Yael Avni’s PhD research in physics at Tel Aviv University focused on charged soft matter—the colloids, polymers, gels, and liquids that are present in everyday life. Made of ionic solutions with charged macromolecules, the common denominator of these diverse materials is that their self-organization and structural transformations are governed by electrostatic interactions. During her PhD studies, Dr. Avni used tools from statistical mechanics, hydrodynamics, and out-of-equilibrium physics to develop theoretical models that explain non-intuitive experimental observations and enhance our understanding of these materials.
In her postdoctoral work at the University of Chicago’s James Franck Institute, which specializes in research at the intersection of materials science, condensed matter physics, physical chemistry, and atomic, molecular, and optical physics, Dr. Avni intends to extend her interest in charged soft matter and in solving problems of relevance to biology using the tools of physics. She is also interested in active phase transitions and their applications in biological systems such as neural networks, as well as in far-from-equilibrium self-assembly and growth dynamics.
Dr. Avni is the recipient of many prestigious Israeli awards and fellowships. Her postdoctoral research, in addition to the Zuckerman fellowship, is supported by the Kadanoff-Rice fellowship, offered by the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) at the University of Chicago, which investigates design principles for materials of the future.
Dr. Avni’s community service focuses on encouraging women in science and supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds.