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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 delegates joining in person and others 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 and energy materials

  • 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.

Bursaries are available for early career researchers at the discretion of the academic organisers. Please register your interest via the registration form. Deadline for submitting funding assistance is Friday 30th July. This bursary will cover the registration fee and two nights accommodation. 

We have kept the registration fees low at £75 for academics and £100 for non-academics. This will be the same for physical and virtual attendees and allows for the significant additional cost for running the event in a hybrid format.
Physical attendees who wish to attend the conference dinner will need to pay an additional charge.
Deadline for physical attendance for Friday 27th August. Deadline for registrations is for virtual attendance Friday 3rd September.

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


Bursary funding application - Friday 30th July
Poster submissions - TBC
Elevator pitch submissions - TBC
Physical registration - Friday 27th August
Virtual registration - Friday 3rd September


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