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Dr. Alice P. Gast Delivers the 2014 Jeanne and Martin Sussman Endowed Lecture

Why Are Complex Fluids So Simple and So Interesting?

April 2, 2014
Time: 12:30-2:30 P.M.
Location: Alumnae Lounge, 40 Talbot Avenue, Medford, MA
Lunch will precede the lecture that begins at 1:30 P.M.
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There are many examples of fascinating and beautiful phenomena, such as liquid crystalline behavior, shear thickening and other rheological oddities, occurring in systems called complex fluids. Complex fluids are liquid suspensions or solutions where the solute or suspended particles differ in size from the suspending fluid. Sometimes these size scales, usually in the 10-1000 nm range, arise from self-assembly of smaller molecules. Thus, colloidal particles, polymers, micelles, proteins, vesicles, emulsions, liquid crystals and nanoparticles could all be components of a complex fluid. What differentiates these systems from other fluids is the amplification of intermolecular and surface forces that occurs with entities that are in this size range. Thus, these systems can undergo dramatic changes in properties, ranging from beautiful opalescence to rapid sedimentation, under a narrow range of conditions. These changes can be invoked with small changes in solvent, ionic strength, temperature or other physical chemical properties. In trying to understand and model these fluids, we benefit from analogies made to atomic and molecular systems and we can readily adopt statistical mechanical approaches to describe them. We can often predict a complex fluid's physical properties by simplifying such a system and treating it as model particles interacting through a model potential. We will discuss several examples where colloidal particles, polymeric micelles or proteins have simple models capturing their very interesting behavior.

About Dr. Gast:
Dr. Alice P. Gast, an internationally renowned scholar, researcher and academic leader, was appointed the 13th president of Lehigh University in August 2006. She will become president of Imperial College London in September 2014.

Prior to her appointment at Lehigh, Dr. Gast served as the vice president for research and associate provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and held the Robert T. Haslam chair in chemical engineering. She previously spent 16 years as a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford University and the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory.

She is the co-author of Physical Chemistry of Surfaces, 6th edition, a classic textbook on colloid and surface phenomena, and has co-authored numerous scientific publications.

In 2010, Dr. Gast was named to the prestigious post of U.S. Science Envoy by the U.S. State Department. As one of three science envoys named in 2010, Dr. Gast traveled to the Caucasus and Central Asia and has advised the White House, the Department of State, and the U.S. scientific community about ways to deepen existing ties and foster new relationships there. Additionally, Dr. Gast is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Review her full biography >

About The Jeanne and Martin Sussman Endowed Lecture:
Martin Victor Sussman grew up in New York City, entering high school at age 12. At 19, he received an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from the City College of New York. He earned a doctorate in chemical engineering from Columbia University. He was a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and American Institute of Chemists, and was a registered Professional Engineer in Massachusetts. He was a gentleman, an inventor, and a scholar who planted seeds of technical knowledge around the world.

Professor Emeritus Sussman was a member of the Department of Chemical Engineering at Tufts University for 37 years. He taught thermodynamics to generations of Tufts engineering students, and captivated liberal arts majors with his lectures on the interaction of culture and technology. The Tufts community was deeply saddened by his passing on April 13, 2005.

The department was honored to receive a gift of $100,000 from the Estate of Professor Martin V. Sussman. This gift has been named The Jeanne and Martin Sussman Endowed Fellowship and Lectureship Fund. Administered by the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, the fund is intended to provide an international fellowship for Chemical and Biological Engineering undergraduates and a biannual chemical engineering lectureship series.

The department is extremely grateful for the opportunity to honor Professor Sussman's life and dedicated service to the university, and would like to express thanks for the kindness and generosity of the Sussman family.