Rheology Resources

It has been a fairly busy week! Since I took a good amount of time to work on a video introducing rheology for my Using Digital Media class at Stony Brook University (and I am not sure if I can post it because of some copyright issues), I will post some resources here about rheology. Before starting my PhD, I knew that scientists and engineers performed materials testing and I had thought that all was part of materials science. I did not know that there was a whole science dedicated to specifically how a material behaved after it was deformed and that materials could not be simply defined as being either a solid or liquid.

After the 5 weeks it takes to prepare my multicomponent hydrogels, I have to test it to study its mechanical properties since I am trying to increase its mechanical strength by varying the concentration of my gels. The primary tool that I use to study my gels is with a rheometer.

Rheology comes from the Greek word ‘rhein’ meaning ‘to flow.’ It is defined as the science of deformation and flow and helps to unify our study of all materials. We usually say that something is usually liquid or solid, and describe differences between liquids with differing degrees of viscosity (resistance to flow) and between solids with different elasticities (the tendency of solid materials to return to their original shape after being deformed). However, most materials can neither be solely defined as being either liquid or solid and lie in a spectrum between the two. These materials fall under the term viscoelastic and rheology can be used to study viscous, elastic and viscoelastic materials.

Since rheology is a interdisciplinary field that combines math, the physical sciences, engineering and medicine, it requires an understanding of how materials behave as well as a practical knowledge of how rheology can be used.

I have listed some sources below that I have found to be very useful:

The Rheology Handbook, Third Edition by Thomas G. Mezger

ISBN-13: 978-3866308640 ISBN-10: 3866308647

The following from Anton Paar’s e-learning,introduces the very basic principles of rheometry:

Faith Morrison’s Polymer Rheology Course and the iTunes videos of her lectures.

I also came across this gem, which is a lecture/demonstration by Hershel Markovitz in the 1950s:

After watching some of these films, I immediately felt a little jealous of all the demonstrations that were done in classes back then.

I will post an update when I find more useful resources. If you find any book, article, or video that can help us develop a better understanding of rheology, feel free to share below in the comments.

Thanks for checking back!

Scientific Publishing is an Art too!

Happy Monday!

One of the many worries that a PhD student like myself has is publishing my work in journals. Along with making sure we do well in our coursework, satisfy our teaching assistant assignments and doing good science, we have the added worry about when is a good time to publish (not getting scooped), where should we publish and how do we write?

Source: PhD Comics (c) Jorge Cham

Source: PhD Comics (c) Jorge Cham

While different PhD programs have different requirements for how many required articles each student needs to have published or accepted, it is a very good idea to get familiar with the process sometime along our journey.

This past week I came across an interesting editorial in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters: Mastering the Art of Scientific Publication: Twenty Papers with 20/20 Vision on Publishing, which is also organized into a special virtual issue.

In this editorial, the editors-in-chief identify and address the many questions we would have such as which journal to publish in, how to organize the writing so that it effectively tells the scientific story, demystifying the review process, the importance of writing and the use of figures and several other key components of paper writing.

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Source: J. Phys. Chem. Lett., 2014, 5 (20), pp 3519–3521 DOI: 10.1021/jz502010v

So whether or not you are just starting your PhD program, knee-deep in your research, ready to publish, or dealing with a draft that needs some revisions, be sure to check out their virtual issue!

I am Science

At first I thought such a post was good for the About page but now I think it makes a lot more sense as a blog post. In 2012, Kevin Zelnio started an ‘I am science’ post in his blog of how he ended up in science. He was also interested in hearing about other scientists’ journeys. The response was overwhelming and he started a kickstarter project with the goal in his words: ‘to break down the scientist stereotype and highlight how much diversity of backgrounds really exist in science, where stereotypes in Hollywood and the media have done massive damage to the field. To reduce barriers to accessing this resource, the e-book will be made freely available for all major digital platforms (Kindle, iPad, Nook, pdf).’

Reading everyone’s stories is truly fascinating because we all took different paths here and the thing is the destination is not the same. There are truly many different careers in science. So don’t let what you think is out there discourage you from pursuing science. When reading through some of these, I even came across my undergraduate research advisor’s #IamScience post, which I highly recommend that you read: click this!   I have included my brief story below.

I am a third year PhD student in Professor Surita Bhatia’s lab within the Department of Chemistry at Stony Brook University. I do not study chemistry specifically; I work on improving the mechanical properties of multicomponent nanocomposite hydrogels for wound dressing and tissue engineering applications, which sure sounds like a mouthful. Breaking it down, what I study is a jello-like material that is made up of three components and I am trying to find a recipe that will give me the strongest jello to use as a bandaid for serious cuts and burns. I did not ever see myself working on cooking up the strongest ‘jello-like bandaid’ while I was in college or even before that but I always saw myself in science.

I grew up watching the Magic School Bus and Bill Nye the Science Guy and both television shows contributed greatly to my interest in taking up something in science as my choice career. One field of science did not take up more of my love than another. In elementary school, every few weeks we would receive a Scholastic pamphlet to order books and kits. This was huge because it was the time before internet for most people so books were the prime source of information besides the TV. What I really loved about the Scholastic pamphlets were the hands-on science kits. Each box contained a new little world to be explored. I learned about different rocks, monitored the weather especially during thunderstorms, tried to make a working motor, and many more.

