Robert Wickham

Robert Wickham

Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator, Associate Chair (Graduate)

Contact Information

Telephone: 519-824-4120 x53704


Office: MacN 448

Online: Research Page


I obtained my Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Chicago in 1997.

Professional Experience

I worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Florida from 1997-1999, then as a Postdoctoral Researcher at McMaster University, and a Visiting Scientist at the Xerox Research Centre of Canada, from 1999-2003. In 2003 I joined the Department of Physics at St. Francis Xavier University as an Assistant Professor. In January 2008 I moved to the Department of Physics at the University of Guelph. In January 2010 I became an Associate Professor.

Professional Activities & Awards

I am a currently (2014-2015) a member of the Brockhouse Medal Award Selection Committee of the Canadian Association of Physicists.  In Summer 2013, I held the W. F. James Chair of Pure and Applied Physics at St. Francis Xavier University. From 2010-2012 I was on the SHARCNET Board of Directors. I also served (2007-2009) as the Associate Editor for Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics for the Canadian Journal of Physics.

I received a CFI Leaders Opportunity Fund award (2008) to setup a 270-core computer cluster at Guelph.

Research Activities

My interests lie in theoretical soft materials physics and biophysics. My current research focuses on two fundamental aspects of polymeric materials: the formation of nanostructures in polymeric materials via self-assembly, and the interplay between these structures and the dynamical evolution of the polymeric material. Self-assembled macromolecular aggregates find applications as, for example, nanolithographic templates, paints, adhesives and drug delivery vehicles, and also form important structural elements in cells. The study of the structure, dynamics and response of biological assemblies is also a research theme in my group. We use a combination of sophisticated analytical theory and high-performance computation to model the behaviour of these systems.

Some current areas of interest include:

  1. Kinetics of order-order and order-disorder transitions in block copolymers
  2. Development of accurate field theories for polymer and particle dynamics
  3. Modelling bacteria twitching motility on surface
  4. Theory for the structure of the bacterial lipid membrane in the presence of antimicrobial peptides