My research has a marked interdisciplinary character which, broadly speaking, uses mathematical modelling and statistical mechanics as core disciplines to address questions relevant to a broad range of fields including condensed matter physics, materials science, biological and environmental sciences.
Many solids undergo complex structural changes when subject to changes of temperature or mechanical load. For instance, this is the case of shape-memory alloys used for medical implants, cars, and many other applications. Such structural changes are associated with phase transitions that typically obey intermittent dynamics characterised by discrete transformation events and intrinsic evolving heterogeneity (e.g. dislocations). Our research uses lattice models derived from continuous theories of mechanics of solids to understand these complex dynamics.
Numerical simulations predicting the evolution of the microstructure of martensites under thermal cycling
Systems exhibiting a collective avalanche response when driven externally are ubiquitous. Examples of such phenomena include earthquakes, magnetization reversal, structural phase transitions and collective opinion shifts. The zero-temperature Random Field Ising Model (zt-RFIM) is a prototype model for this class of systems assuming that avalanche behaviour is a consequence of disorder (i.e. heterogeneities of diverse nature) present in the system. Our results are based on exact analytical approaches and numerical simulations.
Exact results for the magnetisation and correlation length of the zt-RFIM on bi-layered Bethe lattices
Physical systems which consist of networks of pores, such as Vycor, Silica aerogels, porous rocks, soil, and others, have a wide spectrum of applications, ranging from molecular filters and catalysts to fuel storage. Capillary condensation is an important and peculiar physical phenomenon occurring in many such systems. We devise lattice gas models which allow the heterogeneity of porous media to be properly incorporated in the description condensation.
Lattice gas model to study capillary condensation in mesoporous silica SBA-15
In the last decades, network science has emerged as a successful field aiming at a systematic understanding of many complex systems. We use network representations of populations of individuals to describe the spread of infection or social phenomena over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales (e.g. from towns and farms to entire countries or the whole world). The main aim is to understand how the mechanisms of transmission of, e.g. infection or ideas, between individuals affect the overall ability of the spreading phenomenon to invade a large portion of the population.
Invasions of constructive and interferring spreaders
Soil biological invasion using network representations for the soil pore space
Explosive transitions to large social contagion
Colloids play an important role in the transfer of nutrients and pollutants in the environment. We are combining mathematical models and experiments to understand the dynamics of colloidal suspensions in solid surfaces and porous media.
Morphologies of stains left by evaporating drops. Different morphologies and attachments are obtained depending on the surface tension
Biochar are widely used materials for soil management. The central objective of this research is to determine how the physico-chemical properties of biochar are influenced by the processing parameters (i.e. the starting organic material and pyrolysis temperature). A Biochar Engineering web application was developed to determine suitable preparation strategies to obtain biochars with pre-set properties.
Correlations between different properties of biochar
We integrate mathematical models (e.g. on networks), genomics and risk assessment to understand the transmission dynamics of bacterial gastrointestinal pathogens such as Campylobacter or Listeria. These pathogens can be found in the environment and are hosted by different types of hosts including humans or animals used for food production (e.g. chickens or salmon).