Our group develops theory and simulation to deduce the conceptual and quantitative rules that govern the behavior of complex physical systems, from the formation of spontaneous ordering patterns in living and driven systems, to the dynamics of strongly interacting electrons in nanostructures and molecules. Our primary approach lies in the construction of physically intuitive models that reduce complex behaviors into simple but calculable pieces, uniting modelling traditions in condensed matter physics to the methods of theoretical and computational chemistry. While the questions that motivate us are fundamental in nature, problems like water desalination and energy harvesting connect directly to societal concerns associated with diminishing natural resources. From carrier dynamics in nanostructures to the detailed mechanics of DNA molecules, we advance theory to interpret the results of current experiments and motivate new ones. Because we are interested in many problems that have remained resistant to existing methods, our work often demands the creation of new tools and approaches.