Lucky Encounters: From Optical Tweezers to deep Learning

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Physics Department
University of Gothenburg



Giovanni Volpe (@VolpeResearch) is Full Professor at the Physics Department of the University of Gothenburg, where he leads the Soft Matter Lab since 2016. Before that, he earned a MSc in Telecommunications Engineering from the University of Padua (2004) and a PhD in Applied Physics from ICFO (2008), he was postdoc at the Max-Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (2009-2011), and he was Assistant Professor at the Physics Department of Bilkent University (2012-2016). He has published more than 90 articles (>6000 citations, h-index 39, on diverse topics including optical trapping, active matter, machine intelligence and neurosciences. He has co-authored the book “Optical Tweezers: Principles and Applications” (Cambridge University Press, 2015). He is the recipient the ERC Starting Grant ComplexSwimmers as well as the ERC Proof of Concept Lucero, and is the coordinator of the MSCA Innovative Training Networks ActiveMatter. He chairs the yearly SPIE conference “Emerging Topics in Artificial Intelligence” While a PhD student in ICFO, he created the ICFO OSA Student Chapter together with GP Singh and conceived the IONS Project together with Armand Niederberger.


In this semi-autobiographical talk, I will look back at my career and its evolution. It all started at ICFO with a PhD on optical tweezers in 2008. It then continued with a series of diverse research projects on different fields: active matter, stochastic thermodynamics, neurosciences and, finally, deep learning. I will emphasize how my career has been shaped by lucky encounters. Encounters that have taken me to places and topics I’d never have imagined beforehand. But it all makes sense, in insight.

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