Skip to main content
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

– Scotti A, Pelaez-Fernandez M, Gasser U & Fernandez-Nieves A 2021, ‘Osmotic pressure of suspensions comprised of charged microgels’, Physical Review E, 103, 1, 012609.

– Tennenbaum M, Anderson X, Hyatt JS, Do C & Fernandez-Nieves A 2021, ‘Internal structure of ultralow-crosslinked microgels: From uniform deswelling to phase separation’, Physical Review E, 103, 2, 022614.

– Pearce DJG, Nambisan J, Ellis PW, Fernandez-Nieves A & Giomi L 2021, ‘Orientational Correlations in Active and Passive Nematic Defects’, Physical Review Letters, 127, 9, 197801.

Selected research activities

Invited talks at conferences/workshops: (i) “Probing out-of-equilibrium soft matter”, Fribourg (Switzerland), (ii) “11th Liquid Matter Conference” (virtual), Prague (Czech Republic), (iii) “Active Matter”, Telluride (CO, USA)

Invited colloquia/seminars: (i) Brandeis University (USA), (ii) Harvard University (USA), (iii) ETH (Switzerland), (iv) New York University (USA), (v) University of Texas at Austin (USA), (vi) Paul Scherrer Institute (Switzerland), (vii) Biological Physics Physical Biology seminar (virtual series), (viii) IFIMAC+ICMM seminar series on condensed matter physics (virtual)

Thesis advised: Caleb Anderson, Georgia Tech

Undergraduate thesis advised (UB): (i) Iker Zamorano Vega, (ii) David Alvaro Berlanga, (iii) Marc Herranz, (iv) Ignacio Prieto Ponce

Thesis committees (Georgia Tech): (i) Shashank Markande, (ii) James McInerney

Panel review: (i) Langmuir Lectureship (ACS, Colloids Division), (ii) UPENN’s NSF MRSEC

Associate editor, Frontiers in Physics – Soft Matter Physics

Refereeing: Phys Rev Lett, Phys Rev Materials, Phys Rev Fluids, Proc Nat Acad Sci, Nature Comm, J Fluid Mech, Soft Matter, J Colloid Interface Sci, Science Advances, Phys Fluids, Adv Materials & Interfaces, PLOS Computational Biology

Personnel Grants: FPU, MINECO

Research contracts (PI): (i) Agrobio S.L, 44.000€. (ii) Treefrog Therapeutics, 124.390€

ICREA Memoir 2021