Sheldon Opps

BSc, MSc, PhD
(902) 566-0421
School of Sustainable Design Engineering Building, 317
BSc (Guelph)
MSc (Toronto)
PhD (Guelph)

Dr. Sheldon Opps is a theoretical physicist who uses analytical and computational tools to investigate the properties of polymeric systems, including polypeptides, liquid crystals, and bilayer membranes. He has also adopted these tools to study the effects of habitat fragmentation on animal movement patterns in Prince Edward Island.

Dr. Opps' current courses include...

Sheldon Opps' Curriculum Vitae 

Dr. Opps' main research program focuses on the properties of complex fluids (including water) or what is termed “soft condensed matter”. Soft-condensed matter refers to materials which are “squishy”, such as glue, oil, soap, silly-putty, etc. Recently, he has been investigating the following phenomenon in polymeric systems: equilibrium and non-equilibrium properties of Langmuir monolayers, coil-globule transitions for isolated polymers in solvent, helix- coil transitions for simple peptide chains, and isotropic to nematic transitions in liquid crystal films. Polymers are composed of a series of “beads” which are linked together to form a flexible chain (a cartoon depiction of a caterpillar comes to mind). These polymeric systems have practical applications in thin-film technology and copier/reproduction technologies. They also have environmental applications, such as employing biofilms in soil remediation processes (which links well with UPEI’s expertise in ecotoxicology). Additionally, this research has vital biomedical implications. For example, since Langmuir monolayers are model systems for more complex biological membranes, the studies on hole formation are relevant for understanding processes such as membrane rupture or cell lysis. These studies are also important in understanding the function of lung surfactant monolayers during the compression-expansion cycle of breathing where, as noted in Ref. [32], the system changes from a two to three-dimensional structure. Such investigations could shed light into the mechanisms responsible for Respiratory Distress Syndrome, which occurs in pre-mature infants where there is insufficient surfactant lining the alveoli in the lungs.

The research on polypeptides, which are the building blocks of proteins, is also at a fundamental level of study. By understanding the mechanisms by which a protein “folds” from the random coil to the native helical structure, one may gain insight as to why certain proteins, such as prions, mis-fold. It is this mis-folding that is responsible for diseases such as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (Mad-cow disease), which is being researched at the Atlantic Veterinarian College (AVC), and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).

Additionally, he has recently been performing theoretical studies on the movement patterns of animals in fragmented landscapes. This area of research still falls under the general category of statistical physics, although at certain conferences may be classified as simply theoretical physics.


  • S. B. Opps, “Phase behaviour of model Langmuir monolayers”, Ph.D. thesis, Dept. of Physics, University of Guelph (2000).
  • S. B. Opps, “A generalized model of sensory receptor function”, M.Sc. thesis, Dept. of Physics, University of Toronto (1994).

Articles in refereed publications

  • L.H. de la Peña, R. van Zon, J. Schofield, S. B. Opps, Discontinuous molecular dynamics for semi-flexible and rigid bodies, J. Chem. Phys. 126 074105 (2007). Funding: (NSERC).
  • L.H. de la Peña, R. van Zon, J. Schofield, S. B. Opps, Discontinous molecular dynamics for rigid bodies: Applications, J. Chem. Phys. 126 074106 (2007). Funding: (NSERC).
  • S.B. Opps, N. Abou-Risk, and J.M. Polson, Discontinuous molecular dynamics simulation study of polymer collapse, J. Chem. Phys. 125 194904 (2006). Funding: (NSERC), Major Research Grant (MRG) –UPEI.
  • S.B. Opps, N. Saad, H.M. Srivastava, Some Reduction and Transformation Formulas for the Appell Hypergeometric Function F2, J. Math. Anal. Appl. 302 180-195 (2005). Funding: (NSERC).
  • M. Silva, L. Hartling, and S.B. Opps, Small mammals in agricultural landscapes of PEI: Effects of habitat characteristics at three different spatial scales, Biol. Conserv., 126, 556-568 (2005). Funding: (NSERC).
  • R. Diplock, D.E. Sullivan, K.M. Jaffer, and S.B. Opps, Nematic-isotropic phase transition in diblock fused-sphere chain fluids, Phys. Rev. E, 69, 046406 (4 pages) (2004). Funding: (NSERC).
  • Extended-state space Monte Carlo methods, S.B. Opps and J. Schofield, Phys. Rev. E, 63, 056701 (11 pages) (2001). Funding: (NSERC).
  • S.B. Opps, B. Yang, C.G. Gray and D.E. Sullivan, Monte Carlo studies of model Langmuir monolayers, Phys. Rev. E, 63, 041602 (12 pages) (2001). Funding: (NSERC).
  • K.M. Jaffer, S.B. Opps, D.E. Sullivan, B.G. Nickel, L. Mederos, The nematic-isotropic phase transition in semiflexible fused hard-sphere chain fluids, J. Chem. Phys., 114, 3314-3324 (2000). Funding: (NSERC).
  • S.B. Opps, B.G. Nickel, C.G. Gray, D.E. Sullivan, The ground-state phase behavior of model Langmuir monolayers. J. Chem. Phys., 113, 339-348 (2000). Funding: (NSERC).
  • K.M. Jaffer, S.B. Opps and D.E. Sullivan, The nematic-isotropic phase transition in linear fused hard-sphere chain fluids, J. Chem. Phys., 110: 11630-11642 (1999).
  • M. Silva, S.B. Opps, K. Johnson. Habitat selection and home-range size of red foxes in PEI. Submitted to the J. Wildl. Manage. (Jul 2006). Funding: (NSERC, Parks Canada), MRGPEI. ( i i i ) Articles in refereed conference proceedings
  • S.B. Opps and J. Schofield, Monte Carlo methods designed for parallel computation, 15th Ann. Symp. on High Performance Computing Systems, Kluwer Academic Press, 2003. Funding: (NSERC).

