Robert Wickham

Dr. Robert Wickham
Associate Professor, Associate Graduate Coordinator
Phone number: 
519-824-4120 x53704
MacN 448

Education and Employment Background 

Dr. Robert Wickham received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1997. Between 1997 and 1999 he held a position as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Florida. From 1999 to 2003, he worked as a visiting scientist at Xerox Research Centre of Canada and as a Research Associate at McMaster University. Wickham held a position as an Assistant Professor of Physics at St. Francis Xavier University from 2003 to 2008. Wickham joined the Department of Physics at the University of Guelph in 2008 where he is now an Associate Professor and Deputy Graduate Coordinator.

Research Themes 

Wickham’s research is focused on theoretical soft materials physics. He explores two fundamental aspects of polymeric materials: the formation of nanostructures in polymeric and biological 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. To tackle the challenge of modeling these complex many-body systems, his group uses a combination of sophisticated analytical theory and high-performance computation. Key areas of interest include:

  1. Influence of confinement on the self-assembly of nanostructures in block copolymers.
  2. Kinetics of order-order transitions in block copolymers.
  3. Development of accurate field theories for polymer dynamics.
  4. Modelling the mechanical response of peptidoglycan networks in bacteria.
  5. Modelling the structure of aggregates of pore-forming, antimicrobial peptides, and developing theories of peptide-cell membrane interactions.


Major funding, Awards, National or International Recognition, Prestigious affiliations, Memberships on editorial boards or societies

  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant, 2010, 2016
  • SHARCNET Resource Allocation Committee, Guelph, Canada, 2017

Media Coverage

Research accolades:

Selected Publications

  1. Douglas J. Grzetic and Robert A. Wickham, Dynamical self-consistent field theory captures multi-scale physics during spinodal decomposition in a symmetric binary homopolymer blend, J. Chem. Phys. 152, 104903 (2020).
  2. Russell K. W. Spencer, Paul F. Curry, and Robert A. Wickham, Nucleation of the BCC phase from disorder in a diblock copolymer melt: Testing approximate theories through simulation, J. Chem. Phys. 145, 144902 (2016).
    Selected as a 2016 Editor's Choice article. 
  3. Shun Lu, Maximiliano Giuliani, Hanjeong Harvey, Lori Burrows, Robert A. Wickham and John R. Dutcher, Nanoscale pulling of type IV pili of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 reveals their flexibility and adhesion to surfaces over extended lengths of the pili, Biophys. J. 108, 2865 - 2875 (2015).
  4. Douglas Grzetic, Robert A. Wickham and An-Chang Shi, Statistical dynamics of classical systems: A self-consistent field approach, J. Chem. Phys. 140, 244907 (2014).
  5. Russell K. W. Spencer and Robert A. Wickham, Simulation of nucleation dynamics at the cylinder-to-lamellar transition in a diblock copolymer melt, Soft Matter 9, 3373 (2013).