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November 2021

A Busy November at ICTP

ICTP Climatologist Erika Coppola at COP26

The world's eyes were on Glasgow in early November, where thousands of decision makers, politicians, scientists, activists, and industry lobbyists attended the United Nations's 26th Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26. Their goal: to agree on climate action that would keep the global average temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees C. Among the delegates attending the conference was ICTP's Erika Coppola, a climate scientist and a co-author of the most recent state-of-knowledge report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). "As for what I hope comes out of COP26, from a personal point of view, I hope that there will be something that is concrete," Coppola says. "As a scientist, I hope that we really improve the knowledge of the negotiators with this report and it is helping them shape better action." Read more ...

Career Development Workshop for Women in Physics at ICTP

From the art of negotiation to writing a successful CV, from talks from scientist role models to networking opportunities: ICTP's fifth Career Development Workshop for Women in Physics was held online for the first time from 17 to 19 November 2021. Women remain a minority in the physics community, which can impede their career advancement. This workshop brought together women physicists from all over the world to learn from one another's experiences and form a sense of community. In addition to talks and panel discussions, the workshop offered training sessions on crucial non-technical skills that women physicists may otherwise have less opportunity to acquire than their male peers, and that are fundamental to overcome the bias that exists in the scientific academic world. Read more ...

The Standard Model and Beyond

Physicists always try to find a more complete description of reality than we already have. The Standard Model of particle physics describes all the known forces in nature except for gravity. Despite being tested with an exceptional level of accuracy, physicists believe that the Standard Model cannot be a complete theory. At high energies it is not compatible with General Relativity, the theory that describes gravity, and it does not explain the nature of dark matter. It is also based on a large number of completely arbitrary parameters whose value we know thanks to experimental measurement. However, some of these parameters may not be that arbitrary after all. To find how to theoretically constrain these values is the work that Joan Elias Miró, staff researcher in ICTP's High Energy, Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics (HECAP) section, is trying to accomplish, and it could be the way to discover new physics beyond the Standard Model. Read more ...

The First Class of ICTP Alumni: Where are they now?
Hae-Young Kee & Kamrul Hassan

A programme to prepare bright young scientists from developing countries for advanced study in physics and math: this was one of ICTP founder Abdus Salam's fondest dreams. Hae-Young Kee was part of the first class of Diploma students that arrived in Trieste in the fall of 1991. "It took me a while to appreciate the programme because it was so intense," she remembers. "After that first three-month period ended, we were amazed at how much we had learned." Thirty years later, Kee is the Canada Research Chair in Theory of Quantum Materials at the University of Toronto, in Toronto, Canada, with a thriving lab. Meanwhile, Kee's classmate, Kamrul Hassan, notes that "ICTP has changed my life, both academically and personally. I would not be what I am or where I am today, if it had not been for ICTP." Hassan is now Professor of Physics at the University of Dhaka in his home country of Bangladesh, with fond memories of his time at ICTP.

New Repository of Diploma Theses Available

In the course of their studies, ICTP Postgraduate Diploma students are encouraged to undertake independent research that culminates in a thesis. ICTP's Marie Curie Library has now created a large and rich collection of these important academic works, going back to the Diploma Programme's founding in 1991. The Library has digitised the works and created a digital archive searchable by student name, research field, or year of graduation. The preservation of this work is important to ICTP, and the collection is updated yearly. Read more ...

Microbial Dynamics Over Time

Inside the human body lives an ecosystem of organisms, perfectly coexisting in a delicate equilibrium of mutual dependence and contributing to the complex mechanism of life. Microbial communities have been studied in many fields, from medicine to biology, in search of a complete description of these complex systems. A new open-access paper published in Science Advances by Silvia Zaoli, a postdoctoral fellow in ICTP's Quantitative Life Sciences section and her colleague, ICTP researcher Jacopo Grilli, approaches the study of a particular microbe community, that of the human gut microbiome, through the lens of statistical physics. The paper investigates how the microbial communities that live in humans' guts change in time, and how they differ between two different individuals. Read more ...

ICTP Conversations: Giorgio Parisi and Dirac Medallists in Discussion

Last month, ICTP Director Atish Dabholkar sat down with three distinguished scientists visiting ICTP for the 2020 Dirac Ceremony. You can now watch the full conversation with Giorgio Parisi of Sapienza – Università di Roma and the discussion with Pierre Ramond of the University of Florida & André Neveu of the University of Montpellier, recipients of ICTP's 2020 Dirac Medal. Share the trailers and find the full conversations on ICTP's YouTube Channel.

ICTP Colloquium: Pablo Debenedetti on Supercooled Water

ICTP was pleased to host an online colloquium by Pablo Debenedetti of Princeton University on "The Phase Behavior of Supercooled Water: Recent Computational Results." The talk took place on Wednesday 17 November 2021, and explored how water plays a central role in the physical and chemical processes that sustain life as we know it. Its ubiquity and importance notwithstanding, there remain major open questions concerning the microscopic origin and thermodynamic consequences of water’s physical properties, which are anomalous by comparison to those of most other liquids. Watch and read more ...

Open Access ICTP Webinar

The Science Technology and Innovation Unit and Marie Curie Library jointly organized two ICTP Webinars on open science. Elena Giglia, Head of the Open Science Unit at the University of Turin, Italy, delivered the first talk, entitled "Open Access: Why, What and How," (watch the recording here) gave an overview on what Open Access really means, why it is important, and how to properly open up your research. The second, entitled "A FAIRy tale: managing your data to be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, & Reusable," (watch the recording here) gave a practical, introductory overview to start FAIRifying research outputs.

