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Forschungszentrum Jülich - Annual Report 2012

52 Forschungszentrum Jülich | Annual Report 2012 Colloids and computers, research and family – the many worlds of physicist Marisol Ripoll Today, Ripoll performs research into how tiny particles move in liquids. These mixtures are referred to as ‘colloids’. They play an important role in technolo- gy, for example as paint or drilling fluids, but also in biology, where proteins and cells swim in the plasma. For her stud- ies, Marisol Ripoll doesn’t mix liquids, however, but stands firmly on dry ground: she studies the behaviour of colloids in simulations on supercomput- ers. With these simulations, she hopes to find out how temperature differences in a liquid determine the behaviour of different particles suspended in it. What happens when other factors such as gravity come into play? And how does the chemical composition of the parti- cles influence their swimming behav- iour? “This isn’t just interesting from a theoretical point of view,” she says. Her research group recently filed a patent application for a thermophoretic force The weather may be better in Spain, but Dr. Marisol Ripoll has never regretted moving from her native country in the south of Europe to Jülich. Her PhD project was an international project carried out at the universities of Madrid and Utrecht. Having just received her PhD, the young physicist came to Forschungszentrum Jülich in late 2002. She has headed her own young investi- gators group at the Institute of Complex Systems since 2007. Jülich’s tenure-track programme, which gives young scientists the opportunity to perform research independently at an early stage, has allowed her to get tenure after her positive evaluation – which means a permanent contract. She sees this as a rather privileged position. “Even in school I was absolutely fas- cinated by physics,” says Marisol Ripoll. She was indifferent to the question of whether this was a boys’ subject. “I never even considered anything else. Mathematics might have been the only other subject that wouldn’t have been out of the question.” In Spain, she adds, it’s not quite as unusual for a woman to study physics as in Germany. However, it is true there, too, that you will see fewer women the more theoretical the subject and the higher the position. While it was initially astrophysics – looking at the infinite extent of the uni- verse – that fascinated the student, she soon turned to the smallest of things. Doctoral studies and more It is much more than the excellent re- search infrastructure that contributes to the fact that future leaders enjoy work- ing at Jülich – it’s the whole package. For example, Studium Universale (SU), the PhD students’ initiative, organizes events on topics that are not restricted to everyday work at Jülich. These in- clude political questions of general interest and overarching, work-related issues – in March 2013, for example, they organized a workshop on copyright and plagiarism. SU aims to provide opportunities for PhD students to make contact and exchange ideas, in particu- lar for those from abroad. The Students’ Lounge gegenüber is a place where undergraduates, postgraduates, and PhD students from all disciplines can meet for an informal chat over a cup of free tea or coffee. Dr. Marisol Ripoll came to Jülich from Spain. Here, she conducts research into the behaviour of colloids. machine, which converts heat into movement, and makes it easier to handle liquids in a controlled manner in minimum spaces. For Marisol Ripoll, Forschungszentrum Jülich is the ideal place for combining lots of different things: theoretical con- siderations and applied research; her own computer simulations and the practical experiments performed by her colleagues; work and private life. Her partner, who hails from the Netherlands, also works at Forschungszentrum Jülich; their two daughters go to the ‘Kleine Füchse’ daycare centre and are growing up trilingual. “My older daughter recent- ly learnt in the preschool programme what the German words heiß and kalt mean,” says Marisol Ripoll. “She was really excited when I told her that in principle, that’s what I deal with in my work.”