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Wednesday 8th September 2021 to Friday 10th September 2021

Centre for Mathematical Sciences

United Kingdom


2021 will be the fifth year in the Edwards Symposium Series (please note the 2020 symposium was cancelled due to COVID), funded in part by ongoing generous support from Unilever, which continues until 2022. This year we plan to run the Symposium in a hybrid format - with some physical delegates and others joining remotely. This takes into account that not all individuals will be able to travel, but we hope to still welcome many of you back to Cambridge.

This Series was set up as a tribute to the life and work of Professor Sir Sam Edwards FRS, one of the great scientific minds of the 20th Century. It also recognises the fast evolving and diverse nature of soft matter science. Sir Sam played a pivotal role in bringing advances in the physical sciences to bear on major industrial problems. His fundamental contributions to the field of soft matter ranged from polymer melts, through gels, colloids, granular materials and glasses to optimisation problems.

Materials which fall within the soft matter category are those that are easily deformed by thermal fluctuations and external forces. These properties relate to many industrial and biological systems and puts soft matter at the centre of a wide range of disciplines. Soft matter science has also led to many materials and processes for industry while also posing new fundamental problems. The Symposium builds on Sir Sam’s realization that broad classes of soft materials are governed by unifying physical principles, arising from the geometry, topology and qualitative behaviour of their microscopic components, regardless of their detailed molecular or chemical character.

Studying the generic properties of soft matter can lead to fresh insights into a broad range of fundamental questions that cut across the whole of condensed matter physics. Therefore, this Edwards Symposium Series recognises the fast evolving and diverse nature of the field and each year focuses on different areas of new and emerging science.

Aims & Objectives

A key aim of the Edwards Symposium Series is to highlight the latest developments in soft matter science with a particular (but not exclusive) emphasis on theoretical and mathematical models, and on how these models can inform industrial processes, materials, and design. Leading academic speakers convey their latest scientific work, aiming to foster collaborative and interdisciplinary discussions across the industry/academia boundary.

In 2021, the workshop focusses on the following soft matter areas:

  • Polymer melt dynamics and process rheology

  • Informatic approaches to soft matter

  • Functional gels

  • Soft matter for sustainable foods

In keeping with previous symposiums, these themes pose fundamental questions in basic science that will be addressed by distinguished academic speakers. Their industrial relevance will be reflected by the prominence at the Symposium of industrial participants whose oral presentations, posters and informal discussions will inform the discussions and, we hope, lead to concrete future collaborations, of benefit to both sides.


The Edwards Symposia are organised jointly by the Newton Gateway to Mathematics and the Edwards Centre for Soft Matter. The latter is a virtual laboratory, encompassing staff from six Cambridge University Departments, whose role is to promote academic collaborations in Soft Matter Science across the University.

Registration and Venue

The fifth Edwards Symposium will take place at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Cambridge on 8th-10th September 2021.

There will be a nominal registration fee. (In 2019 it was £90 for non-academics and £70 for academics, with an additional charge for the conference dinner.)

En-suite accommodation will be available locally at Robinsons College. (In 2019 the cost was £78.00 per night).

Full costing details will be available soon.


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