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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Dr Suzie Protiere

IAS Fellow at Grey College, Durham University (January - March 2020)


Suzie Protière is a CNRS researcher in Soft Matter Physics at Sorbonne Université (France). She works at the Institut Jean le Rond d’Alembert in Paris. She obtained her PhD in 2007 at Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris and Université Paris Diderot working on a quantum analog of droplets bouncing at an interface. She performed her postdoctoral training at Harvard University (Cambridge, USA) working on modelling porous media in microfluidic channels. She has been a visiting researcher at Princeton University for several months from 2010 to 2013.

Dr Protière is recognised internationally for her work on fluid-structure interactions at the capillary scale. She has a strong expertise in complex materials and fluids, having worked on swellable beams as well as fluid-grains 2D assemblies of complex interfacial rheology. She is also an expert in elastocapillary imbibition and drying and more generally the coupling of elastic structures and small scales flows, which can mimic biological systems (wetting of feathers, hygromorphism of pine cones for example). She has designed many model experiments, which can have strong impacts on industries where fibrous media is important (textile, paper, filtering, insulation etc.). She is currently developing bio-inspired fibrous structures for stimuli-reactive materials based on hygromorphic behavior and for long distance diffusion of liquids in walls (applications in building, medical, civil engineering or aerosol filtration).

Concomitantly to her research activity, Dr Protière is involved in teaching at the Ecole Supérieure de Paris Physique-Chimie. She is particularly involved in a novel teaching course which encourages students to experiment via research projects in the classroom.

In Durham, Dr Protiere will contribute to both the scientific and the open innovation components of the IAS sponsored project, Material Imagination. With her expertise on particles at interfaces and colloidal sheets, she will contribute to understanding the behaviour of bacteria at interfaces. In addition, Dr Protiere, along with PI Dr Margarita Staykova, and Dr Halim Kusumaatmaja (Durham, Physics) will explore the scope for different types of smart materials based on the design of artificial membranes or vesicles as well as fibrous media using new methods. The role of capillary adhesion and deformation will be investigated in such systems.

Dr Protiere has a relevant expertise in open innovation as she is currently developing a project where she combines her research findings on the functionalization of fibrous systems through wetting processes (swelling, imbibition, drainage, evaporation) in order to develop a large exhibition with collaborators at Ecole Polytechnique and ESPCI.

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - The Science and Art of Fibres


Fibrous media are functional and versatile materials, as demonstrated by their ubiquity both in natural systems such as feathers or wood and in engineered systems from paper to textile products where they offer benefits in filtration, insulation or wetting. Understanding their properties thus has strong industrial and ecological consequences. In particular, the interaction of fibrous materials with liquids (through adsorption, wetting, drying, imbibition) is a very common yet complex phenomenon which has drastic impacts on the fibrous mediums mechanical behavior. In this talk, through simple experiments, Dr Suzie Protiere will discuss the physics of fibrous media in order to propose different uses of the material for artistic creation (architecture, sculpture) as well as new industrial possibilities for example.

Listen to the lecture in full.