The following is an excerpt.

Confused? Good. In real life, mustard and honey goes on top of the salmon loin when SFI CASA Professor Aase Reyes prepares dinner. The polymer foam stays at work.

Getting ready for the lab. Photo: Lena Knutli.
Getting ready for the lab. Photo: Lena Knutli.

“I wouldn’t say I’m a master chef, but I do enjoy cooking,” Reyes confesses. The salmon recipe just cited was served for dinner the day before this interview. It’s a family favourite, also with the six- and nine-year-olds.


Re-entering foams

What is it with foams?”

“They weigh next to nothing and they absorb energy. The combination of the two characteristics makes them attractive to the automotive industry. They keep coming back for more research.”

Which explains why Reyes is back to foams as part of a many-faceted professional journey.

Her master’s thesis was on earthquakes, with a plan to become a bridge engineer. That never happened. A fascination for research had been ignited. Like several of her peers, she had a chat with CASA director Magnus Langseth on the way. She knew he was looking for new PhD candidates. She applied for a faculty scholarship in 1998 and got it.


Material torture

So she met foams, first in aluminium, and took her PhD on the topic. Titles like “Constitutive modelling of aluminium foam including fracture and statistical variation of density” and “Aluminium foam-filled extrusions subjected to oblique loading: experimental and numerical study” illustrate the work she performed more than a decade ago.

Even to a non-expert, one message emerges from these titles: like all other SFI CASA professionals, Aase Reyes has extensive experience in the disciplines of torturing materials and structures. And she enjoys it.

“Performing tests is great fun. What I enjoy even more is the task that follows, analysing the test data and digging further into the matter,” she confesses.



After defending her PhD came a period without foams. One of the reasons was that SIMLab partner Hydro sold their foam-producing unit. Formability of aluminium alloys became a subject. As supervisor to PhD Candidate Dmitry Vysochinskiy, she helped investigate the possibilities for establishing reliable methods and tools to get the relevant data out of the tests performed.

Although she also reviews articles on impact, fracture and formability, a large percentage of the articles she receives for review still deal with foam. Low weight and high capacity for absorbing energy continues to be an attractive combination. Even so, use is limited. For several reasons. One is the relatively costly production of aluminium foam; another is the need for more research.


A knitter and a reader

All female professors at SFI CASA run, but Aase Reyes is eager to point out that she doesn’t take it as far as colleague Randi Holmestad, who risks being reported sick if she isn’t heard running in the corridors of her workplace.

Reyes prefers a beach, if she can. She first discovered the joy of beach running during a nine months’ research sabbatical in Florida. Since then she has tried Madagascar and Cuba. Next beach up could be in the Philippines, where she has family.

She also knits, but only for family members. And she reads. Amy Tan is a favourite, Isabel Allende another. Although both authors live in California, their respective roots in China and Chile are heavily reflected in their works. Aase Reyes likes that. She is drawn to new places and enjoys visiting them, even though it may provoke mixed feelings.

“Like Madagascar: definitely exciting, with impressive nature and fascinating wildlife, but also with a stark contrast to our living conditions.”


Back to foam

At present, Professor Reyes is back to foam. Polymer this time. The project of her latest PhD candidate, Daniel Morton, is to be able to model it better and thus increase the potential for innovative use in the automotive industry.

The starting point is to get an overview of the research that has already been done. From there, the challenge is to find the most interesting materials for research, putting them to the test, analysing the results, modelling the characteristics and validating them.

In addition to supervising PhD candidates, reviewing articles and all the rest, Reyes takes pleasure in the lecturing part of her job. That is part of being a dedicated professional, it seems.


Don’t forget the garlic

One more thing. Or two: garlic and lemon. Both should be added to the mustard and honey paste on the salmon. Bon appétit!