Thomas O’Connor's research group applies molecular and continuum modeling and simulation to design sustainable polymer materials and improve soft material manufacturing methods. Prior to joining Carnegie Mellon, O'Connor was a Harry S. Truman Fellow at Sandia National Laboratories, where he developed an open-source platform for modeling polymer processing flows (RHEO). He is an active developer on several other open-source projects, including the LAMMPS software for molecular simulations, and works to build free modeling software to enhance science education in university and K12 classrooms. O'Connor is an active member of the U.S. Society of Rheology and the Division of Polymer Physics of the American Physical Society.

O'Connor's research aims to apply theory and simulation to understand the nanoscale structure and dynamics of plastics, gels, nanocomposites, and other soft matter in equilibrium and during flow and deformation. His research group uses a variety of computational methods including molecular dynamics, lattice-Boltzmann Methods, and mesh-free hydrodynamics. This multiscale approach allows the O’Connor group to identify the molecular scale processes that produce macroscopic material behavior and use these discoveries to design more versatile and sustainable soft materials. O’Connor is particularly interested in learning how nature can guide the design of new polymer manufacturing methods by studying how insects, spiders, and worms have naturally evolved to manipulate biopolymers as adhesives and webbing. 

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Thomas O'Connor
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Molecular modeling and simulation to design sustainable polymers

Self-Assembled Associating Polymers with Thomas O'Connor


Ph.D. Physics, Johns Hopkins University

M.S. Physics, Johns Hopkins University

B.S. Physics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Media mentions

CMU Engineering

Welcome to the self-assembled jungle

Thomas O’Connor finds that all hope is not lost for working with, processing, and one day recycling self-assembled materials.