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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 ran the Symposium in a hybrid format - with some delegates joining in person and others remotely. This took into account that not all individuals were able to travel,

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 was 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 conveyed their latest scientific work, aiming to foster collaborative and interdisciplinary discussions across the industry/academia boundary.

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

  • Polymer melt dynamics and process rheology

  • Informatic approaches to soft matter

  • Functional gels and energy materials

  • Soft matter for sustainable foods

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


Institute of Physics Early Career Lecturer Award

Congratulations to Thomas O’Connor of Carnegie Melon University on winning this year’s Institute of Physics (IoP) Early Career Lecturer Award for his talk on Modelling Polymer Dynamics at the Non-equilibrium Frontier at the recent 5th Edwards Symposium - Future Directions in Soft Matter event. 

The Liquids & Complex Fluids Group make an award to the Symposium for an outstanding early career speaker. David Zwicker was the first recipient of this IoP award at the 4th Symposium in 2019. Usually the award would go towards meeting the travel costs of the recipient, however in 2021 these funds have been put towards technology costs incurred with hybrid delivery of the event.

Alexei Likhtman Prizes

These were awarded for best early career research poster presentation. This year there were two prize winners:

First Prize -- Jordan Shivers 

Second Prize -- Tatiana Morozova 

Royal Society of Chemistry Poster Prizes

Awarded for best three posters from the poster exhibition. These prizes are not ranked and in alphabetical order the winners were - Merin Joseph, Yankai Li and Valerio Sorichitti.


The Edwards Symposia was 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.


Registrations for this event have now closed.



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