PI: James W. Swan

Dr. James W. Swan is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT. He focuses on how microstructured, in particular nano-particle, materials can be manipulated for the benefit of society. His research on soft matter is broad and has included accurate measurement of biophysical forces and the self-assembly nano-particles in microgravity. Dr. Swan aims to combine theory and simulation to model the fluid mechanics and out-of-equilibrium statistical physics that are fundamental to complex fluids and other soft matter. His research has industrial sponsors (Shell, Genentech, Saudi Aramco) as well as sponsorship through the federal government (NSF). He earned NSF Career and an ACS PRF Doctoroal New Investigator awards in 2016.

James Swan received a BS in Chemical Engineering in 2004 from the University of Arizona where he worked with Drs. James Baygents and Raymond Goldstein on issues related to spatio-temporal pattern formation in diffusing and reacting systems. He earned a Masters degree in 2007 and a Ph. D. in 2010 in Chemical Engineering from the California Institue of Technology. His thesis work, under the supervision of Dr. John Brady, focused on low Reynolds number fluid mechanics and the role of macroscopic boundaries in hindering the dynamics of suspended micro-scale objects. This work led to important conclusions about the flow of complex fluids in confinement. Following this, he worked in the laboratory of Dr. Eric Furst at the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware directing experimental investigations of nano-particle self-assembly performed on the International Space Station by astronauts Sunita Williams, Kevin Ford and Chris Hadfield. He has been an assistant professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT since September 2013.

Dr. Swan's CV is available here.


Postdocs with experience modeling proteins via molecular dynamics or a strong background in statistical physics, colloid science or fluid mechanics are encouraged to apply for an open position. Please send a written request and CV to jswan (at) mit (dot) edu.

Graduate students

Kelsey Reed

Kelsey is a PhD student in Chemical Engineering and joined the group in Spring 2019. She received her BS in Chemical Engineering from Columbia University in 2018 where she worked with Professor V. Faye McNeill on the modeling of atmospheric aerosol chemistry in highly polluted cities such as Beijing. In the Swan group, Kelsey uses theory and simulations to study the self-assembly of nano emulsions in external fields. She is interested in understanding how the large scale material properties of these systems are affected by changes in the underlying microstructure. Better understanding of this could aid in the design of new materials with specific mechanical properties.

Kyle Lennon

Kyle graduated from the University of Delaware in 2018 with a BChE in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and a BA in Physics. At UD, he worked with Prof. Juejun Hu to simulate the performance of microresonators for on-chip optical isolation. In his junior year he began working with Prof. Matthew Doty, where he conducted photoluminescence experiments and developed software to investigate the quantum yield of upconverting colloidal quantum dot nanoparticles. Kyle is currently working to develop a general framework describing the weak nonlinearities in the relationship between stress and strain in viscoelastic materials. He plans to use this framework to design efficient and highly informative experimental protocols for rheological testing, and to deploy data-driven solutions to problems such as material classification and fault diagnosis.

Emily Krucker

Emily graduated from University of Guadalajara with a Bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering in 2017. During her studies, she worked with Prof. Roberto Flores-Moreno parallelizing programs for efficient DFT calculations. Emily worked as a Research Engineer at Interlub Group, where she focused on the rheology of complex fluids and designing and optimizing their industrial process. She has also studied the behavior of stiff polymers under shear flow using experimental and computational methods with Prof Alexander-Katz to better understand their rheological properties. In 2019 she joined the Swan Group and is currently studying the dynamics of electromagnetic driven phenomena in colloidal systems.

Kevin Silmore

Kevin graduated from Princeton University in 2016 with a BSE in Chemical and Biological Engineering and certificates in Applications of Computing and Materials Science and Engineering. As an undergraduate, he worked with Prof. Athanassios Panagiotopoulos on the universal scaling of surface tension of long chain molecules and contributed to HOOMD-blue, an open-source molecular dynamics package. His junior year, he also worked with Prof. Newell Washburn at Carnegie Mellon University on the properties of Pickering emulsions formed from polymer-grafted lignin nanoparticles. Kevin is interested in studying the dynamics and self-assembly of anisotropic colloidal particles. A better understanding of such processes could help inform the design of advanced materials with tunable electronic, optical, or mechanical properties and greatly expand the accessible experimental design space. Kevin is co-advised by Prof. Michael Strano and aims to effectively combine experiment and theory.

Samuel Winslow

Sam joined the group in Spring 2016 as a PhD student in Chemical Engineering. He graduated with Honors, earning a dual-degree in Chemical Engineering and Engineering & Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University in 2015 where he worked with Professors Aditya Khair and Robert Tilton on modeling the adsorption kinetics of surfactant at an oil/water interface. Sam spent his junior year abroad at Imperial College, London. In the Swan Group, Sam’s primary interest is combining experimental and simulation tools to understand, characterize, and ultimately tune the structure of quantum dot (QD) ligand passivating layers for stable superlattices of desired optical properties. His current work focuses on probing the single QD and ensemble solution structure with neutron scattering. Separately, Sam is also studying the ability to control and predict superlattice structure when adding unbound ligands to a solution of QDs or when inducing superlattice distortion through temperature modulation. Sam is co-advised by Professor William Tisdale in Chemical Engineering.

In the fall of 2019 Dr. Swan will hire two graduate student to work on exciting research projects with broad social and scientific impact at the interface of colloid science, biophysics and engineering.

Undergraduate students

Julia Pallone

Undergraduate Research Opportunities are always available in the Swan group. Interested undergraduate students should contact Dr. Swan, jswan (at) mit (dot) edu.


Gerald Wang

Postdoctoral scholar 2018-2019. Present position: Assistant professor, Carnegie Mellon University, Civil Engineering

Sumedh Risbud

Postdoctoral scholar 2014-2015. Present position: Intel Corporation

Andrew Fiore

Ph.D. 2019, thesis: Fast Simulation Methods for Soft Matter Hydrodynamics. Present position: Consultant at Veryst

Zachary Sherman

Ph.D. 2019, thesis: Self-Assembly and Dynamics of Colloidal Dispersions in Steady and Time-Varying External Fields. Present position: Postdoctoral scholar U.T. Austin, Chemical Engineering

Gang Wang

Ph.D. 2018, thesis: Rheology of Concentrated Protein Solutions and Attractive Colloidal Dispersions. Present position: Data scientist at Linde Digital/Praxair

Zsigmond Varga

Ph.D. 2018, thesis: Improved Models of Colloidal Gels: Kinetic Arrest, Relaxation Dynamics, Structural Breakdown and the Role of Hydrodynamic Interactions. Present position: Process Development Engineer at ExxonMobil

Qing Xu

M.S. 2016, thesis: Temperature-Responsive Polymers in Flocculation and Dewatering. Present position: Technical Support Consultant at Aspen Technology

Helen Rosenthal

Kenneth Luo

Jennifer Hofmann

Present position: Graduate student, Stanford University, Chemical Engineering

Dipanjan Ghosh

Present position: Graduate student, University of Minnesota, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science

Stephon Henry-Rerrie