Biographical Sketch of David Chandler


David Chandler, Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, was born in New York in 1944. He received his S.B. degree in Chemistry from MIT in 1966, and his Ph.D. in Chemical Physics at Harvard in 1969. He met his wife, Elaine, while they were both MIT undergraduates. They raised two daughters, Phoebe and Cynthia. Elaine Chandler is a theoretical physicist. She worked for many years at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where she rose through its ranks to lead basic research on the physics of materials for Science Based Stockpile Stewardship. In 2005, she moved to a new post at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

David Chandler began his academic career as an Assistant Professor in 1970 at the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University of Illinois. He rose through the ranks, becoming a full Professor in 1977. Prior to joining the Berkeley faculty in 1986, Chandler spent two years as Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania.

Chandler's general area of research is statistical mechanics - the general physical theory with which chaotic and complex systems are described. David Chandler has applied this discipline in a number of ways leading to an understanding of the microscopic structure and dynamics of liquid matter. Early in his career, he collaborated with Hans Andersen and John Weeks in developing a quantitative description of liquid structure and thermodynamics in terms of molecular packing. This work, known as the WCA theory, is generally regarded as the basic equilibrium theory of the liquid state. To apply it to complex fluids, Chandler developed the reference interaction site model (RISM). This model describes packing of irregular shaped molecules in liquids. Chandler used it to provide the first successful predictions and explanations of the structures of polyatomic fluids. Currently, the most important applications of the model are in the description of polymeric liquids.

With his Illinois student, Lawrence Pratt, Chandler developed the molecular theory of hydrophobicity – the nature of liquid water organization in the vicinity of oily species. Hydrophobicity is believed to play a central role in the formation of biological structures because the microscopic segregation of oily and aqueous components is a most common facet of lipid and protein assemblies. At Berkeley, Chandler has returned to this topic, but with emphasis on extended hydrophobic surfaces. Such surfaces can induce phase transitions and powerful inter-surface interactions over length scales that are very large compared to typical microscopic distances.

In the mid 1970's, David Chandler produced a series of papers introducing the statistical mechanical techniques for analyzing chemical equilibrium and chemical dynamics in liquids. During his year-long stay at Columbia University in 1977-78, he collaborated with Chemistry Professor Bruce Berne in carrying out the first computer simulations of such processes. Shortly thereafter, with his Illinois colleague, Peter Wolynes, Chandler developed the quantum mechanical versions of these methods, which he then used to understand the behavior of electrons in liquids.

At Berkeley, working with Peter Bolhuis, Christoph Dellago and Phillip Geissler, Professor Chandler developed the statistical mechanical treatment of trajectory space that generalizes standard statistical mechanics to systems driven arbitrarily far from equilibrium. In one application of this development known as transition path sampling, Chandler and his coworkers unraveled the mechanism of auto ionization in water, the fundamental kinetic step of pH. Other topics of study in Chandler's current research are the theory of self assembly in liquids and dynamical arrest in glass formers.

In recognition of his research accomplishments, David Chandler has received a number of awards from various scientific societies and institutions, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Foreign Member of the Royal Society. His popular textbook, Introduction to Modern Statistical Mechanics, is highly regarded by students and specialists for its novelty and pedagogy.