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30 under 30: Investigating How Microorganisms Swim in Complex Fluids

Meet Arnold Mathijssen, 21, one of the up-and-coming physicists attending this year's Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting



Image courtesy of Arnold Mathijssen

The annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting brings a wealth of scientific minds to the shores of Germany’s Lake Constance. Every summer at Lindau, dozens of Nobel Prize winners exchange ideas with hundreds of young researchers from around the world. Whereas the Nobelists are the marquee names, the younger contingent is an accomplished group in its own right. In advance of this year’s meeting, which focuses on physics, we are profiling several promising attendees under the age of 30. The profile below is the 30th in a series of 30.

Name: Arnold Mathijssen
Age: 21
Born: Terneuzen, Zeeland, The Netherlands
Nationality: Dutch

Current position: DPhil student in theoretical physics at the University of Oxford
Education: Master in Science (MSci) degree in theoretical physics from University College London

What is your field of research?
The research I am about to start in Oxford is on Microflow in Complex Environments: using techniques from statistical mechanics and hydrodynamics we aim to investigate e.g. swimming behaviour of microscopic organisms in complex fluids. My Master’s project was an inquiry regarding parameterisation dependence of parton distribution functions (PDFs) based on Chebyshev polynomials to describe the structure of the proton.

What drew you to physics, and to that research area in particular?
One of the grandeurs of physics, I find, is its rigour and the close bond between theory and experiment.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
There are many unsolved problems in science: to be on the very frontier of deciphering these would be a sparkling experience! Sometimes it is good to take a broad perspective and treat all problems with equal care.

Who are your scientific heroes?
Werner Heisenberg, Guiseppe Lagrangia, Antoine Lavoisier, and Albert Einstein.

What activities outside of physics do you most enjoy?
I love sailing regattas, and I’m also an enthusiastic piano player and (operatic) singer.

What do you hope to gain from this year’s Lindau meeting?
I think the Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting is a fantastic symposium to discuss new ideas in physics, to discover what techniques are used and to meet new colleagues; and who knows, future collaborators. The opportunity to follow and learn from a series of lectures by Nobel Laureates is simply fascinating. In addition, I am very keen to explain scientific results to other people and non-scientists (for example in educational outreach programs). Hopefully I could learn new analogies and ways of explaining the latest concepts during the meeting. I am confident that participating would be a most special experience.

Are there any Nobelists whom you are particularly excited to meet?

I particularly look forward to meeting Sir Harold W. Kroto, for his gift to inspire others and to draw links between sciences and the arts. Secondly, Douglas D. Osheroff, who can explain topics with great clarity whilst using his humour and background knowledge to make the description unforgettable.
 

« Previous
29. Claire Thomas
30 Under 30:
Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting
View all 30 Profiles »

 

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