Professor Julia Yeomans FRS has been awarded the Institute of Physics’ Sam Edwards Medal and Prize 2021 in recognition of her personal contribution to the advancement of physics as a discipline and a profession. The Sam Edwards Medal recognises her work in developing mathematical models and numerical algorithms to increase our understanding of soft and active matter, statistical physics and biophysics.
Professor Yeomans’ early successes came in designing and exploiting mesoscale simulation approaches to the self-assembly and hydrodynamics of complex fluids; these algorithmic advances have been extended to give new understanding of phase ordering, droplet dynamics and liquid crystal hydrodynamics. She has used the algorithms to develop original models and ideas that have immensely facilitated our understanding of complex fluids.
She was one of the first to enter the rapidly expanding field of living fluids, where her work has been instrumental in describing chaotic flows of active fluids. Moreover, she has furthered the field of mechanobiology, opening a new door into interdisciplinary research on the mechanics of cellular layers. Her work to identify active topological defects in confluent cell layers, providing the first evidence of a mechanical trigger for apoptosis, has led to an explosion of interest in the roles of topological defects and the applicability of liquid crystal physics to biological systems.
‘Thank you to all the wonderful students and post-docs who have contributed to this work and helped to make our research endeavours so enjoyable,’ comments Professor Yeomans.
‘Julia is a world leader in her field and this recognition by the IOP is richly deserved,’ comments Professor Ian Shipsey, head of the Department of Physics. ‘She heads up theoretical physics at Oxford – the Rudolf Peierls Centre for Theoretical Physics – and is an inspirational educator as well as a remarkable scientist.’
Professor Yeomans has lectured at eight Gordon Conferences on six different topics and chaired the 2019 GRC on Active and Adaptive Material Systems. She is a recipient of an Oxford University teaching prize, a popular College tutor and is heavily committed to public engagement.