de Pablo Group: Viviana Palacio-Betancur

Ph.D. Candidate

de Pablo Group


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Liquid crystals have become ubiquitous in display technology, but this material has a much larger potential for applications thanks to its peculiar properties. This mesophase deforms under shear stress, exhibits internal microstructure due to the anisotropy of its molecules, and the molecular ordering is affected by external fields, confinement, surface chemistry, or the presence of foreign agents. In order to create avenues for engineering new materials and devices, we resort to theory aided by computational methods.

Viviana’s research combines software development and the study of colloids assembly. She is implementing novel methods to simulate liquid crystals at the continuum scale, and improving the methods built in the de Pablo group in order to broaden the applicability to systems with anisotropic elasticity and complex geometries. She is also interested in colloids assembly at curved surface, and how the interplay of elasticity, anchoring, and geometry affect the stability of hierarchical structures.


Viviana is from Pereira, Colombia. She studied at Universidad Nacional de Colombia Sede Medellín where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering. She then joined Professor Hernández-Ortiz group where she obtained her Master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering studying the assembly of confined nanoparticles in nematic phases. In 2016 she became a Fulbright Fellow under a Colciencias grant to pursue her PhD in the US. She joined the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering in the Autumn of 2016 and is now a PhD candidate under the advisement of Professor de Pablo. In her spare time, Viviana enjoys cooking and learning new languages.

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