Professor Michael Allen
I retired in September 2014, becoming a Visiting Fellow at Bristol University, Department of Physics, while also holding an Emeritus Professor position here at Warwick.
In 2015 I was awarded the Lennard-Jones Prize and Lectureship by the Royal Society of Chemistry Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics Group. The Lecture was delivered at the Thermodynamics 2015 Conference in Copenhagen, 15-18 September 2015.
I am currently Chair of the Institute of Physics Liquids and Complex Fluids Group. I am on the organising committee of the European Conference on Liquid Crystals, 2015 and the Conference on The Physics of Soft and Biological Matter, 2016.
For three months in 2015, I was a visitor at Johannes Gutenberg University and the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz, as part of the TRR 146 programme on Multiscale Simulation Methods for Soft Matter Systems.
I am still research active, even in retirement! My interests lie in computer simulations of condensed matter systems at the molecular level, with most activity focused on liquids and liquid crystals. Here is a videolecture taken at a conference in 2010 describing some of this work.
Recent research, with my student Anja Humpert, has looked at the time dependence of nematic liquid crystal director fluctuations at small wave-vector k. We show that the director bend fluctuation is a propagating mode, under suitable conditions. This is in contrast to the generally-accepted picture, which has been around for 40 years, in which the director modes are always believed to be overdamped. This work has appeared in Physical Review Letters and is also available in the WRAP archive. A sketch of the bend mode, and the velocity field to which it couples, is shown below.
In 2011/2012 I was Chair of the Physics Department Teaching Committee. I have been an external examiner for Physics undergraduate programmes at the Universities of Leeds (2006 – 2010) and Bath (2011 – 2015). In recent years I taught several modules in Physics, listed below, as well as supervising final year BSc and MPhys projects and holding tutorials for first- and second-year Maths-Physics students.
- PX261 Mathematical Methods for Physicists II
- PX366 Statistical Physics
- PX428 MPhys Laboratory (simulation experiments)
- PX442 Laboratory for Maths-Physics Students (simulation experiments)
- PX148 Classical Mechanics and Special Relativity
- NM1 Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics (a postgraduate module)
In the last few years, I employed a new delivery method for my lectures using the Livescribe Pulse Pen, which records what I say and what I write, for later playback by students. The intention was to improve the student experience in mathematically-heavy modules, especially when they come to revise the material. Student feedback was very positive.
Inspired by my cheesy pun "How do you solve a problem like Fourier" in the Maths Methods module, two of our students, Benjamin T. Milnes and Angharad le Duc, wrote the lyrics and performed this wonderful song on the subject!
I was a member of the EPSRC Peer Review College for 20 years (1994-2000 as a member of the Physics College, 2000-2014 as a member of the consolidated College), but I resigned and am unavailable to referee proposals in the future. I am a frequent journal article referee for the American Physical Society (Physical Review E, Physical Review Letters etc), the American Institute of Physics (Journal of Chemical Physics) and the Royal Society of Chemistry (Soft Matter, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics).