Open Problems in Soft Interfaces

A key component of our program will be a seminar on the critical analysis of the current literature on interfaces, whereby we will define the frontiers of interface research by identifying unsolved problems. Small interdisciplinary groups will scour online databases for “hot” articles or research groups associated with a particular research topic (e.g., biomaterial interfaces relevant to a particular disease or injury; fundamental interface problems in soft matter physics; techniques for patterning surfaces; mechanisms for bacterial biofilm control; novel mechanisms for drug delivery) ultimately selecting a single paper to be pitched to the entire class for in-depth consideration by all. Following this selection, several students will lead the discussion of the article. The class will critically analyze the paper and end with updating a developing list of unsolved problems. This course goes beyond traditional seminar or paper classes by developing appreciation for the process of defining a research project in the context of friendly, interdisciplinary debate that fosters improved scientific communication. Near the end of the course teams will be asked to prepare a concrete research proposal to be refereed by the class. The diverse composition of the teams will challenge the students to find ways of taking advantage of their different expertise and will provide a taste of team grant-writing. This course will be offered every year in the Spring semester.

Spring 13 class

The syllabus can be viewed here [pdf].