Michael D. Fayer is the David Mulvane Ehrsam and Edward Curtis Franklin Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University. Fayer was born and grew up in Los Angeles, California. He attended the University of California at Berkeley for both undergraduate and graduate school. He received his Ph. D. in Chemistry in 1974 under the supervision of Professor Charles B. Harris. He has been married to Terry Fayer for well over fifty years, and he has two children, Victoria and William and two grandchildren. Fayer began his academic career at Stanford as an Assistant Professor at the age of twenty six in 1974. Over the following almost 50 years through his continuing creative explosion, he pioneered and launched a fundamental transformation of how the dynamics and dynamical interactions of complex molecular systems are investigated. The multiple experimental approaches he initiated have forever changed the manner in which chemists, biologist, molecular physicists, and materials scientist interrogate key aspects of nature.

Research Interests

The Fayer group is involved in research on the dynamics and interactions of molecules in complex molecular materials. Systems that have mesoscopic structure and other types of complex structures and dynamics are common in nature and have properties that are distinct from a typical bulk material. For example, water in a nanoscopic pool of several hundred water molecules behaves very differently from bulk water. We are applying a variety of ultrafast nonlinear experiments including two dimensional infrared vibrational echo spectroscopy, other ultrafast IR methods, and ultrafast visible and UV experiments. We are exploring dynamics and intermolecular interactions of molecules in liquids, liquids in nanoscopic environments, room temperature ionic liquids, polymers, polymer membranes, and perovskites. We are also studying solute-solvent dynamics and interactions such as complex formation and dissociation and isomerization. We are investigating proton transfer in water and other liquids and in nanoscopic systems, as well as highly concentrated aqueous salt solutions. We develop methodologies and theory of ultrafast multidimensional vibrational spectroscopy and other ultrafast optical methods for general probes of structural dynamics in complex molecular systems. We also develop and apply statistical mechanics theory of molecular systems and experimental observables.

Membership Type


Election Year


Primary Section

Section 14: Chemistry

Secondary Section

Section 29: Biophysics and Computational Biology