Physics student named finalist in art competition at National Conference on Magnetism

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University of West Virginia researchers are exploring new ways to promote their work at the intersection of art and science.

Mina Aziziha, a physics PhD student, was a finalist of the 2019 Magnetism as Art competition at the Intermag-Magnetism and Magnetic Materials conference in Washington, DC

Originally from Tehran, Iran, Aziziha was one of four presenters to be named a finalist in the art showcase with her photographic entry, “Magnetic UFO”.

“The purpose of the competition was to use magnetism to create art,” Aziziha said. “I called it ‘Magnetic UFO’ because of its appearance.”

The experience of viewing “Magnetic UFO” makes its name even more appropriate. Spikes of ferrofluid, a liquid with powerful magnetic properties, sit on a transparent watch glass with a strong magnet underneath. The effect seen in the photograph is made possible by the reflection of these fluid spikes reflecting in the glass, creating an image true to its name – realistic and futuristic.

Aziziha spent around 10 hours taking photos for the room, resulting in thousands of photos. She believes the art competition was an opportunity to start conversations about physics research in a more accessible way.

“I didn’t even think people would like my art, but during the conference I received a lot of positive feedback,” Aziziha said. “Art is something tangible that everyone is interested in. Understanding physics is difficult for most people, but when you show them a picture, they can relate to the concept.”

While attending the conference, Aziziha presented research on alloying copper and aluminum oxide with iron. These materials have possible industrial application as transparent conductive photocatalysts and oxides.

Aziziha conducts experimental research on condensed matter and materials alongside physics professor Matthew Johnson and Eberly professor emeritus emeritus Mohnidar Seehra.


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