Soft and biological materials

I use computer simulation and theory to study soft matter, where constituent particles are relatively large and/or the interaction forces are relatively weak. Examples include liquid crystals, biological membranes, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, paints, milk, radioactive waste… .

Tissue growth mechanics: I’ve recently started at the Crick Institute, London, where my current project is on the mechanics of tissue growth.

Membrane biophysics: I worked at Georgetown University with Peter Olmsted, looking at the phase behaviour of lipid membranes, and am an associate member of the EPSRC CAPITALS project. This paper and follow-ups introduce the rich phase diagrams and kinetics governing domain formation in the coupled leaflets of a bilayer. We are currently pursuing collaborative work to study the phenomena in molecular simulations and experiment, with Philip Fowler (Oxford) and Simon Connell (Leeds).

Colloid polydispersityColloidal phase transitions and polydispersity: My PhD research with Mike Evans focused on colloids, particularly kinetics in polydisperse systems. Our latest paper develops measurement techniques for the complex phase behaviour of these systems, which are essentially “infinite mixtures” of many different-sized, shaped, or charged particles. We have also studied the effect of metastable states on crystal growth, providing the first particle-simulation of the fascinating “boiled-egg” mechanism.

Philosophy of science (undergraduate)

A third of my undergraduate degree was philosophy; this is responsible for a disappointing ignorance of astrophysics, in which I took exactly no modules. It was very worthwhile, however — philosophy (and philosophy of science) has a lot to teach scientists, and I hope to return to it more seriously in the future.


  • The CAPITALS programme grant, in which I began my work on membranes
  • Homepage of Peter Olmsted who was my boss at Georgetown
  • Utrecht’s Soft Condensed Matter Group, includes world leading colloidal research
  • Homepage of my PhD supervisor Mike Evans, theoretical physicist who is also active in the public understanding of science
  • Philip Fowler, collaborator at Oxford simulating lipid membranes and proteins, MARTINI expert
  • Martin Haase‘s homepage, work including arrested emulsions, and a great website
  • John Royer, NIST researcher (in collaboration with Georgetown) performing experiments on colloidal cubes, also on granular matter
  • Pasha Tabatabai, PhD student in Dan Blair’s group at Georgetown, works on silk and gel formation.

3 thoughts on “Research”

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