Photo of Marianne Liebi.
​​Marianne Liebi, Department of Physics at Chalmers, is awarded the L'Oréal-Unesco For Women in Science Award 2018.
​Photo: Emma Burendahl

Awarded for her physics research

​Marianne Liebi, Assistant Professor at the Department of Physics at Chalmers, has been awarded the L'Oréal-Unesco For Women in Science Award. The prize is intended to pay attention to female researchers at the beginning of their career. She received the award from Helene Hellmark Knutsson, Minister of Higher Education and Research, in a ceremony in Stockholm, 7 March, 2018.
​"The prize represents recognition of my work and trust in me that I am on a good way to become a more independent scientist." 
Marianne Liebi uses powerful X-ray technology to study how, for example, the smallest building blocks in bone tissue, collagen fibrils organize. The goal is to develop a tempering, biomimetic material, where nature's own design principles are imitated and applied to develop artificial bone and cartilage.
What is your driving force?
"Working on projects in a team with different experts, trying to understand the world around us a little bit better. The excitement during a beamtime running day and night if the experiment finally is successful can compensate for many hours of frustration."
What expectations you have for the coming year?
"In the coming year the main task is to build my group and establish myself as a supervisor. My first PhD student will start in a few weeks, I am really looking forward to this."
What do you hope that your research will lead to in the long run?
"I hope that my research will help to bring new methods [such as SAXS tensor tomography, with which I mainly work] developed at large scale facilities and the application in university and industrial research closer together. For that it is important to have specialists also placed at the university which can bring the new development into education and can assist new users of the method to get started."
Marianne Liebi has been awarded the prize for "the constructive use of advanced imaging methods for biomaterials with the aim of understanding the connection between molecular and mechanical properties".
What do you wish for in the future?
"I wish that there is no such price as the Women in Science award because the gender simply doesn't matter any more and there is instead a prize for young scientists in general.

More about Marianne and her research

Marianne Liebi is Assistant Professor in Materials Science at the Department of Physics at Chalmers University of Technology, since August 2017. Before that, she worked as a scientist at the Swedish synchrotron (MAX IV Laboratory, Lund University), to which she remains affiliated. The focus of her research is in the development of advanced X-ray imaging techniques and their application towards on materials with hierarchical structures. With a background in food science, she started using large-scale facilities for the characterization of materials during her PhD. As a postdoc working at the Swiss synchrotron (Paul Scherrer Institute), she started working on method development in X-ray scattering and imaging.

She earned her PhD in Food Science 2013 at Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) Zurich, Switzerland.
Today's X-ray imaging methods used in research today go far beyond from what is possible in a conventional radiography or CT used in hospitals. Using the very bright X-ray beam, as produced by the Swedish national synchrotron radiation facility MAX IV in Lund, one can for example visualize how tiny fibers, thousand times finer than a human hair, are organized in biological or artificial materials.

Marianne Liebi and her collaborators have developed a method that allows such studies in intact three-dimensional samples. Human bone for instance is made of such tiny fibers, so called collagen fibrils. One major feature of these fibers is that they are ordered and aligned differently depending on the part of the bone where they are found, thereby adapting determining the local mechanical stability. Together with different bone experts, Marianne Liebi applies this method to characterize bone in embryonic development or around implants that slowly degrade while new bone material is being formed. The method will be key in a project to develop a biomimetic material, which uses design principles from nature to create artificial bone and cartilage. 3D printing is used to introduce similar alignment of the artificial fibers as found for the collagen fibrils within bone in order to create a material with similar mechanical properties.

Marianne Liebi

Published: Wed 07 Mar 2018. Modified: Thu 08 Mar 2018