Last week I attended the Soft Solids and Complex Fluids summer school at UMass Amherst, which is a week-long program for grad students studying soft matter. This was an invaluable experience, not only for the scheduled content, but also for the opportunity to meet my peers in the field and to get a broader perspective of the work being done in the soft matter community.
Four experts in the field each gave a series of lectures related to their research interests: Vinny Manoharan discussed entropy in colloidal systems, Rudi Podgornik discussed the physics of DNA, Tom Witten discussed irreversible phenomena in colloids (e.g. fractal aggregates), and Shankar Venkataramani discussed pattern formation. In addition to these talks, there were two poster sessions during the week where students presented the research they’ve been working on. I thought this format was great because it broke up the time spent sitting in lectures, and it allowed students to have a conversation about their research and really engage with each other’s ideas. Here’s my poster:
Besides the academic program, there was also a hike at a nearby mountain (with a spectacular view from the top) on Tuesday afternoon and a picnic on Wednesday evening. Thanks to the organizers Narayanan Menon, Chris Santangelo, Benny Davidovitch, and Tony Dinsmore for hosting such a worthwhile program.
On Friday, following the summer school, UMass Amherst hosted the quarterly New England Complex Fluids Workshop. I presented a short soundbite on my research, which can be viewed here:
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