• United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

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Personal profile

Personal Statement

I am currently the Deputy Head of Department, a role which involves strategy development and acting for the Head of Department in all academic and teaching matters, including undergraduate and masters course development, awards and appeals matters. 

My research interests are in the mathematical modelling of real-world systems, generally focussing on those that include the dynamics of non-Newtonian fluids. I am particularly interested in anisotropic fluids such as liquid crystals, where viscoelasticity is an important consideration, as is their behaviour under electric fields. I also have projects in the areas of medical and biological systems. Current projects also include investigations of active fluids, such as bacterium or micro-organism organisation within fluid flows, and biological flow systems. 

In a wider context I am a member of the British Liquid Crystal Society, the Edinburgh Mathematical Society, the British Rheology Society and a Fellow of the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications, as well as an active participant in the European Consortium for Mathematics in Industry. 

I am interested in mathematics applied to real-world problems in a general sense and I welcome enquiries from anyone interested to understand more about mathematical modelling.

I currently have PhD, MRes and MPhil projects available and prospective applicants should email me at nigel.mottram@strath.ac.uk.

Research Interests

Continuum theory of anisotropic materials

  • Anisotropy in the natural environment: swimming/self-organised organisms, tissue growth, mixing 
  • Order parameter changes in nematic liquid crystals: defects, field induced changes, tensor theory.
  • Theories of biaxial nematic liquid crytals
  • Surface effects: induced order, bistabilty in anisotropic fluids.
  • Disclination line motion: annihilation, formation, effects of electric field and surface interactions.
  • Thin films: flow in thin films of anisotropic fluids, painting and spin-coating.
  • Use of fractional calculus to represent memory in dynamical systems.
  • Physiologically-based Pharmacokinetics and dynamics
  • Blood flow: non-newtonian models of blood flow in microfluidic devices.
  • Oxygen transfer: novel medical device modelling for artificial livers.


  • I collaborate with scientists from many different disciplines and many countries around the world
  • My industrial collaborations currently include GSK, Merck, Kirkstall, MoD and past collaborators include HP, Sharp, Dow Corning. 

Teaching Interests

Current PhD students

  • Areej Abdullah Almuneef
  • Zuhur Moraya Alqahtani
  • Josh Walton
  • Pretheepan Radhakrishnan
  • Joseph Cousins

Current teaching

  • MM512: Optimisation: Theory and Practice
  • EO101: Mathematical Tools (online distance learning class)
  • MM116: Engineering Mathematics
  • CPD: Ordinary Differential Equations for NERC PhD students

Previous teaching:

  • MM405: Fluids and Waves
  • MA409: Calculus of Variations
  • MM311: Mathematics for Physicists
  • MM202: Advanced Calculus
  • MM201: Linear Algebra and Differential Equations
  • ME209: Mathematical Modelling & Analysis for Mechanical Engineers
  • MM101: Introduction to Calculus
  • MM112/113: Engineering Mathematics



Academic / Professional qualifications

  • 1989-1992: BA in Mathematics at the University of Oxford (Keble College).
  • 1992-1996: PhD in the Department of Engineering Mathematics at the University of Bristol. Boundary effects in nematic liquid crystal cells, supervised by Prof. S. J. Hogan (external link)
  • 1995-1997: Post Doctoral Research Assistant in the Department of Engineering Mathematics at the University of Bristol. Working on nematic liquid crystal theory with Prof. Hogan.
  • 1997-1999: Post Doctoral Research Assistant in the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford. Working on smectic liquid crystal theory with Dr S. J. Elston (external link).
  • 1999-2004: Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Strathclyde.
  • 2001-2006: EPSRC Advanced Research Fellow
  • 2004-2007: Reader in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Strathclyde.
  • 2007-present: Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Strathclyde.


  • liquid crystals
  • anisotropic material science
  • mathematical modelling
  • self-organisation
  • environmental modelling

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

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Projects 2006 2020

Industrial Case Account 2016 | Cousins, Joseph

Wilson, S., Mottram, N. & Cousins, J.

EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)


Project: Research Studentship Case - Internally allocatedResearch Studentship CASE (Internally Allocated)

Research Output 2001 2018

Nematic liquid crystal director structures in rectangular regions

Walton, J., Mottram, N. J. & McKay, G. 16 Feb 2018 In : Physical Review E. 97, 2, 12 p., 022702

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Crystal Structure
Nematic Liquid Crystal
liquid crystals
Point Defects

Electro-manipulation of droplets for microfluidic applications

Corson, L. T., Tsakonas, C., Duffy, B. R., Mottram, N. J., Brown, C. V. & Wilson, S. K. 5 Sep 2017 Progress in Industrial Mathematics at ECMI 2014. Russo, G., Capasso, V., Nicosia, G. & Romano, V. (eds.). Springer, Vol. 22, p. 1073-1080 7 p. (Mathematics in Industry; vol. 22)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Open Access


Theoretical studies of smectic liquid crystals in the presence of flow, oscillatory perturbations, and edge dislocations

Author: Snow, B. C., 1 Oct 2015

Supervisor: Mottram, N. (Supervisor) & Stewart, I. W. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


200 Young Scientist Award

Nigel Mottram (Recipient), 2000

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

liquid crystals

2017 Hilsum Medal

Nigel Mottram (Recipient), 2017

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

liquid crystals

Activities 2008 2016

BLCS Winter Workshop

Mottram, N. (Participant)
6 Jan 2016

Activity: Participation in workshop, seminar, course