Chris Rycroft

Chris Rycroft

  • Assistant Professor in Applied Mathematics


Chris Rycroft is an assistant professor of applied mathematics in the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Rycroft is interested in mathematical modeling and scientific computation, particularly for interdisciplinary applications in science and engineering. 

Over the past several decades, computation has become an essential component of most branches of scientific inquiry, making it possible to test hypotheses and scenarios that would be difficult to address analytically or experimentally. Rycroft is interested in developing new computational methods to model physical and biological systems. He also applies these methods to practical problems in a variety of fields, including physics, biology, materials science, and mechanical engineering. Often these two goals are interwoven, where increased knowledge of a scientific problem leads to a more accurate and efficient computational model, and where a computational model informs the next steps to take in a scientific study.

Rycroft is particularly interested in problems that relate to the mechanics of materials, and geometry. Recently, he developed a new continuum simulation method, and applied it to model bulk metallic glass, a type of advanced alloy under consideration for a variety of technological applications. Other recent projects include the development of computational methods for simulating fluid—structure interaction, using optimization techniques to calculate the morphology of three-dimensional standing ocean waves, and applying the mathematical approach of conformal mapping to examine how objects dissolve in fluid flow.

He is also interested in particle-based simulation and molecular dynamics, recently studying the abrasion between grains that occurs when granular materials flow through hoppers. He has released several software libraries, including Voro++ for three-dimensional computations of the Voronoi tessellation, a technique in computational geometry that has wide range of applications.

He is also interested in problems in biology and bioengineering. Prior to his appointment at Harvard, Rycroft was a Morrey Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. While in Berkeley, he was part of the Bay Area Physical Sciences–Oncology Center (PS–OC), where he investigated how cancer cells mechanically interact with each other and their environment.

Rycroft is a visiting faculty scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, where he has worked several projects relating to energy production and efficiency, including the development of high-throughput screening techniques analysis techniques to find advanced materials for carbon capture applications.

Contact Information

Office:305 Pierce Hall
Office Phone:(617) 496-4128
Assistant:Claudia Stearns
Assistant Office:Pierce Hall 318
Assistant Phone:617-496-4870

Primary Teaching Area

Positions & Employment

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  - 2014–present, Assistant Professor of Applied Mathematics 

Department of Mathematics, University of California, Berkeley
  - 2010–2013, Morrey Assistant Professor

Computational Research Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  - 2007–2010, Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow
  - 2010–present, Visiting Faculty Scientist


Robert M. Rose Presidential Fellowship, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2002–2003

Foundress Prize, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge, 2001

Foundation Scholarship, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge, 2000–2001

Legg Prize, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge, 1999