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Bath academic awarded prestigious fellowship to study how order arises from chaos

2010年7月21日

A physics lecturer at the University of Bath has been awarded a prestigious fellowship as part of new investment in the next generation of scientists and engineers announced today (Wednesday 21 July) by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Dr Robert Jack, from the University’s Department of Physics, is one of 30 outstanding UK researchers to be awarded EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellowships to help develop their potential as the next generation of world-leading scientists and engineers.

Dr Jack works in an area of physics that describes how order arises from disorder, for example, how ice is formed from water, or how liquids cool to form either glass or crystals.

Dr Jack explained: “My research is concerned with predicting how you get order from chaos. When water freezes, the molecules arrange themselves in an ordered lattice framework, making ice crystals.

“In clouds, this can either result in snowflakes or hailstones. But whilst snowflakes have their characteristic complex hexagonal shape, hailstones are more or less just clumps of ice.

“Other liquids can form a glass instead of a crystal. My research tries to understand the physics behind this, using computer models to predict when a liquid will turn into a glass or a liquid, or when a cloud will produce snow instead of hail.

“These fundamental principles in physics can also be applied to other aspects of science, such as understanding how viruses spontaneously assemble themselves inside infected cells, or for developing nanotechnology used in efficient solar cells.”

Announcing the new fellowships at Farnborough International Airshow today Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts MP, said: “Supporting talented scientists and engineers throughout their careers is crucial to driving the UK’s science base and economy forward.

“These prestigious fellowships are an important investment for the future, and will help us develop innovative technologies and solutions for the major challenges ahead, and secure our place as global winners.”

EPSRC fellowships are designed to help develop future leaders with the science, engineering and mathematics skills necessary for the UK to compete on a global stage, generating the knowledge, new ideas and technologies essential to support business, government, and national priorities.

The EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellowship allows grant holders to dedicate themselves to their research areas and fund their research costs. They also allow fellows to pursue new research directions and build international research collaborations and new business partnerships.

The competition for fellowships is intense. On average, each year 450 applications are received for around 25-30 career acceleration fellowship awards.

Successful fellows have a strong publication record and are to be able to demonstrate independence from their supervisors. The new awards bring the total of EPSRC fellows to 133.

Full details on the new EPSRC fellowships can be found on the EPSRC website.

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