Jennifer Swift

Office: 522 Regents
Phone: 202-687-5567
Fax: 202-687-6209

Lab web site:


B.A. magna cum laude, 1991 Bowdoin College
Ph. D. 1997 Yale University
Postdoctoral associate, 1997-1999 Dept of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science, University of Minnesota,

NSF CAREER Award (2001); Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2004); American Crystallography Association Margaret C. Etter Award (2005); College Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching (2005), US National Committee for Crystallography member (2006-2011), NSF-REU Program co-director (2006-)


Organic Chemistry Lecture I, Organic Solid State Chemistry, Molecular Gastronomy

Research Interests

The Swift lab is broadly interested in understanding the nucleation, growth, phase changes and physical properties of molecular crystals. This research area has many direct applications to the medical, pharmaceutical, defense, and food-product industries. All projects are highly interdisciplinary, enabling students to gain valuable experience in at least a few different areas of chemistry and material science including x-ray crystallography, physical characterization methods, atomic force microscopy (AFM), organic synthesis, and/or computational modeling.

Ongoing projects include:

1. Crystal deposition diseases/biomineralization. The formation of kidney stones, gout, and gallstones are all examples of undesirable crystallization processes. Our lab uses a variety of techniques to elucidate key steps in the development of these pathogenic deposits. We use in situ AFM to monitor the molecular-level growth of select crystal phases in order to determine how solution parameters directly affect the growth kinetics and/or mechanisms. Other studies have examined adhesion on crystal surfaces, the role of impurities, and the transformations of metastable crystal phases.

2. Template-directed nucleation. The Swift group is developing and using designer surfaces to control the phase, size, defect density and/or orientation of a wide variety of molecular crystals. The long term goal is to elucidate the interfacial requirements for heterogeneous nucleation in order to better predict crystallization of energetic materials, pharmaceuticals, and other model compounds a priori.

3. Structure-property relationships of hydrates, polymorphs and cocrystals. The Swift group is broadly interested in elucidating the fundamental structural, thermal, and mechanical properties of hydrates and/or polymorphic forms in a range of model and industrially-relevant compounds.

Recent Publications

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