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Professor Joins Executive Board of American Physical Society

November 30, 2015

Professor Linda HirstProfessor Linda Hirst, with the School of Natural Sciences, has been elected to the executive council of GSOFT, the new Topical Group on Soft Matter in the American Physical Society (APS), the world's largest organization of physicists.

“This is a big honor and is very exciting,” Hirst said. “I wanted to become more involved with the APS, and this is a great way to do it. This will bring a lot more attention to soft-matter physics at UC Merced, too.”

Hirst, an affiliate of the Health Sciences Research Institute, focuses her research on liquid crystal materials and biophysics. Recent projects involve lipids; a novel method of combining liquid crystals with nanoparticles to make capsules; and molecular motors. Her research group uses experimental techniques to characterize molecular assemblies and understand the physics behind why they form.

“Soft-matter physics is a relatively new field of physics,” she said. “That it has earned its own topical group in the APS is a recognition of its significance and legitimacy.”

APS publishes more than a dozen scientific journals, including Physical Review and Physical Review Letters, and organizes more than 20 science meetings each year. As a member-at-large of executive council, Hirst will help organize events and promote soft-matter physics. She is one of six members-at-large on the 12-person council.

With more than 1,000 members, the topical group is already on its way to becoming a full division of the APS. Other divisions include Astrophysics; Fluid Dynamics; Laser Science; and Materials Physics.

Soft materials such as liquid crystals, polymers, biomaterials, colloids and other easily deformed systems touch many aspects of our everyday lives. Soft-matter physics is a highly interdisciplinary field involving scientists, mathematicians and engineers and is one of the fastest growing areas of research today, the APS said.

Hirst is the author of “Fundamentals of Soft Matter Science” the winner of a National Science Foundation Early Career Award and the International Liquid Crystal Society's Glenn Brown Prize, and created and maintains the site softmatterworld.org, an educational networking site for soft-matter physicists.