Zhen-Gang Wang

Lawrence A. Hanson Jr. Professor of Chemical Engineering
B.Sc., Beijing University, 1982; Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1987. Assistant Professor, Caltech, 1991-97; Associate Professor, 1997-2002; Professor, 2002-.

Assistant: Kathy Bubash

Modern Chemical Engineering has become an increasingly molecular-based discipline. Statistical mechanics, which provides the bridge between the molecular constitution and interaction on the one hand and the macroscopic properties and behaviors on the other, is therefore playing an ever more important role in chemical engineering.

In the Wang group, we use statistical mechanics to study a host of problems in the interdisciplinary areas of physical chemistry, material science and biophysics. Current research projects include nucleation phenomena in the phase transformation of complex fluids, dynamics of topologically constrained polymers, structure and dynamics of physical gels, charge solvation effects on the thermodynamics of polymer blends and block copolymers, viral DNA/RNA packaging, and membrane biophysics.

A central goal of our work is to understand and predict properties based on the molecular characteristics of matter and systems. We strive to obtain simple insight to seemingly complex problems. In this regard, we are very much guided by the following quotation from J. W. Gibbs: "One of the principal objects of theoretical research... is to find the point of view from which the subject appears in its greatest simplicity." In line with this philosophy, we build coarse-grained models that capture the most essential features of the problems at hand without undue microscopic details, which are solved with a combination of modern analytical and numerical methods of statistical mechanics, including density functional theory, self-consistent field method, field-theoretical techniques, Monte Carlo simulation and Brownian Dynamics simulation.

 

Selected Awards: 
Richard P. Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching (CALTECH) (2008); Fellow, American Physical Society (2001); Alfred P.Sloan Award (1996); Richard M. Badger Teaching Prize (Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, CALTECH) (1995); Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (1995); Visiting Research Fellow, The Institute for Advanced Studies, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel (1993); Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty Award (1991).
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