Industrial Maths in Barcelona (and Limerick)

Over the next 2 weeks we will showcase various research projects in Spain, with an obvious focus on Barcelona and a less obvious focus on Limerick. This is due to a number of recent exchanges between researchers from CRM and MACSI. Also, U. Limerick recently hosted the 128th ESGI and so we expect various contributions related to that activity.

The first CRM-Limerick contribution come from Marc Calvo, a PhD from CRM …

Heat flow at the nanoscale – Marc Calvo

In recent years the University of Limerick and the Mathematics Applications Consortium for Science and Industry have had close relations with our research group. The head of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at UL, Dr Sarah Mitchell worked many years ago with my supervisor Prof. Tim Myers in Cape Town as a postdoctoral researcher, South Africa and Vincent, one of Tim’s most recent postdoctoral fellows, is originally from Limerick. With these links in mind and the advice that UL has a lot to offer academically, a short stay did not seem such a bad idea.

Building his own network with other researchers is very important to a PhD student in the initial stages of his career, as well as being able to work abroad and, even more important, being able to leave his comfort zone and work on a large range of research areas. This visit UL can be described very accurately as a trip outside of my comfort zone, in more than one sense. My PhD is related to heat flow at the nanoscale, currently we are focussing on the Guyer-Krumhansel equations, which show that at sufficiently small scales heat moves in a manner similar to a viscous fluid. As the length-scale increases Fourier’s law is retrieved. At UL I worked with Sarah Mitchell on the application of numerical methods to the GK equations, developing numerical schemes for simple geometries, both fixed and with moving boundaries. Neither during my Bachelor nor during my Master degree had I ever studied numerical methods very deeply and therefore this trip was a real challenge for me. The second reason goes beyond academic issues, but it has been challenging as well. For somebody who is originally from sunny Barcelona it can be very hard to live in an area where it rains almost every day and where the sunny days are the exception rather than the rule. However, I managed to deal with the rain and in the end I had very productive months over there. I have learned a lot about numerical methods, which was actually the aim of the trip. The people at UL could only make the experience even better, and I took a lot of profit from discussions with other PhD students.

I can only say that UL offers a nice atmosphere to work and a lot to learn from all the different research areas on which people there investigate. It has been a very nice experience for me and I can only recommend it to everybody who wants to go abroad and grow as a researcher.

In addition, as a rugby fan I have to recommend going to see a match of the local team, Munster Rugby, winners of the Guinness Pro 12 Cup this season. One of the highlights of my stay without any doubt!

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