Physics and Beyond

chaired by Piet Mulders, Philine van Vliet
Friday, 8 February 2019 from to (Europe/Amsterdam)
at Nikhef ( Turing zaal )
Science Park Congress Centre, Science Park 125
At this meeting five MSc/PhD students (common theme is Theoretical Physics in Amsterdam) tell about their projects in recent years, which covers a diversity of topics and a diversity in how and where (MSc program abroad, MSc program in Amsterdam, Job outside academia after MSc, PhD of foreign student in Amsterdam, PhD of Dutch student abroad). Then there are two talks by prominent speakers with interesting careers during which they worked in the Nobelprize committee or changed careers from particle physics to dean and director of KNMI. During the drinks afterwards, you can also enjoy a meet and greet with the speakers.
Go to day
  • Friday, 8 February 2019
    • 13:00 - 13:15 Welcome 15'
      Speaker: Stan Bentvelsen
    • 13:15 - 13:40 From Physics to Building a Cloud Data Warehouse 25'
      After studying theoretical physics I felt like it was time for a change. I didn’t really want to do a PhD and felt like there should also be other fun things to do. Making this change was a bit harder than it seemed at first, eventually I ended up in the field of Business Intelligence / Data Analytics, which is still quite close to the physicists state of mind. After a few months of working as a data analyst I was introduced to the challenge of bringing an overall structure to the data with the goal to be able to combine historical data stored in different systems into one 'cloud' database for the purpose of analysis and machine learning. In this talk I will briefly explain my experiences looking around for job opportunities and the challenges that come with it. Then I will give a small introduction to the field of Data Analysis, Data Warehousing and Data Science.
      Speaker: Fabian Springer
    • 13:40 - 14:05 (Physics) Life has only just begun 25'
      Speaker: Philine van Vliet
    • 14:05 - 14:45 So You Are Becoming an Administrator... 40'
      After being educated as an experimental nuclear physicist, I had the opportunity to change my field of interest every 6 years - on average. On the one hand there was a bit of luck involved, but at the same time I also was attracted by the prospect of change. At a certain point in my career I realized I was talking more frequently to directors and deans than to my own students. At that moment a recruiter approached me to become a full time administrator. I never regretted that step, although I still like the ideas that I am surrounded by many physicists and other colleagues with a solid scientific background. At present I am director general of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), and I will show how it is possible to combine my administrative duties with frequent talks on important scientific subjects such as climate change. My background as a physicist turns out to be extremely valuable in my day to day work at KNMI, although it is quite differently from my work as a researcher in the past.
      Speaker: Prof. Gerard van der Steenhoven
    • 14:45 - 15:15 Koffie
    • 15:15 - 15:40 A Tale of Many Particles and Three Countries - A glance at the academic life through the eyes of a theoretical physicists. 25'
      An outstanding problem in particle physics is the description of the structure of hadrons in terms of their elementary constituents, quarks and gluons (collectively called partons). The most common hadrons are protons and neutrons, which build the atomic nuclei and make up almost all the visible mass of the universe.
      Since my Master’s time, I devoted my time and effort in studying hadrons and their structures in the context of a very exciting but also extremely challenging theory: Quantum Chromo Dynamics (QCD).  The peculiarity of QCD is that the strength of the interaction between partons varies considerably with the distance, being weak when they are at short distances and progressively becoming stronger as they try to go far apart.
      My adventure in the theory of subnuclear interactions started in Italy, where I did my studies, and continued in Amsterdam, where I arrived as an exchange student at the VU University and I then became a URF fellow. After the Master, I started and completed a Ph.D. program on the same topic at Nikhef and the VU University. Hadronic physics brought me eventually to France, where I currently work as a post-doctorate fellow. By reviewing my personal experience as a theoretical physicist in Italy, The Netherlands, and France I will try to give a taste of what the academic life could be after the Master in Physics.
      Speaker: Sabrina Cotogno
    • 15:40 - 16:05 The Physics of (my) Life 25'
      All life-forms consume energy (ATP) on a molecular scale to actively regulate physical, chemical and mechanical processes over a large range of length and time scales. For example, on the nanometer scale, individual molecules within a cell display random diffusive motion but can exhibit emergent collective behavior on a mesoscopic scale. The spatial order on the mesoscopic scale, in turn, affects processes on the cellular and tissue level. In the Physics of Life we use concepts from fields, such as Statistical Mechanics and Soft Condensed Matter, to understand how inherently noisy processes develop spatiotemporal order and function. However, where these traditional physical theories have been developed for systems in thermodynamic equilibrium, processes in living organisms are out of equilibrium, raising the question to what extend these traditional theories apply.
      In this talk I’ll tell how the Physics of Life became the physics of my life. I'll discuss how traditional physics can help to understand the living world around us and where these theories potentially break down. Furthermore, I’ll give a brief overview of my PhD project on self-organization in developing embryos and explain how this is a small building block to develop a unifying theory of life.
      Speaker: Manon Wigbers
    • 16:05 - 16:45 Talk Cecilia Jarlskog 40'
    • 16:45 - 18:00 Borrel