Honors & Achievements

ICTP Alumna Launches Computing Start-Up

Estelle Inack, a Condensed Matter Diploma alumna from Cameroon who went on to earn a PhD in ICTP's joint doctoral programme with SISSA and who is now a postdoctoral researcher at the Perimeter Institute, has been featured in the Perimeter's magazine. The article highlights Inack's launch of a start-up company that harnesses her research interest in quantum many-body physics and artificial intelligence to find optimal solutions for complex problems, with applications ranging from neural networks to finance. Read the article here.

Former ICTP Director Katepalli Sreenivasan Honoured

Former ICTP Director Katepalli Sreenivasan was recently honoured with the American Physical Society's 2021 Fluid Dynamics Prize, "For fundamental contributions to fluid dynamics, especially turbulence from quantum to astrophysical scales". Sreenivasan has had a long career at the intersection of engineering and physics. He earned a PhD in aerospace engineering at Bangalore University, India, before developing to encompass applied physics more broadly, focussing on fluid dynamics, fluid mechanics, and turbulence. His work includes well-known contributions to the scaling problems, as well as expansions in the understanding of the processes of mixing, convection, and quantum turbulence. Read more ...

ICTP Alumnus Appointed to UNESCO Progamme Scientific Council

Mathematics Diploma alumnus Mouhamed Moustapha Fall, of Senegal, was recently appointed to the Scientific Council of UNESCO's International Basic Sciences Programme. Fall, who completed the Diploma Programme in 2005 before earning his PhD in 2009 at SISSA, is president of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences' (AIMS) Senegal Centre. His research areas are Differential Geometry and Partial Differential Equations, with a particular focus on Isoperimetric and functional inequalities, regularity theory, nonlocal equations, and overdetermined equations. Read more ...


Call for Applications: ICTP Postgraduate Diploma Programme

ICTP is now accepting applications from young physicists and mathematicians for the 2022-2023 Postgraduate Diploma Programme. The one-year course of intense study prepares talented students for PhD studies, and students have gone on to PhD programmes all over the world, launching them into successful scientific careers. Two semesters of classes are followed by a research project and dissertation. Students can apply to study in one of five subject areas: High Energy, Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics, Condensed Matter Physics, Earth System Physics, Mathematics, Quantitative Life Sciences. The deadline to apply is 31 January 2022, and you can apply online. More information ...

Postdoctoral Opportunities at ICTP

Several sections at ICTP have postdoctoral fellowship openings with upcoming deadlines: The opportunities begin in 2022. For more details, including deadlines and how to apply:

Mathematics Fellowships Openings

ICTP and the International Centre for Pure and Applied Mathematics (CIMPA) have opened a call for applications for the CIMPA-ICTP Fellowships 2022 "Research in Pairs." The fellowships programme makes it possible for researchers in mathematics based in a developing country to come to Europe to collaborate with a colleague for a period of at least 6 weeks. Applications for a visit between March and the end of December 2022 are open until 31 December 2021. Find out more ...

Seeking Nominations for the Spirit of Salam Award

Do you know someone whose spirit reflects that of ICTP founder Abdus Salam? Then nominate them for the 2022 Spirit of Abdus Salam Award! The award was set up in 2013 by the family of ICTP founder and Nobel Prize winner Abdus Salam to recognize scientists or non-scientists who have worked to further Abdus Salam's humanitarian passion and vision for the cooperation, promotion and development of science and technology in the developing world. The deadline is 15 December 2021. Self nominations are discouraged.
More information and to submit your nomination online.

ICTP Research Digest

Electrical Fields at the Boundary

The peculiar behaviour of water created conditions for life to thrive on Earth, and its characteristics are still fertile ground for physicists and chemists' investigations, especially because the properties of water change near interfaces. ICTP researchers Ali Hassanali, Riccardo Franklin Megarejo, and Uriel Morzan are part of a team with a recent paper in the prestigious Journal of the American Chemistry Society that describes the unexpected electrical field that arises at the interface of water, air and a surfactant, a substance that lowers the surface tension between the two. Using both experimental measurements and molecular dynamics simulations, the team looked at how a surfactant greatly enhances the strength of water molecules' hydrogen bonds, as well as reorganizing which way the water molecules are oriented, allowing a large electric field to emerge. The ability to control such an electric field would be an important tool for potential green energy technologies, such as artificial photosynthesis and other light-harvesting systems. With this paper, putting the peculiar behaviour of water to work for new non-polluting energy sources is one step closer to reality. Read the paper.

Curves in Space

ICTP's Math section's Research Scientist Stefano Luzzatto, with former ICTP PhD students Khadim War from Senegal and Sina Tureli from Turkey, published an interesting research in the prestigious "Journal für die reine und angewandte Mathematik." The paper presents new sufficient conditions for the integrability and unique integrability of continuous tangent subbundles on manifolds of arbitrary dimension. Using these conditions, they then derived new criteria for the integrability of invariant bundles in dynamical systems. The question of integrability and unique integrability is a classical problem in mathematics that goes back to the mid 1800s. Besides their intrinsic geometric interest, integrability results have many applications to various areas of mathematics including the existence and uniqueness of solutions for systems of ordinary and partial differential equations and to dynamical systems." Read the paper.

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