Graduate Student Lavanya Mohan Awarded Fellowships from France

Lavayna Mohan outside the chemical engineering building at UT AustinLavanya Mohan, a graduate researcher advised by Professor and Department Chair Roger T. Bonnecaze, has been awarded the Chateaubriand Fellowship and Eiffel Fellowship to fund a 6-month study at the ESPCI ParisTech research center in Paris, France.  Lavanya will be performing experiments on advanced rheological additives-substances that modify the flow behavior of materials.

“This will be my first time in Europe and my first time doing experimental research-I am very excited,” said Lavanya. “I’m grateful to Professor Bonnecaze and Michel Cloitre from ESPCI ParisTech for their support, and also to Professors Truskett, Ganesan and Anantharaman for their recommendations.”

Lavanya creates tools to understand and design soft particle pastes, like microgels, used as additives in high-performance coatings, drilling muds or textured food and personal care products-like skin creams and lotions. These materials are required to have certain flow behavior for different conditions.

Concentrated microgels under small stresses retain elasticity and show yield stress, thus they prevent sedimentation of particulates in products during transport and storage. Under larger stresses these materials start to flow in order to be easily spread, like when applying lotion to skin. Lavanya’s goal is to better understand these materials in order to enable their customized design to suit varying processing, storage and consumer requirements.

“Lavanya is extremely productive and inventive,” said Professor Bonnecaze. “Her award of these prestigious international fellowships is well-deserved indeed.”

To date, Lavanya has worked on 3-D computational models that have predicted the flow behavior of materials under different conditions and revealed microstructural changes that impact their behavior. She has also developed theories to predict paste microstructure at rest and under strain.  Some of Lavanya’s work was published earlier this year in Nature Materials and Soft Matter.

Lavanya’s experiments involving particle tracking at ESPCI ParisTech aim to validate the computational tools she has developed so far, and provide useful information to develop efficient multi-scale models for these materials in the future.

Originally from Chennai, India, Lavanya received a bachelor of technology in chemical engineering from the National Institute of Technology in Tiruchirappalli in 2008.  She was a summer research fellow at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Bangalore, India in 2006 and 2007.


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