Dan Schwartz
Glenn L. Murphy Professor of Engineering • Interim Director, Environmental Engineering
Chemical and Biological Engineering

Office: JSCBB D124
Mailbox: 596 UCB


PhD in Physics, Harvard University (1991)
AB summa cum laude in Chemistry and Physics, Harvard University (1984)

Selected Honors and Awards

  • Dean’s Performance Award for Outstanding Research (2016)
  • Dean’s Award for Outstanding Research (2014)
  • Fellow of the American Chemical Society (2014)
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society (2011)
  • Graduate Teaching Award (student-awarded), CU-Boulder ChBE Dept. (2011, ‘15, ‘17, ‘19)
  • Faculty Research Award, CU-Boulder College of Engineering (2010)
  • Boulder Faculty Assembly Award for Excellence in Research (2008)
  • CU-LEAD Alliance Faculty Appreciation Award (2006)
  • Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (1999)
  • NSF/CAREER Award (1998)
  • Mortarboard Honor Society Salute for Excellence in Teaching (1997, 1998, 1999)
  • Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation New Faculty Award (1994)

Selected Publications

  • Haichao Wu, Benjamin Greydanus, and Daniel K. Schwartz, “Mechanisms of Transport Enhancement for Self-Propelled Nanoswimmers in a Porous Matrix”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118, e2101801118 (2021); doi:10.1073/pnas.2101807118
  • Andres F. Chaparro Sosa, Riley M. Bednar, Ryan A. Mehl, Daniel K. Schwartz, and Joel L. Kaar, “Faster Surface Ligation Reactions Improve Immobilized Enzyme Structure and Activity”, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 143, 7154-7163 (2021); doi:10.1021/jacs.1c02375
  • Connor J. Thompson, Vinh H. Vu, Deborah E. Leckband, and Daniel K. Schwartz, “Cadherin Cis- and Trans-Interactions are Mutually Cooperative”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118, e2019845118  (2021): doi:10.1073/pnas.2019845118.
  • Haichao Wu and Daniel K. Schwartz, “Nanoparticle Tracking to Probe Transport in Porous Media” , Accounts of Chemical Research, 53, 2130-2139 (2020); doi:10.1021/acs.accounts.0c00408
  • Andres F. Chaparro Sosa, Kenneth J. Black, Daniel F. Kienle, Joel L. Kaar, and Daniel K. Schwartz, “Engineering the Composition of Heterogeneous Lipid Bilayers to Stabilize Tethered Enzymes”, Advanced Materials Interfaces, 7, 2000533 (2020); doi:10.1002/admi.202000533
  • Dapeng Wang and Daniel K. Schwartz, “Non-Brownian Interfacial Diffusion: Flying, Hopping, and Crawling”, J. Phys Chem C, 124, 19880-19891 (2020); doi:10.1021/acs.jpcc.0c05834
  • James S. Weltz, Daniel F. Kienle, Daniel K. Schwartz, and Joel L. Kaar, “Reduced Enzyme Dynamics upon Multipoint Covalent Immobilization Leads to Stability-Activity Tradeoff”, J .Am. Chem. Soc. 142, 3463-3471 (2020); doi:10.1021/jacs.9b11707
  • Benjamin Greydanus, Daniel K. Schwartz, and J. Will Medlin, “Controlling Catalyst Phase Selectivity in Complex Mixtures with Amphiphilic Janus Particles, ACS Applied Matls & Interfaces 12, 2338-2345(2020); doi:10.1021/acsami.9b16957
  • Dapeng Wang, Lijun Liu, Haichao Wu, Jizhong Chen, and Daniel K. Schwartz, “Diffusive Escape of a Nanoparticle from a Porous Cavity”, Phys Rev Lett 123, 118002 (2019); doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.123.118002
  • Jeremiah C. Traeger, Zachary Lamberty, and Daniel K. Schwartz, “Influence of Oligonucleotide Grafting Density on Surface-Mediated DNA Transport and Hybridization”, ACS Nano, 13, 7850-7859 (2019). doi:10.1021/acsnano.9b02157
  • Dapeng Wang, Haichao Wu, Daniel K. Schwartz, “Three-Dimensional Tracking of Interfacial Hopping Diffusion”; doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.119.268001, Physical Review Letters, 119, 268001 (2017),
  • James S. Weltz, Daniel K. Schwartz, and Joel L. Kaar , “Surface-Mediated Protein Unfolding as a Search Process for Denaturing Sites”, ACS Nano; 10, 730-738 (2016); doi:10.1021/acsnano.5b05787
  • Michael J. Skaug, Liang Wang, Yifu Ding, and Daniel K. Schwartz, “Hindered Nanoparticle Diffusion and Void Accessibility in a Three-Dimensional Porous Medium” , ACS Nano, 9, 2148-2156 (2015); doi:10.1021/acsnano.5b00019
  • Carolyn A. Schoenbaum, Daniel K. Schwartz, and J. Will Medlin, “Controlling the Surface Environment of Heterogeneous Catalysts Using Self-Assembled Monolayers”, Accounts of Chemical Research, 47, 1438-1445 (2014); doi:10.1021/ar500029y
  • Michael J. Skaug, Joshua Mabry, Daniel K. Schwartz, “Intermittent Molecular Hopping at the Solid-Liquid Interface”, Physical Review Letters, 110, 256101 (2013)
  • Stephen T. Marshall, Marykate O’Brien, Brittany Oetter, April Corpu, Ryan M. Richards, Daniel K. Schwartz, J. William Medlin, “Controlled Selectivity for Palladium Catalysts using Self-assembled Monolayers”, Nature Materials, 9, 853-858 (2010)

