Interview with Alexia Beale (jIAPS Editor-in-Chief)

The current jIAPS Editor-in-Chief has been interviewing IAPS EC members. Now it is the time for two Editor-in-Chiefs to interview each other. After the interview with Zlatan Vasović, last year’s  jIAPS Editor-in-Chief, the tables have turned. Today Zlatan is interviewing  Alexia Beale, our current Editor-in-Chief.

 jIAPS is currently looking for next year’s Editor-in-Chief. Could it be you? Email us at for more information on how to apply.

As a PhD student, what makes you interested in IAPS?

There are two answers – official and unofficial.

Official: IAPS is amazing and you get the chance to meet other physics students from all over the world. 

Unofficial: I should have joined IAPS as an undergrad, but I didn’t until final year. For a while, I was part of the IAPS Discord server without knowing anyone. You need to message people and get actively involved to get the most out of IAPS. 

What is your field of research?

I’m studying Soft Matter Physics. My research project is on Colloidal Gelation Inside Porous Structures – this is a similar process to how they manufacture rubber gloves. One of the aims of my research is trying to coat the inside of channels with a gel layer without plugging the channel.

My work overlaps with chemistry and biology, and you get to meet people from a variety of academic backgrounds. For those of you who don’t know, Soft Matter includes anything from ice cream and jelly, to polymers. My research is experimental, as I image samples using fluorescent microscopy, perform X-ray CT scans and use coagulant dipping to create gels. I’m really enjoying being part of a research group at the University of Surrey and learning more about colloidal gels. 

You’ve been quite active as the Editor-in-Chief. How do you manage your time between IAPS, studies, and other activities?

I probably don’t manage it completely, but I try to schedule my time properly. I just plan a part of each day for what I need to do, for different activities.

Of all the things you’ve done in IAPS, what is the most special to you?

Starting the monthly Photo Contest on Discord. It’s really nice to see people posting photos every month and getting prizes.

Who have been your inspirations in your IAPS work?

Jim Grozier has provided a main source of  inspiration [he is the former IAPS Archivist and author of “Made in Hungary”, a seminal work on the first 25 years of IAPS]. I actually got to meet him in person last November at the IOP Fuse event which was held in conjunction with IAPS4Materials in London. His enthusiasm and his writing have definitely inspired me.

Another inspiration is James Kneller. I’m doing what he used to be doing in the UK – going around to the events and telling people how great IAPS is.

What does it take to become an “Editor-in-Chief”?

You have to write a CV and a cover letter, and send them to the IAPS EC email (… and if you’re lucky, win at the annual general meeting (AGM).

Suppose I am a curious student who wants to join the jIAPS Staff. How can I do that?

There are many ways to join. Either email us at or message anyone in jIAPS on the IAPS Discord or any other social media (you will notice us, we are posting a lot). We’re quite open to new people, so we’re waiting for you to join us!

Why should anyone get involved in IAPS? What would be your advice to them?

IAPS is a fantastic community. Joining IAPS is an amazing opportunity – there is so much to get involved with, from attending IAPS events in person, to chatting to people on the IAPS Discord. I recommend joining in the conversation on Discord and maybe even messaging random people on there – you can make friends really easily. 

You’ve also been digging through the history of IAPS. What is the most interesting thing you’ve found?

I was very fortunate to receive some old copies of jIAPS from Jim Grozier. I have been enjoying reading through them and learning more about past IAPS ECs and the events they organised. One category title I came across in an old jIAPS was ‘Minerva’s Miscellany’ – I’d like to use it somewhere for jIAPS but haven’t found a use for it yet.

If you want to learn more about the History of IAPS, “Made in Hungary” is a great place to start – you may even find out what Serbians get up to in the early mornings when they organise ICPS.

When you don’t do your work, what do you like to do the most?

Playing the piano and viola – I play in several different orchestras.

Overall, have you enjoyed leading the journal of IAPS in the past year?

Yes. (There is no other allowed answer, is there?)  It is a great experience and very different from the day-to-day PhD research. There are lots of different tasks to be involved with – organising the Article and Creative Contests, receiving articles for jIAPS, creating social media posts…

Is your editorial for the jIAPS 2023 edition ready? (And why not?)

In fact, I wrote it right after I was elected (on August 8, 2022). Reading it now, a lot of predictions turned out not to be true… But it seems the editorial will be really finished at the end of creating the journal, as is the tradition.

Alexia has left the meeting in hopes of finishing her editorial on time. We wish her the best of luck!