Alexander U. Adler

Behind the science

I have a number of interests and hobbies I pursue when not in the lab. Here's a bit about them.



I started improv in 2009 when the SPG Improv troupe was formed at Northwestern. The group began as a group of friends getting together and exploring the elements of group spontaneity, storytelling, and just having a good time. Since then, it's blossomed into a huge hit among the graduate school and with good reason: improv cultivates creative (and collaborative) thinking and fearless communication.


Well, that and it's fun to play pretend.


Whether it's getting up on stage and singing a duet about platypi or arguing with a taco, improv has helped me expand the limits of my own creativity and open-mindedness. By encouraging its members to get up on stage and fearlessly be wrong (there are no right or wrong answers in improv), SPG helps grad students feel even more confident when they're right.



I've always been interested in capturing the world around me through the lens of a camera. Like many people, I would look at a pretty sunset or a fall day and want to hold on to the moment just a bit longer. When I started a daily photo project, however, I wasn't sure I could find enough interesting subject matter in my day-to-day life to keep it going for more than a week.


The project lasted two years! During that time, I saw first hand that if I look for it, I can find an interesting perspective on even mundane things like the parking garage in "Above and Below" shown at the left for which I was fortunate enough to win a prize at the 2010 graduate student art fair.


For more photos, check out my SmugMug page.



I started sailing on the Hudson River as a kid. My parents would say, "let's go sailing! it will be relaxing!," which, to a child of 8, sounds like a form of punishment. It wasn't until sailing small boats on Lake Michigan that I really understood the thrill of sailing.


When I returned to the Hudson River, it was as a crew member on the Breakaway, a Tripp 37' captained by David Otterbein. While I only experienced a small portion of the regatta season, the heat and passion of racing were enough to leave me wanting more.



There was a tradition in Northwestern's Materials Science department called Coffee Hour, where every Thursday, a different group would host an hour of tasty treats and coffee for the department to enjoy while chatting about work or play. I started off baking Betty Crocker packages of brownies, but, in no time, I was challenging myself with treats like these chocolate covered beer marshmallows.


Alton Brown said at an Authors@Google talk that baking is like engineering. It sure is! Delicious engineering where at the end you get to enjoy a sweet or savory treat you prepared with your own floured hands.

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