Skinner Group: James Skinner

Crown Family Professor of Molecular Engineering, Director of the Water Research Initiative and Deputy Director for Faculty Affairs

Skinner Group


  • Phone
  • Address

    Eckhardt Research Center
    Room 205
    5640 South Ellis Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60637

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  • Assistant
    Heather Crews


Skinner's research deals with the structure and dynamics of condensed phase systems, and in particular, in the theory of time-dependent phenomena in liquids, supercritical fluids, crystalline and amorphous solids, on surfaces, and in proteins. The group typically uses the methods of classical and quantum non-equilibrium statistical mechanics to investigate these phenomena.  Recent work has focused on theoretical and computational studies of the structure, dynamics, and vibrational spectroscopy of water, in its condensed phases and at interfaces.


James Skinner attended the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he was a double major in physics and chemistry (highest honors in each major).  He then entered Harvard University, where he studied with Professor Peter Wolynes, received an NSF graduate fellowship, and graduated with his Ph.D. in chemical physics in 1979.   His postdoctoral work at Stanford was under the direction of Hans Andersen, and was supported by an NSF postdoctoral fellowship.  In 1981 Skinner joined the faculty of Columbia University, becoming Professor of Chemistry in 1986.  In 1990 he moved to the University of Wisconsin, as the Joseph O. Hirschfelder Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Theoretical Chemistry Institute.  In 2017 Skinner moved to his current position as Crown Family Professor of Molecular Engineering in the Institute for Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago.

Skinner has been the recipient of a number of awards for both scholarship and teaching, including the University of Wisconsin Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award (2003), Fellowship in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2006), American Chemical Society Division of Physical Chemistry Award in Theoretical Chemistry (2011), American Chemical Society Irving J. Langmuir Award in Chemical Physics (2012), Member of the National Academy of Sciences (2012), and University of Wisconsin Hilldale Award in the Physical Sciences (2015).  He has coauthored over 220 scientific publications, has given over 330 invited lectures, and has served as advisor to 32 graduate students and 14 postdocs.  Skinner's research interests are in the theoretical chemistry of condensed phases.

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