About the group

We are an experimental soft condensed matter physics group and our members have a wide variety of interests including membrane biophysics, and novel liquid crystal materials and composites.

Our group is a member of the physics graduate group at The University of California Merced in the School of Natural Sciences. We are always seeking good students and postdocs, please contact Prof. Hirst to see if a position is available.

Prof Hirst’s research attempts to uncover the principles behind self-organization in different soft materials. This  knowledge can be applied to understanding biological systems and to create new, multifunctional soft materials.

The group uses a wide variety of experimental techniques, although there is significant focus on x-ray diffraction and scattering (both synchrotron and in-house), microscopy/imaging (Confocal microscopy, Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM)). Current research projects include:

  • Liquid crystal/nanoparticle composite materials
  • Lipid membrane structure and phase behavior
  • Biopolymer Networks
  • Molecular packing and defects at curved interfaces


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