Alberto Fernandez-Nieves

Alberto Fernandez-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. My research is in soft matter physics. 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. I became Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2023.

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 also do work in fluid mechanics and granular matter.

Selected publications

– Anderson C, Goldsztein G, Fernandez-Nieves A 2023, ‘Ant waves-Spontaneous activity waves in fire-ant columns‘, Science Advances, 9, 3, eadd0635.
– Zhou B, Gasser U & Fernandez-Nieves A 2023, ‘Measuring the counterion cloud of soft microgels using SANS with contrast variation‘, Nature Communications, 14, 3827.
– Golden M, Grigoriev RO, Nambisan J & Fernandez-Nieves A 2023, ‘Physically informed data-driven modeling of active nematics’, Science Advances, 9, 27, eabq6120.

Selected research activities

-Honors: APS Fellow
-Invited talks at conferences/workshops: XVIII Encuentro Interbienal del Grupo Especializado de Termodinamica de la RSEF y RSEQ, Sevilla (Spain)
-Invited colloquia/seminars: (i) U Barcelona (Spain), (ii) U Texas at Austin (USA), (iii) UPENN (USA), (iv) Harvard U (USA)
-Undergraduate students advised (UB): Bernat Argelich Evangelio (tfg), Aina Gaya Avila (tfg), Marta Gil Fraca (practicas de empresa)
-Refereeing: (i) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Phys Rev Lett, Phys Rev X, Phys Rev B, Phys Rev E, J Chem Phys, Soft Matter, Langmuir, Chemistry of Materials; (ii) Book proposal, Elsevier
-Panel Review Member, NASA (Physical Sciences Informatics program)
-International Programme Committee, 12th Liquid Matter Conference
-Conference organization: (i) Focus Session: “Driven and Active Granular Matter”. 2023 American Physical Society March Meeting (Las Vegas, NV, USA); (ii) 1st Spanish Soft Matter 1 1/2 Day (Benasque, Spain)
-Grants: (i) AGAUR, Beatriu de Pinos; (ii) MINECO, FPI
-Research projects: Agrobio SL (Almeria, Spain)