability Joint work with Brad Marston and Steve Tobias.
A tachocline is a thin shear layer thought to play an important role in the magnetic activity of Sun-like stars. We studied an idealized two-dimensional model of the solar tachocline, focusing on a joint instability in which the model’s differential rotation is stable in the absence of a magnetic field but unstable in its presence. See our paper for details (doi, arXiv).