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”.
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!