Christ Church Chemical Engineer wins applied mathematics prize for paint drying research

Dr Clare Rees-Zimmerman, a Christ Church Junior Research Fellow in Chemical Engineering, has won the 2023 IMA (Institute of Mathematics and its Applications) Lighthill-Thwaites Prize.

Clare Rees-Zimmerman

This is a biennial prize based on an early career applied maths paper. The eight finalists presented their papers at the BAMC (British Applied Mathematics Colloquium) 2023 in Bristol, where the prize was announced.

The paper submitted for the prize can be read in full here:

The paper reflects the work carried out during Dr Rees-Zimmerman’s PhD, essentially on how paint dries. The paper models how particles of different sizes arrange themselves in a film as it dries – the aim being to control this for engineering applications. The paper demonstrates how a phenomenon called diffusiophoresis can explain experimental observations of small particles preferentially accumulating at the top surface. Dr Rees-Zimmerman derived asymptotic (approximate analytical) solutions to characterise the fast evaporation regime, in which scientists can achieve a top layer of almost entirely small particles.

The judging panel congratulated Dr Rees-Zimmerman on the level of independence and novelty of her work, the clarity of her presentation, and the wider appreciation of applied mathematics, despite her background being from chemical engineering.