RheoCube Expert Interview with Carolien Vis, PhD

20 May 2021

The RheoCube team is made up of a diverse group of scientists, researchers, thinkers, and dreamers. In our latest series, we bring you some of the behind-the-scenes drivers of RheoCube. Today we have Carolien Vis, PhD, who shares some insights into what led her to Electric Ant Lab, and her role as a scientific consultant working on RheoCube. 

What made you interested in chemistry early on? 

My first encounter with chemistry was in high school with a very knowledgeable and effective teacher. He really made me feel enthusiastic about chemistry, showing that chemistry is not just a subject in school but all around us. It is so fundamental in how our reality is built. I chose to study chemistry at the University of Amsterdam because I wanted to better understand the world around me, and how chemistry both balances and enriches our lives.

How did you find simulation software as a career?

When I was finishing my PhD thesis, I started looking for a new job. Though I enjoyed my time in academia at UU (Utrecht University), I wanted to try something new and challenging in the private sector. I saw this vacancy for scientific consultancy at Electric Ant Lab and was intrigued by the idea of using software to simulate complex fluids. I didn’t have any real experience with simulations myself, but as I mentioned before, I like to understand how and why things happen. And that is something you can get by using simulations to gain more knowledge and deeper insights on. 

What ignites your passion for scientific consultancy?

What I really like about my job is the versatility of the work. Within a single day I could be finding answers to a client’s problem, then testing the software, helping colleagues with validating models and maybe having a client meeting. As a scientific consultant, the world is incredibly diverse. I can use all my scientific knowledge and skills but also develop my soft skills in the commercial side of our product. 

Where do you see RheoCube positioned in the future?

I think RheoCube will be a very valuable product for chemical companies working with complex fluids. It will help to predict what the effect of a certain ingredient or ingredient replacement is on the behavior of a formulation. With that, smarter decisions can be made in the production process and therefore product development can be sped up. And as we are still developing our models, the predictive capabilities will only increase in the coming years. As I see it, in the future, RheoCube (and other simulation software) can really help the chemical industry to become more sustainable. If a big part of the trial and error phase of formulating will be done digitally, smarter choices will be made and less chemicals will be wasted.

What aspects about RheoCube do you find the most interesting to discuss?

Actually, what I think is most interesting about RheoCube is the versatility of the product. With only a few input parameters, it can be used to predict rheology and stability of all kinds of complex fluids. This would include particle suspensions, emulsions, and polymer solutions. And while our main focus has previously been on simulating these phenomena on the mesoscale, we have now added simulations on the microscale to RheoCube as well. I‘m looking forward to the moment we will be able to couple these two scales and make our product even more unique.

What are some of the biggest challenges you see in the field?

From what I’ve seen so far in the formulating industries, there is still a lack of knowledge on why one formulation works and the other doesn’t. This results in a lot of trial and error based on guessing or just using an ingredient because it is available. I think it’s key to gain more understanding on the existing formulations and from there new formulations can be developed.

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