John C. Crocker
Professor and Graduate Group Chair


Tel: 215-898-9188

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John C. Crocker is Professor and Graduate Group Chair in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. John earned his PhD in Physics from the University of Chicago in 1996, and joined CBE in 2001 after a postdoc in Penn Physics and a brief faculty position at Caltech in Applied Physics. John’s research is multidisciplinary, and he has made pioneering contributions to the fields of soft matter and biophysics, in particular the use of optical trapping and microrheology methods, and the use of DNA for forming colloidal crystals. Open-source software tools he co-developed for particle tracking are in use by hundreds of research labs around the world. He was awarded a Packard Fellowship in 2002 and a ‘Brilliant 10’ award in 2005. His professional service has largely been to the Colloid and Surface Chemistry Division of the ACS and the Division of Soft Matter (DSOFT) at the APS, who named him a Fellow in 2018.


Research Interests
The Crocker research group studies soft matter and biophysics, using integrated experimental and computational approaches, often with a focus on classic complex systems that have defied simple explanation. The lab uses DNA nanotechnology to direct the formation of unique colloidal crystals, and confocal microscopy to understand their complex nucleation, growth and transformations. Experimental efforts focus on using particle tracking and novel microrheology methods to understand the mechanics of the cell cytoskeleton and soft materials such as foams and complex fluid interfaces. The group has achieved a deeper understanding of the physical origin of soft glassy rheology using an energy landscape approach called fractal landscape dynamics. Our most recent effort seeks to understand the thermodynamics of glassy materials and the glass transition using a similar, potential energy landscape based approach.


Research Areas
Soft Matter and Complex Fluids; Cellular and Biomolecular Engineering; Molecular Simulation and Thermodynamics


Educational Background
Ph.D.: University of Chicago (1996)
M.A.: University of Chicago (1992)
B.A.: University of Chicago (1990)


2018 Fellow, American Physical Society
2005 Brilliant 10, Popular Science Magazine
2002 Packard Fellow, David and Lucile Packard Foundation


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