Materials Research Science and Engineering Center
Postdoctoral Fellow

Severine Atis
Department of Physics

Severine Atis is a post-doctoral fellow in the David Nelson group at the Physics Department in Harvard University. She earned her Master degree in Condensed Matter at the Universite Paris Sud in 2009. In CEA-Saclay, she became interested in complex systems while studying a turbulent phase transition in an experimental von Karman flow. She received her Ph.D. in Physics in 2013 at the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, where she conducted research with Dominique Salin and Laurent Talon on the universal behavior of growing interfaces through experiments and simulations. Her work initiated a collaboration with the theoreticians Kay Wiese and Pierre Le Doussal at Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. She was awarded a one-year French DGA visiting scholar fellowship, and moved to MIT where she worked with Thomas Peacock on Lagrangian coherent structures, inertial particle dispersion in chaotic mixing and internal waves propagation in stratified fluids.

Upon completing her fellowship, she started working with David Nelson, in collaboration with Andrew Murray, on the coupling of range expansion with hydrodynamic flows. Combining polymer physics and biology, she developed a novel technique to create controlled liquid interfaces over macroscopic scales, enabling the study of spatial structure development in large assemblies of cells growing in fluids. These experiments revealed that expanding population of microbes induce a flow by changing the buoyancy of the fluid in its surrounding, altering the colony growth dynamics and leading to a rapid colonization. This effort includes ongoing discussions with the Brenner group on the mechanisms of fingering instabilities observed in yeast cells colonies.