Not quite a fluid, not quite a solid!? – Mary Rose Devine

This week we have Mary Rose Devine (@amaryrose), a Physics PhD student at University of Connecticut. Mary Rose grew up in New Jersey, surrounded by suburbs and just a few minutes from the beach. Early on she was interested in a lot at school, but not particularly interested in science . However, she eventually found physics in high school, and fell in love with it during college. Now Mary Rose works on computational simulations of materials that are between “fluid” and “solid”.

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How did you end up in science?
At Colgate University I studied physics, all while exploring the privilege that is a liberal arts education (class on Old English? check. Urban geography? check. Study abroad one semester? Wales, check). I participated in computational neuroscience research, and became interested in fundamental physics relevant to humans. A hop, leap, and jump up in scale from neurons is the body itself–I became really interested in Biomechanics and applied to Kinesiology & Mechanical engineering programs. At UT Austin I pursued a PhD in Biomechanics, intending to study human movement through walking and balance.  I ultimately completed a master’s thesis understanding a simple control model of repeated movements (think: steps –> walking!), and through that process learned I did not want to complete a PhD in that field. I completed the Masters and applied to Physics programs, interested in anything intersecting the human scale and fundamental physics. With the help of the APS Bridge Program, I found my way to the University of Connecticut, where I now study computational condensed matter of soft materials. We try to understand things like: the not quite fluid and not quite solid behavior of solutions of polymers, or lipids. This is my 5th year on the academic year, my 4th year enrolled as a graduate student, and in my program I am a 2nd year PhD student.
What makes your work so important?
I ask basic questions in the hope that as we understand more at the “first principle” scale, and communicate with scientists with different motivations, together we’ll be able to find human-first applications. A great example of a direct application is drug delivery: understanding how something like vesicles in solution form can lead to forming pharmaceutical molecules inside soft vesicles designed to deform & release in a specific way (either at a specific site or in response to a controlling variable like light). 
What do you enjoy (besides your research)?
I’m the Physics Graduate Student Association President, working to build & sustain a community of graduate students at UConn! I also enjoy getting involved with community theater, in fact during my time at Colgate University I participated in essentially all of the student theater: from painting sets to directing plays! 
I do some indoor planting/gardening, enjoy listening audio books, writing (right now mostly poetry & tweets).

And your ideal day off??

 

Coffee and getting ready for the day for 5 hours (gotta twitter!!!!), an outdoor friendship event (going to beach, going on a hike), late lunch and more coffee, a crafts & movie night at somebody else’s house, then coming home to snuggle my cat again.

 

 

Welcome Mary Rose Devine to RealScientists!

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