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Understanding polymer networks requires a network of sciences. Only the aggregation of statistics, physics, and chemistry can unfold the nature of polymers, and only composited with engineering and life sciences, this knowledge catalyzes the progression of material science and the unraveling of biology.

Research profile

Stijn van Leuken is a Ph.D. student at the Laboratory of Physical Chemistry. His research focuses on theoretically connecting the microscopic and macroscopic properties of polymers. Polymers are everywhere: from engineered materials to biological systems, from water-repellant to superabsorbent and from stiff to ductile. The vast number of monomers to combine allows for broadly tunable properties in materials. But how do we know the effect of changing the chemical composition or position of a monomer?

In new applications, we desire the optimal features, resulting in the need for many time-consuming experiments where a large variety of polymers is compared, or, the use of theory. By developing theories that apply to all these variations in polymers, we can understand and describe a large variety of systems. With these theories, we can predict the optimal combination of polymers to use for an application and limit the needed amount of experiments, as well as improve understanding of polymers in technology and biology.

Education and Teaching

Stijn van Leuken completed his bachelor’s in physics at Eindhoven University (with honors) in 2015. In his bachelor project, he studied the directionality of diffusion on curved surfaces in the 'Responsive Soft Matter' group at Eindhoven University. Afterward, he completed the physics master program in 'Bio/Nanoscience and Technology’ (with honors) and the master certificate program in 'Complex Molecular Systems.' During his master project, he studied DNA catch bonds.

During these bachelor and master programs, Stijn finished the 'Scientific Debate,' 'Big Data,' and 'Personal Leadership & Excellence for Science' honors programs, and cofounded the honors study association 'Confluente.' Before he started his Ph.D. program in February of 2019, he worked in four different research groups. He did nine months of theoretical work at the 'Theoretical Biophysics' group at Eindhoven University, four months of experimental work at the 'Biophysics group' at AMOLF and six months of experimental work at the 'Manoharan lab' and 'Wong lab' at Harvard University.

Education and Teaching


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