Christopher Jarzynski

University of Maryland, College Park


Primary Section: 33, Applied Physical Sciences
Secondary Section: 13, Physics
Membership Type: Member (elected 2020)

Biosketch

Christopher Jarzynski is a theoretical physicist and chemist who works primarily in the area of non-equilibrium statistical mechanics.  He was born in Washington DC, grew up in Maryland, and graduated from Princeton University in 1987.  After a year on a Fulbright fellowship in Warsaw, Poland, he entered graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley, receiving a PhD in physics in 1994.  He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Nuclear Theory in Seattle and in the Theoretical Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and then worked as a technical staff member at Los Alamos.  In 2006 he moved to a faculty position at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he is a Distinguished University Professor with appointments in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the Institute for Physical Science and Technology, and the Department of Physics. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a fellow of the American Physical Society, and a recipient of the 2019 APS Onsager Prize in theoretical statistical physics.

Research Interests

Jarzynski’s research interests include theoretical and computational work at the interface of physics, chemistry and biology, with a particular focus on nonequilibrium phenomena and the role of fluctuations in the application of thermodynamic principles to microscopic systems.  In 1996 he derived an equality that relates irreversible work to equilibrium free energy differences.  This prediction has been verified in numerous experiments, on systems ranging from optically manipulated biomolecules and torsional pendula to quantum dots and trapped ions.  The recent interests of his research group include quantum control and thermodynamics, the thermodynamic arrow of time, the physical implications of information processing, and applications of thermodynamics to problems of biophysical interest.

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