Non-refereed publications 

  • M. Silva, S.B. Opps, and K. Johnson, Home range, movement patterns, and habitat use of red foxes in PEI Nat. Park, Rep. Ecosys. Sci., Parks Canada, Atlantic Region, 85 pp. (2005). Funding: (Parks Canada).
  • M. Silva, S.B. Opps, and K. Johnson, Movement patterns of red foxes and coyotes on PEI Nat. Park, Rep. Ecosys. Sci., Parks Canada, Atlantic Region, 44 pp. (2004). Funding: (Parks Canada).

Professional Consulting Reports

  • M.K. Ince, M. Silva, and S.B. Opps SB, Environmental impact statement of the Phase II of the West Cape Wind Park, Prince Edward Island, 228 pp (+appendices) (2006). EIA Report. Funding: (Private).
  • M. Silva and S.B. Opps, Environmental impact statement of the Phase I of the West Cape Wind Park, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, 708 pp. EIA Report. Funding: (Private).
  • M. Silva, S.B. Opps Environmental impact statement of the Norway Wind Park. Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, 656 pp. (2005). EIA Report. (Funding: Private).

Research Presentations

  • Giant Folds: Collapse phenomena in Langmuir monolayers, Department of Physics, UNB, Fredericton, NB. Nov 17, 2006. Funding: (NSERC). 
  • Behaviour and Movement of Red Foxes in Fragmented Landscapes, Natural History Society of PEI, Farm Center, Charlottetown, PEI. Oct 3, 2006. Funding: (NSERC, Parks Canada) MRG-UPEI. 
  • Buckle Up: Collapse in Langmuir Monolayers, Statistical Physics Talk, Biomaterials Group, Canadian Neutron Beam Center, NRC, Chalk River. July 2006. Funding: (NSERC). 
  • Studies on the Coil-Globule Transition for a Polymer in an Explicit Solvent, Statistical Physics Talk, Chemical Physics Theory Group, University of Toronto. November 2005. Funding: (NSERC). 
  • Fun with Complex Animals, Physics Dept., St. F.X. University. Oct. 2005. Funding: (NSERC). 
  • Properties of Model Langmuir Monolayers, Physical Chemistry Talk, Chemistry Dept., U.of Toronto. October 2000. Funding: (NSERC). 
  • Discontinous Molecular Dynamics for Rigid Bodies: Applications, APS March Meeting, Denver, Colorado, USA, March 5 - 11 2007. Funding: (NSERC). 
  • Discontinous Molecular Dynamics Simulation of Polymer Collapse, S.B. Opps, CAP Congress, Brock University, St. Catherines, Ontario, June 2006. Funding: (NSERC). 
  • Alvin’s Movement in Complex Landscapes, S.B. Opps, M. Arthurs, and M. Silva, 18th Ann. Symposium of the International Association for Landscape Ecology – US Chapter, Banff, AB, April 2003. Funding: (NSERC) MRG-UPEI. 
  • Interesting Properties of Langmuir monolayers, S.B. Opps, J. Seifollah, J. Schofield, and D. Sullivan, Complex Fluids, Oaxaca, Mexico, July 2001. Funding: (NSERC). 
  • Monte Carlo methods designed for parallel computation, Sheldon Opps and Jeremy Schofield, 15th Ann. International Symposium on High Performance Computing Systems (HPCS'01), Windsor, ON, June 18-20, 2001. Funding: (NSERC).
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