Professor David Williams

Professor David Williams
Department of Applied Mathematics
Physics Education Centre
Office phone
Le Couteur 2 16


I was born in Sydney in 1964, and received my early education there. I lived for a few years in Lismore and Lithgow before returning to Sydney. I attended the local high school (Blakehurst High) and then went on to study science at the University of Sydney, beginning in 1983. I graduated in 1986 with a first class honours degree and the University Medal in Physics. My research at Sydney was in theoretical plasma physics, working with Don Melrose.

I then won an 1851 Exhibition Scholarship and went to Cambridge in October 1987, for my PhD. It was there that I changed fields entirely and began working on soft matter physics. I was associated with Trinity College, and did research work in the Cavendish Laboratory in the Theory of Condensed Matter group, headed by Sir Sam Edwards. I worked on problems of nematic polymer dynamics with Mark Warner. I completed my PhD in 1990 and then did postdoctoral work at the University of California in Santa Barbara, working with Phil Pincus, one of the founding fathers of soft matter physics in the U.S. . I spent two years in Santa Barbara where I worked on problems in polymer theory. It was there I was introduced to the subject of molecular beam epitaxy and surface growth by an experimentalist, the late Mohan Krishnamurthy. This has continued to be a secondary interest of mine. In 1992 I went to Paris to pursue further postdoctoral work with P.G. de Gennes, who had won the Nobel Prize in Physics for the previous year. I was a CNRS scientist at the College de France and worked on problems of grafted polymers and biophysics.

While in Paris I was awarded an ARC QEII fellowship, which I delayed taking up for a year to visit the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. While there I worked with Len Sander and Fred MacKintosh on problems of surface growth and diblock copolymers. After a brief stint at the Insititute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara I joined the Applied Maths Department at ANU. After receiving an ARC Senior Research Fellowship I obtained a tenure position at ANU. My current research interests are in soft condensed matter, mainly polymers and rotaxanes.

I have taught many courses at ANU. In the past these have included:

  1. Statistical Mechanics.
  2. Soft Condensed Matter.
  3. Physics Problem Solving.

Active Courses taught at presentn are:

  1. Classical Mechanics (Honours).
  2. Car Physics (Honours).

I am married to Prof. Edie Sevick in the Research School of Chemistry at ANU. We have two children and we have collaborated scientifically for many years.

Research interests

Soft matter physics. Polymers. Rotaxanes. Theory and simulation.

The physics of cars.

Technical expertise

Soft matter physics.

Liquid crystsls, polymers, gels.

Car  and Automotive Physics.

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Updated:  17 August 2017/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPE/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster