Skip to main content
WVU Morgantown’s new, phased return to campus delays the start of classes to August 26. Visit the Return to Campus website for the latest.

WVU physics student named art contest finalist at national magnetism conference

West Virginia University researchers are exploring new ways to promote their work at the intersection of art and science.

Mina Aziziha, a physics PhD student, was a finalist in the 2019 Intermag-Magnetism and Magnetic Materials Conference's Magnetism as Art contest in Washington, D.C.

Mina Aziziha
Mina Aziziha

A native of Tehran, Iran, Aziziha was one of four presenters to be named a finalist in the art showcase with her photography entry, “Magnetic UFO.”

“The goal of the competition was to use magnetism to create art,” Aziziha said. “I called it ‘Magnetic UFO’ because of the way it looks.”

The experience of viewing “Magnetic UFO” makes its name even more appropriate. Spikes of ferrofluid, a liquid with strong magnetic properties, sit on top of a clear watch glass with a strong magnet beneath them. The effect seen in the photograph is possible due to the reflection of these spikes of fluid reflecting in the glass, creating an image true to its name – realistic and futuristic.

Aziziha spent approximately 10 hours taking photos for the piece, which resulted in thousands of photos. She believes that the art contest was an opportunity to start conversations about physics research in a more accessible way.

“I didn’t even think people would like my art, but during the conference I received a lot of positive feedback,” Aziziha said. “The art is something tangible that everyone is interested in. Understanding physics is hard for most people, but when you show them a picture, they can relate to the concept.”

While attending the conference, Aziziha presented research on alloying copper aluminum oxide with iron. These materials have possible industrial application as photo-catalysts and transparent conductive oxides.  

Aziziha conducts experimental condensed matter and materials research alongside Professor of Physics Matthew Johnson and Eberly Distinguished Professor Emeritus Mohnidar Seehra.

The top photo is Mina's image, "Magnetic UFO."