Robert Q. Topper

Professor of Chemistry



B.S., Physics and ChemistryFlorida State University
M.S., M. Phil., Ph.D., Theoretical Physical Chemistry, Yale University (with Nelson DeLeon)

Brief Biography

2009-present    Professor of Chemistry, Cooper Union
2017                 Visiting Research Professor, Department of Chemistry, New York University
2003-2009        Department Chair and Assoc. Prof., Monmouth University
1993-2003        Assistant and Associate Professor, Cooper Union
1992-1993        Postdoctoral researcher, University of Rhode Island (with David Freeman)
1990-1992        Postdoctoral researcher, University of Minnesota (with Donald Truhlar)
1986-1990        Research assistant, Yale University (with DeLos DeTar, Robley Light, Jack Saltiel) 
1983-1986        Instructional Assistant and PLATO Coordinator
                            Florida State University

Research interests

Overall, my research is in the areas of nanoscience, material science, and biophysics, using computational and theoretical methods to study systems at the molecular level and provide cogent connections between theory and experiment.

Current research includes the study of nucleation and concomitant proton transfer phenomena within ammonium halide and nitrate nanoparticles, including solvent effects. The resulting insights are useful in the study of atmospheric reactions in polluted urban coastal environments and the design of permeable membranes for battiers and fuel cells, as well as towards understanding the fundamental nature of the hydrogen bond.

Many of our projects include the use and development of novel Metropolis-Hastings Monte Carlo methods, and the development of system-specific models for intermolecular forces. We also have an underlying theme in our group of tacking problems that have a connection to environmental pollution.

I have recently carried out collaborative projects with the Tuckerman group at New York University which include the use of machine learning methods to help analyze the vast amounts of information produced by molecular dynamics simulations of biomolecules and polymorphic materials. 

Our group has also worked on important problems in quantum thermodynamics, reaction rate theory, phase-space transport theory and nonlinear dynamics, floppy-body rotational dynamics, semiclassical molecular dynamics, molecular order-disorder phase transitions, reactivity trends in substituted bicyclic thioacetals, conformational dynamics of neurotransmitters, and chemically-induced DNA damage by environmental mutagens. Consulting work has focused on greenhouse gas capture technology.

To date, I've formally advised 67 undergraduate students and 10 master's students on research projects. Together with my students and colleagues I've published 64 peer-reviewed manuscripts, learning objects, and conference abstracts; written / co-authored 5 book chapters and 4 book reviews; organized 5 international scientific conferences; and given 23 invited seminars at colleges, universities, conferences, and high schools. I've also presented and/or co-authored 34 lectures and poster presentations at regional, national and international scientific conferences.

I'm on LinkedIn, and you can also follow my research discussions on ResearchGate. Here's a citation index of our publications on Google Scholar.


I teach undergraduate and graduate-level courses in general, physical, inorganic, and theoretical chemistry and advise selected students in senior engineering design projects. I also direct undergraduate and graduate engineering students in independent research.

In 2009 and again in 2012, I was honored by Cooper Union's students when I was named to the Engineering Student Council's "Student's List."







Enjoying a nice tall drink of "Dr. Topper!"

Last edited 5/31/22