Christopher James Durning


811A S.W. Mudd

Mail Code 4721

Tel(646) 942-7986
Fax(212) 854-3054

Professor Christopher Durning’s research aims to exploit "soft" material systems, including polymers, colloids, and amphiphiles, in applications of societal importance. Three underlying intellectual themes serve the purpose of working to understand and control these systems (i) transport and diffusion, (ii) surface and interfacial behavior, and (iii) association and self-assembly.

Research Interests

“Soft” material systems incorporating polymers, colloids and amphiphiles; polymer and colloidal glasses; active media; transport phenomena; non-equilibrium thermodynamics and statistical mechanics; membrane science; separations technologies

Typical examples of Durning’s research are recent projects on the development of novel membranes for separations and purification. The work has potential impacts in energy (e.g. natural gas purification) and sustainability (e.g. water purification). One collaborative effort focuses on the use of novel “grafted” polymer/nano-particle composites for gas separation membranes for natural gas treatment, among other applications. Another focuses on surface modification by self-assembly of membranes for filtration technologies (nano-filtration, reverse osmosis) for water purification, especially desalination. The key aspects of the first project mentioned were featured in the 2015 Columbia Engineering special issue, “ENGINEERING NANOSCIENCE.”

Professor Durning received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Columbia University in 1978, and earned his PhD in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University in 1983. He joined the faculty at Columbia in 1983, where he served for more than 35 years and remains active in both teaching and research.


  • Visiting Senior Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Bologna, Bologna Italy, 07/01/13 - 12/31/13
  • Visiting Lecturer, Mathematics Department, Vancouver Island University, BC Canada, 01/01/06 - 6/30/06
  • Visiting Scientist, Institute of Materials Science, University of Connecticut, 09/01/97 - 12/31/97
  • Visiting Staff Member, Manuel Lujan Jr. Neutron Scattering Center, Los Alamos National Lab, 01/01/97 - 08/31/97
  • Visiting Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of Minnesota, 09/01/93 - 01/15/94
  • Visiting Professor, Department of Applied Mathematics, California Institute of Technology, 09/01/92 - 01/30/93
  • Visiting Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Sherbrooke; Sherbrooke, Canada, 05/01/91- 06/30/91
  • Visiting Scientist, Scientific Research Laboratories, Ford Motor Co., Dearborn MI, Summer 1990
  • Visiting Scientist; Packaging Technology Group, T.J. Watson Research Center, IBM Corporation, Yorktown Heights NY, Summer 1988
  • Research Associate; Textile Research Institute, Princeton NJ, 0/1/88 - 12/31/91
  • Visiting Professor; Polymer Processing & Compounding Group, Experimental Station, E.I. duPont deNemours & Co. Inc., Wilmington DE, Summer 1986
  • Visiting Professor; Engineering Technology Laboratory, Experimental Station, E.I. duPont deNemours & Co. Inc., Wilmington DE, Summer 1984


  • Professor, Columbia University, 07/98 - Present
  • Vice-Chairman, Columbia University, 07/03 - 07/05
  • Acting Chairman, Columbia University, 01/03 - 07/03
  • Associate Professor, Columbia University, 07/88 - 07/98
  • Assistant Professor, Columbia University, 07/83 - 07/88
  • Lecturer, Columbia University, 01/83 - 07/83


  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers


  • Janes, D. W.; Durning, C. J. (2013). Sorption and Diffusion of n-Alkyl Acetates in Poly(methyl acrylate)/Silica Nanocomposites. Macromolecules, 46 (3), 856-866
  • Janes, D. W., Kim, J.S., Durning, C. J. (2013). Interval Sorption of Alkyl Acetates and Benzenes in Poly(Methyl Acrylate). Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, Special Issue in Honor of Prof. G. Sarti, 52, 8765-8773.
  • Escobar-Ferrand, L., Li, D., Lee, D., Durning, C. J. (2014). All-Nanoparticle Layer by Layer Surface Modification of Micro and Ultrafiltration Membranes. Langmuir, 30, 5545.
  • Doghieri, F.; Minelli, M.; Durning, C. J. (2016). Non-equilibrium thermodynamics of glassy polymers: Use of equations of state to predict gas solubility and heat capacity. Fluid Phase Equilibria, 417, 144-157.
  • Janes, D. W.; Bilchak, C.; Durning, C.J. (2017). Decoupling energetic modifications to diffusion from free volume in polymer/nanoparticle composites. Soft Matter, 13, 677-685.
  • Bilchak, C.R., Buenning, E., et al. including Durning, C.J. (2017). Polymer-grafted Nanoparticle Membranes with Controllable Free Volume. Macromolecules, 50, 7111-7120.