Congratulations to Skanda Vivek recipient of the 2015 Montag Physics Award
Skanda Vivek has been awarded the Jim and Ethel Montag Graduate Physics Award for the 2015-2016 academic year. The Jim and Ethel Montag Graduate Physics Award is awarded annually to an exceptional graduate student for accomplishments in physics research. Recipients receive an additional $2000 to their stipend the year they receive the award. The award is granted to the student (US Citizens only) with the most significant accomplishment in research. The Montag Graduate Physics Award was established by James L. Montag (58C) and his late wife Ethel in honor of Prof. Fereydoon Family, for his mentoring and academic influence of their son Lee Montag (85C). The 2014-2015 academic year was the first year this award was given.
Skanda Vivek recently published the paper "Measuring and overcoming limits of the Saffman-Delbruck model for soap film viscosities," S. Vivek and E.R. Weeks, PLoS ONE 10, e0121981 (2015). In this paper, Skanda examined the Brownian motion of small tracer particles trapped in a soap film. The Saffman-Delbruck model, along with its extensions by later authors, can relate the single-particle diffusivity to the soap film thickness, but this breaks down for thicker films. Skanda found that the diffusive motion is faster than expected for films about five times thicker than the tracer particle diameter, suggesting that thick films seem more like three-dimensional fluids as far as the tiny particles are concerned. Intriguingly, Skanda showed that if one measures correlations between the motion of pairs of particles, the correlations are still related to the soap film thickness for both thick and thin films. This allows one to measure the viscosity of a soap film no matter what the thickness. All of this work required precise measurements of soap film thicknesses, which was done by a special apparatus that Skanda built which uses infrared absorption to measure the thickness. Overall, Skanda's results indicate that for tiny particles in thick films, they move as if the film is really an infinitely thick three-dimensional fluid, whereas the flow fields at long length scales are always quasi-two-dimensional no matter how thick the film may be.
Skanda is also a co-author on two other papers, both stemming from work he has done at Emory. Skanda is a native U.S. citizen, although he grew up in India. He has a B.S. degree in physics, chemistry, and math from St. Josephs College, Bangalore, India. He then earned a M.S. in Physics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, India before coming to Emory in Fall 2011. He has presented his work several times at the American Physical Society March Meeting. He has served as the treasurer, vice president, and now the president of the Young Emory Physicists club.