Research Interests

Colloids and Interfaces, Transport in porous/nonporous materials, Single-molecule microscopy, Separations, Biomolecules at interfaces, Surface modification by self-assembly, Heterogeneous Catalysis/Biocatalysis, Biomaterials.

Molecular Transport at Interfaces

The dynamic behavior of molecules and nanoparticles at interfaces leads to complex phenomena, where heterogeneity may arise from spatial variation of the interface itself, from molecular structures, or through inhomogeneous dynamic behavior. To obtain relevant information about these complex dynamics, we have developed highly multiplexed single-molecule/single-particle tracking methods that acquire large numbers of trajectories permitting rigorous analysis using statistical modeling and machine learning. A specific discovery that was enabled by these methods involves the ubiquitous intermittent motion (i.e. “hopping diffusion”) of molecules at interfaces, which was explicitly confirmed using 3D double-helix point spread function imaging. Ongoing research studies the impacts of interfacial dynamics on various technological applications, membrane biophysics, and separations processes.

Transport in Porous and Complex Materials

Work in our lab has explored the motion of Brownian, pressure-driven, and self-propelled molecules, polymers, and nanoparticles within highly interconnected porous environments (both static and dynamic), leading to insights linking microscopic pore-scale mechanisms to macroscopic transport. Ongoing research includes fundamental studies of mass transport in complex interface-rich environments and within nominally non-porous materials, as well as more applied studies of phenomena in porous filtration and separations media that are relevant to energy and pharmaceutical technologies.

Biomolecules at Interfaces

Biomacromolecules, like proteins and DNA, interact in complex ways at interfaces and within interface-rich materials. We are studying the structural changes that occur when proteins and oligonucleotides adsorb or are immobilized at solid surfaces and at the air/water interface using single-molecule tracking fluorescence microscopy and other tools. We are particularly interested in understanding how surface-mediated structural changes (e.g. protein unfolding and refolding) influence applications including biosensing, biocatalysis, biomaterials, pharmaceuticals, and vaccines.

Catalyst Surface Modification using Self-assembled Monolayers

Self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) represent a versatile coating technology with applications in biocompatibility, nanotechnology, biosensors, corrosion resistance, and molecular electronics. We study the growth and structure of SAMs, ultra-thin molecular films adsorbed from solution on solid surfaces, and we are particularly interested in the use of SAMs to modify heterogeneous catalysts, to control activity and selectivity in thermal, biphasic, and electrochemical reactions.