​Yasmine Sassa, Assistant Professor at the Condensed Matter Physics department. Photo: Mats Hulander

Meet Yasmine Sassa - new Assistant Professor

​Since April 1, 2019, Yasmine Sassa is an Assistant Professor working at the Condensed Matter Physics department at Chalmers. Here is an opportunity to get to know her a bit better.
Growing up in Paris, Yasmine developed an early interest for science. She had a natural talent for dismounting things to learn how they worked and was encouraged by her parents who brought her different science kits and often took her and her brother to interactive science museums in Paris. Her interest in science led her to an MSc degree in physics at the Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris, in combination with an engineering degree. In the final year of her studies Yasmine went to Switzerland to do her master thesis at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI). There she got in contact with people who worked with synchrotron radiation and realized that she liked to work at large scale facilities. After a short time working at a company in Paris, Yasmine missed research and went back to Switzerland to start her PhD with her former thesis supervisor at PSI. After the PhD was completed Yasmine did a post-doc at ETH Zurich, after which she got Wenner-Gren funding for a second post-doc position in Uppsala, Sweden. Since April 1, Yasmine is an Assistant Professor in the Condensed Matter Physics group at Chalmers.

Could you briefly describe your research interests?
I am working in the field of condensed matter physics, looking at materials where you have strong interactions between the electrons and where the materials behave in unexpected ways. One example of this is superconductivity, where zero electrical resistance and expulsion of magnetic flux fields occur in certain materials (superconductors) when cooled below a characteristic critical temperature. We still do not fully understand the mechanism that drives materials to become superconductive. Currently, we need either very high pressures and/or low temperatures to reach these unconventional states and one major thing would be to develop, or improve materials so that they can function for use in everyday life. In general, I am interested in understanding such unconventional phenomena emerging from electron correlations.

What got you interested in this area?
Superconductivity is the topic that made me continue with this field as a student. It was actually an internship I did in my first year of master, about 3-4months. I worked in a lab, which collaborated with ESA, outside of Paris, and my project was to fabricate and characterize superconducting bolometer for microwave detection. My supervisor was very nice and very interested in the applications, but I realized that I was more interested in the fundamental questions. I wanted to understand the material more than what we could use it for.

What do you like most about your job?
What I like most about my job is the opportunity to explore new things and new ideas, basically the freedom of exploring ideas and expanding knowledge in different ways. I also like that you can talk to your colleagues over coffee and learn something completely new from them. I also like big equipment, and I love doing experiments. I like collaborative work, trying to find solutions and answers. I also love teaching, I think it is very Inspirational to teach. It is one of the most rewarding things with my job actually, to see the students learn and understand something during the course and even get more interested in the topic. Some students have even finished PhDs in subjects that I thought and are now research colleagues instead of students.

Why did you choose Chalmers?
I have met people from Chalmers in meetings and at conferences. I talked to them and got interested in their work. I did some reading on the webpage and liked that Chalmers seemed to have a lot of collaborations with industry. I also think that Chalmers has a good international reputation. While being in France and Switzerland, I only knew two Swedish universities and one of them is Chalmers. Having been here for about a month now, I also appreciate how well things are handled administratively. I also find people being very welcoming, helpful and open-minded about new research directions.

What is the best advice you have ever received?
It is a quote by Charles Kettering that my Senior Professor at ETH used to tell me. One day he printed it for me on a note which I have saved and brought with me everywhere. I actually have pinned it to the board over my desk here at Chalmers.  It says: “Focus on the future, as that is where we are going to be spending the rest of our lives.”

What do you like to do when you are not working on research?
Actually, I really do like to think about science, even when I am not working. My work is my passion and I am lucky to be able to work with what I like. When I had the interview for the position I got the feeling that the HR representative found me a bit strange. I later found out that they made a comment about me saying “this girl just thinks about science”. But when I do not think about science I enjoy doing different sports. I particularly like swimming and cross-country skiing. I also like to watch movies in cinemas. And I also like animals a lot, all animals, but especially cats. If I had more time I would like to help out in cat shelters.

Photo: Mats Hulander
Text: Kristina Karlsson

Published: Thu 09 May 2019.