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Peter T. Cummings

Petter Cummings
Name: Peter T. Cummings
Phone: 615 322 8129
Fax: 615 343 7951
Office: 303 Olin Hall
Mail: PMB-351604
  2301 Vanderbilt Place
  Nashville, TN 37235-1604 USA

Associate Dean for Research

John R. Hall Professor of Chemical Engineering

Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering


Ph.D., Math. University of Melbourne (Australia), 1980

B. Math. (First Class Honors) University of Newcastle (Australia), 1976


  • Molecular Modeling of Fluids. We apply the techniques of molecular simulation and molecular theory to understand the properties of fluid systems, particularly aqueous systems, supercritical fluid mixtures and fluids with nanoscale structure (such as reversed micelles in supercritical fluids and polyelectrolytes).
  • Computational Nanoscience. We are interested in nanostructured systems, such as hybrid organic-inorganic nanocomposites, the nanoscale complexity found at metal oxide/aqueous solution interfaces, and nanoparticles formed from hydrothermal solution. In addition, we have interests in molecular electronics (electronic devices made from single molecules) and the effect of nanoscale confinement on the phase and structure of the confined fluid.
  • Molecular Rheology of Lubricants. Using several non-equilibrium molecular dynamics simulation methods, we study the rheology (particularly viscosity) of typical lubricants used in conventional (e.g., automotive) and unconventional (e.g., disk drive lubrication). Our goal is to develop tools which will enable lubricant designs to be tested computationally before deciding a lubricant is sufficiently superior to other that it is worth synthesizing it. We additionally study the effect of nanoscale confinement on lubricants.
  • Mathematical Modeling of Cancer Invasion. We are collaborating with researchers in the Cancer Biology department of the Vanderbilt Medical Center to develop cancer-cell-based mathematical models of cancer tumors, with a particular emphasis on the invasion process whereby cancer spreads to other parts of the human body.

Representative Recent Publications:

(for a full listing, click here and follow the research link)

Fenter, P., Lee, S. S., Skelton, A. A., Cummings, P. T. “Direct and quantitative comparison of pixelated density profiles with high-resolution X-ray reflectivity data,” Journal of Sychrotron Radiation, in press (2011)

Gruver, J. S., Potdar, A. A., Jeon, J., Sai, J., Anderson, B., Webb, D., Richmond, A., Quaranta, V., Cummings, P. T., and Chung, C., “Bi-modal analysis reveals a general scaling law governing non-directed and chemotactic cell motility,” Biophysical Journal, 99 (2010), 367-376. [PMID: 20643054]

Docherty, H. and Cummings P. T., “Direct evidence for fluid-solid transition of nanoconfined fluids,” Soft Matter,  6 (2010), 1640-1643.

Cummings, P. T., Docherty, H., Iacovella, C. R., and Singh, J. K., “Phase Transitions in Nanoconfined Fluids: The Evidence from Simulation and Theory,” AIChE Journal, 56 (2010), 842-848.

Potdar, A. A., Jeon, J., Weaver, A. M., Quaranta, V., and Cummings, P. T., “Cell Migration Paths Of Mammary Epithelial Cells Resemble A Bimodal Levy Modulated Correlated Random Walk Pattern,” PLoS One, 5 (2010), e9636. [doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009636. [PMID: 20224792]

Jeon, J., Quaranta, V., and Cummings, P. T., “An Off-Lattice Hybrid Discrete-Continuum (OLHDC) Model of Tumor Growth and Invasion,” Biophysical Journal, 98 (2010), 37-47. [PMID: 20074513]

Rosenqvist, J., Machesky, M. L., Lukas Vlcek, Peter T. Cummings and David J. Wesolowski, “Charging Properties of Cassiterite ( α -SnO2) Surfaces in NaCl and RbCl Ionic Media,“ Langmuir, 25 (2009), 10852–10862.

Mamontov, E., Vlcek, L., Wesolowski, D. J., Cummings, P. T., Rosenqvist, J., Wang, W., Cole, D. R., Anovitz, L. M., and Gasparovic, G., “Suppression of the dynamic transition in surface water at low hydration levels: A study of water on rutile,” Physical Review, E 79 (2009), Art. No. 051504.

Potdar, A. A., Lu, J., Jeon, J., Weaver, A. M., Cummings, P. T., "Bimodal Analysis of Mammary Epithelial Cell Migration in Two Dimensions," Annals of Biomedical Engineering, 37 (2009), 230–245. [PMID: 18982450]

Pu, Q., Leng, Y., and Cummings, P. T., “Rate-Dependent Energy Release Mechanismof Gold Nanowires under Elongation,” Journal of the American Chemical Society, 130 (2008), 17907–17912.


Cummings, P. T., and Glotzer, S. C., “Inventing a New America through Discovery and Innovation in Science, Engineering and Medicine,” 2010 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Annual Meeting, Salt Lake City, UT, November 7-12, 2010

Cummings, P. T., “Many-Scale and Multi-Scale Modeling in Computational Nanoscience,” ACS National Exposition, The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Boston, MA, August 22-26, 2010

Cummings, P. T., “The Interplay of Theory and Experiment in Nanoscience,” 2010 International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICONN 2010), Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour, Australia, February 22-26, 2010

Cummings, P. T., “Molecular Simulation and Modeling of Water and Aqueous Solutions in Bulk and at Interfaces,” 17th Annual Mardi Gras Conference on Computational Science: Computational Materials and Methods, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, February 11-14, 2010

Cummings, P. T., “The Interplay of Theory and Experiment in Nanoscience,” 5th Sino-US Joint Conference of Chemical Engineering, Fragrant Hill Hotel, Beijing, China, October 13-16, 2009

Cummings, P. T., “Computational Nanoscience: A Tool for Understanding Nanoscale Systems,” 2009 National Science Foundation Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation Grantees Conference: Research and Education in a Flat World, Hawaii Convention Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, June 22-25, 2009