For college, I really had no direction in which field to take up because I was interested in everything. In my Bio II class, I befriended my TA and found out that she was conducting research as an undergraduate student in a protein engineering lab and believing that this was my chance to get my hands dirty, I asked about how to join and contacted Professor Jin Montclare. My time was there was very stressful when coupled with courses and TAing that I took up but it was probably one of the best decisions I made. She really stressed about asking questions and everyone in the lab was very supportive and enthusiastic about what they were doing. It was a great environment to foster a confused undergraduate student. In the lab and in group meeting, I not only saw the action described by the journal publications and finally saw concepts that we learned in courses being applied to real world applications, I was finally a real part of it.

During my time there, I had was given the opportunity to help develop a pilot course to get 7th grade girls to be interested in chemistry and biology. I even had the chance to start and work on the website. It was then I decided that I had to be in research but also try to find time to reach out to others, particularly the younger generation and get them hyped about science. So it feels like I am taking forever to get to it, but what I needed and what everyone needs, is that role model/mentor figure that really encourages you to do good science, to ask more questions and to always be curious. I was fortunate to have several – Miss Frizzle, Bill Nye, my lab mates, my 6th grade teacher, Professor Jin Montclare and really all of my science teachers. So thanks to all of you for helping me shape who I am. I am science.

I am going to repeat it again, don’t let what you think is out there discourage you from pursuing science. Ask questions, but do try to do some research on the topic before you just go around asking questions. Be curious and don’t give up!

What’s your story?

Side notes:

1) Professor Montclare’s lab also has a blog. So check it out to see what cool science they are cooking up.

2) Professor Bhatia also has a research page so please visit to see what we are doing in the lab.

Positive Procrastination

Hello! This is my first blog post. My friends have said that I should start blogging about my interests in science and health a while ago when I started to spam my Facebook with links and my opinions. I put it off because it took a lot of work. Now that I am taking JRN 504 Using Digital Media at Stony Brook University, I have to make a blog so even though it is taking me some time, here it is!

Procrastination defined

From WikipediaProcrastination is the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time, sometimes to the “last minute” before the deadline.

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Source: http://pixabay.com/en/photos/analog%20clock/

Do you procrastinate?

I definitely do. We all have many different tasks that we have to do each day and each task has a different level of priority. In an ideal world, we would finish all of our work well before any of it is due so that we can spend more time doing something else. Unfortunately that is not what most of us do.

We all have our own way of trying remind ourselves to focus on completing our work – checklists, post-its, emails, calendars, alarms, and there are many more.

Don’t feel bad though! In a survey of more than 24,000 people from around the world, Dr. Piers Steel found that 95% of all people surveyed admitted that they procrastinated to some degree. Specifically, about 25% are chronic procrastinators, which is five times the rate in the 1970s. He says that this increase can be blamed on the increasing flexible nature of jobs with workers procrastinating for 25% of their day and students procrastinating about 33% of their day. (I want to find the source or publication where he has this information but I can’t find it right now so I will do it later.)

You can take Dr. Steel’s survey here. I did and that helped me waste about 1 minute of time from working on this blog post. I had said that my procrastination isn’t a big issue. When I submitted my response these were the results so far from other procrastinators:

My procrastination is annoying 41.56%  (5,189 votes)

My procrastination isn’t a big issue 6.11%  (763 votes)

I’ll tell you later 4.4%  (549 votes)

My procrastination is a helpful habit 1.66%  (207 votes)

Other: 0%  (39 votes)

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Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/29853404@N03/

Positive Procrastination

I always emailed myself lists of things to do each month, that week, down to the To Do for a particular day to really force myself to get things done. Of course there were things on the list that were more important than others, but as long as I crossed off some of the things on my list, I felt extremely satisfied and accomplished. So in my head, I didn’t consider this to be procrastination at all even though I was sometimes putting off more important things to do other things I had to do.

I first learned that there was science behind what I did from John Tierney’s piece in the NY Times.  Yes!! This particular type of procrastination is coined “positive procrastination,” but it also goes by “productive procrastination” from Dr. Piers Steel, as well as  “structured procrastination,” which is described by Dr. John Perry who realized that “Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing.” He says that all procrastinators delay working on things that they have to do, but structured procrastination is “the art of making this bad trait work for you.” The basic strategy is to have a prioritized task list and completing even the tasks that are lower in priority will put off doing the more important tasks, but in this way the procrastinator still is effectively getting work done.

Now what happens if the procrastinator slowly gets all the tasks of lower priority done and avoids the tasks at the top of the list altogether? Dr. Perry has something to say about that too. He says that “the trick is to pick the right sorts of projects for the top of the list.” The right sorts of projects: (1) appear to have clear deadlines but don’t, and (2) seem really important but are not. By picking such projects, you will not be completely screwed when you put these off. Of course with this in mind, positive procrastination is not for everyone.

Get back to work!

I think you have taken up enough of your time to read this blog post and even more time if you clicked on the hyperlinks, which do lead to more interesting readings. Completing this first blog post was on the top of my list of things to do today so I feel pretty accomplished. Cheers to all of you positive procrastinators and I will post again soon to take another few minutes away from your day!

Thanks for your time!

“Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.” ~ Christopher Parker, actor