Carnegie Mellon University Department of Chemistry
photo of Gary D. Patterson

Gary D. Patterson


Carnegie Mellon University


Phone: (412) 268-3324

Fax: (412) 268-1061

Office: Mellon Institute 405


Faculty & Research

Gary D. Patterson


Research Areas

Polymer science, colloid science, chemistry and physics of liquids and complex fluids, light scattering, history and philosophy of chemistry

Polymer Science

The structure and dynamics of macromolecular systems are studied using light scattering and statistical mechanics.  Individual polymers and macromolecular aggregates are examined in dilute solution. The structure of polymer solutions is determined as a function of concentration. The dynamics of the glass transition are studied over fifteen orders of magnitude in time. A recent book on Physical Chemistry of Macromolecules is now in print.

History and Philosophy of Chemistry

An ongoing project is being carried out at the Chemical Heritage Foundation on the history of polymer science. The book is entitled “Paradigms in Polymer Science.” The history of chemistry and of books about chemistry is being pursued from Greek times to the present. Current bibliophile projects include a study of Jean Perrin and his Landmark Book: Les Atomes. A History of Polymer Science at the Mellon Institute has been presented.

Education and Appointments
1984–present Professor, Carnegie Mellon University
1972–1984 Member of Technical Staff, Chemical Physics, AT&T Bell Laboratories
1972 Ph.D. Physical Chemistry, Stanford University
Awards and Distinctions
2015–2016 Chair, Division of the History of Chemistry, ACS
2014 Member of Board of Directors, Chemical Heritage Foundation
2010 President, Bolton Society
2004–2005 Charles C. Price Fellow of the Chemical Heritage Foundation
1981  National Academy of Sciences Award for Initiatives in Research
1981  American Physical Society Fellow
1981  Royal Society of Chemistry Fellow 
Selected Publications

Preceptors in Chemistry
Patterson, G.D. (ACS Books, 2017)

Paul John Flory: A Life of Science and Friends
Patterson, G. D., (CRC Press, 2016)

In retrospect: Sixty years of living polymers
Nature, 536, 276–277 (2016).

Polymer Science from 1935–1953: Consolidating the Paradigm
Patterson, G.D. (Springer, 2014)

Characters in Chemistry: A Celebration of the Humanity of Chemistry
Patterson, G.D. (ACS Books, 2013)

Science in Cambridge, in Science History: A Traveler’s Guide, Mary Virginia Orna, Ed., Patterson, G.D. ACS Symposium Series, 1179, 117–132 (2013).

A Prehistory of Polymer Science
Patterson, G.D. (Springer, 2012)

Les Atomes: A Landmark Book in Chemistry
Patterson, G. D., Foundations of Chemistry 2010, 12 (3), 223–233.

Eyes to See: Physical Evidence for Atoms in Atoms in Chemistry: From Dalton’s Predecessors to Complex Atoms and Beyond. Giunta, C.J., Ed. Patterson, G.D. ACS Symposium Volume, 1044. 83–92 (2007)

Physical Chemistry of Macromolecules
Patterson, G.D. (CRC Press, 2007)

Jean Perrin and the triumph of the atomic doctrine
Patterson, G.D., Endeavor 2007, 31 (2), 50-53.