Alberto Fernández-Nieves

Alberto Fernández-Nieves

Universitat de Barcelona

Experimental Sciences & Mathematics

I was born in Granada (Spain) in 1973. I studied physics and graduated with a PhD from the University in my hometown city in the year 2000. My post-doctoral work was under the supervision of Prof. David A. Weitz in the Department of Physics and DEAS at Harvard University. I subsequently held a lecturer position at the University of Almeria and an INEST Visiting Professor position at Harvard University. In 2008, I became Assistant Professor of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. I obtained tenure and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2014. I have performed research in soft matter, making substantial contributions to the physics of geometrically frustrated liquid crystals, surface-tension-driven instabilities and the thermodynamics of colloidal polymer gels. For my pHD work, I was awarded the prize for young researchers in experimental physics of the Spanish Royal Society of Physics and the doctoral thesis prize from the University of Granada.

Research interests

My research interests are in experimental soft condensed matter. We study a variety of classical many-body systems that have characteristic energy scales accessible at room temperature and that are internally characterized by mesoscopic length scales. As a result, these soft materials are easily deformable by external stresses and fields, or even by thermal fluctuations, and have microscopic dynamics and structural features that can be directly imaged using optical-microscopy techniques and probed using light scattering; this enables addressing many open questions in equilibrium and non-equilibrium physics. Recent research involves partially ordered fluids, colloidal crystals and glasses, and active matter. A recurring theme is the presence of defects in the order and how they sense and respond to the local geometry, the local environment and the system’s inherent activity. We are also interested in fluid mechanics and hydrodynamic instabilities.

Selected publications

- Mahajan, Shivam; Tennenbaum, Michael; Pathak, Sudhir N.; Baxter, Devontae; Fan, Xiaochen; Padilla, Pablo; Anderson, Caleb; Fernandez-Nieves, Alberto; Ciamarra, Massimo Pica 2020, 'Reverse Janssen Effect in Narrow Granular Columns', Physical Review Letters, 124, 12, 128002.

- Nikolov, Svetoslav, V; Fernandez-Nieves, Alberto; Alexeev, Alexander 2020, 'Behavior and mechanics of dense microgel suspensions', Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America, 117, 44, 27096 - 27103.

- Ellis, Perry W.; Klanecek, Susannah; Fernandez-Nieves, Alberto 2020, 'Polarized epifluorescence microscopy and the imaging of nematic liquid crystals in highly curved geometries', Physical Review E, 101, 5, 052703.

- Tennenbaum, Michael; Fernandez-Nieves, Alberto 2020, 'Activity effects on the nonlinear mechanical properties of fire-ant aggregations', Physical Review E, 102, 1, 012602.

Selected research activities

Invited talks at conferences/workshops: “Insect-inspired Physics”, ESPCI (Paris, France)

Invited colloquia/seminars: (i) University of Chicago (USA), (ii) Northwestern University (USA), (iii) Loughborough University (UK)

Master thesis advised: Javier Rojo Gonzalez, UB

Undergraduate thesis advised: Laia Lopez Llobet, UB

Thesis committees: (i) Nikolov Svetoslav, Georgia Tech. (ii) Olga Bantysh, UB

Panel review: (i) Neutron scattering proposals, Oak Ridge National Lab (USA), (ii) Agencia Estatal de Investigacion (Spain)

Member of the Advisory Board of the "Division de Fisica de la Materia Condensada", RSEF

Consultancy: TreeFrog Therapeutics (France)

Refereeing: Phys Rev Lett, Phys Rev E, Phys Rev Fluids, Proc Nat Acad Sci, Nature Materials, Nature Comm, J Fluid Mech, Soft Matter, J Colloid Interface Sci, Curr Opinion Colloid Interface Sci, Macromolecules, Langmuir

Personnel Grants: (i) Post-doc, Beatriu de Pinos. (ii) FPI, MINECO