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Interview with Mats Wallin

Published Jan 28, 2022
Mats Wallin

Hello Mats, tell us a little bit about your position at KTH; what does the role entail?

I am a professor of theoretical physics at the Physics department and also director of AlbaNova. I teach thermodynamics and quantum mechanics for the Engineering Physics program and am also currently involved in developing the physics course for the new Engineering Mathematics program. My research is in condensed matter physics and is mostly computational. As AlbaNova director, I work with coordination of KTH-SU interests. The construction of the new Albano campus outside my office window is a very exciting development that considerably enriches the AlbaNova environment.

There will be four new Ph.D. positions announced in the upcoming month, and you are part of the group that is working on that. Could you describe the initiative and the selection process

The initiative comes from the head of the SCI school, Sandra di Rocco. Four PhD positions in the research areas of the school will be announced soon. Applicants should find a supervisor employed at the SCI school and jointly formulate a research plan. The selection process will be done by a recruitment committee and will involve evaluation of the applications and interviews with applicants.

What is the goal of such an initiative?

The goal is to offer PhD positions to students with excellent study merits, research plans and potential for successful PhD study. A corresponding KTH program with excellence PhD positions existed in the past and was successful. A similar SCI program has been wanted by many for quite some time. I think that it is a very welcome initiative.

How was the group work carried out?

A working group consisting of SCI professors Anna-Karin Tornberg, Peter Gudmundson, Hans Hertz and myself was formed in late 2021. The group formulated a detailed description of the positions, selection process, and the announcement text and reported to the head of the SCI school.

What are the expectations?

Great. These positions are prestigious and should receive a broad interest. We expect that many students will be interested in having an excellence PhD position and hope to find many strong applications. Of course, the aim is that the final outcome of the four excellence positions will be that the SCI school produces four excellent PhDs.

What are the research fields of the new positions?

The positions are open for all fields of research done at the SCI departments, Physics, Applied Physics, Engineering Mechanics and Mathematics.

When will the new students start their research work at KTH?

The start will be after summer 2022.

How do you maintain gender balance and equality throughout the selection process?

This is one of the motivations behind the excellence positions. Female candidates will be particularly welcome to apply, and the selection committee will pay careful attention to this aspect. We think that this can make a positive contribution to gender balance. History provides support to this expectation. When the program was used before at KTH, many excellent female students had excellence PhD positions followed by good careers in industry or academia. An example is given by one of the members of the present working group.

Text: Elina Charatsidou