Michael Rubinstein

Michael Rubinstein

Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Office Location: 
3377 Fciemas Building, Box 90300, Durham, NC 27708
Front Office Address: 
3377 Fciemas Building, Box 90300, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 660-5365


The research of the Rubinstein group is in the field of polymer theory and computer simulations. The unique properties of polymeric systems are due to the size, topology and interactions of the molecules they are made of. Our goal is to understand the properties of various polymeric systems and to design new systems with even more interesting and useful properties.

Our approach is based upon building and solving simple molecular models of different polymeric systems. The models we develop are simple enough to be solved either analytically or numerically, but contain the main features leading to unique properties of real polymers. Computer simulations of our models serve as an important bridge between analytical calculations and experiments.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Harvard University 1983

Selected Grants

Engineering Technologies to Determine Causal Relationships Between Chromatin Structure and Gene Regulation awarded by National Science Foundation (Co-Principal Investigator). 2018 to 2022

Center for the Chemistry of Molecularly Optimized Networks awarded by National Science Foundation (Co Investigator). 2018 to 2021

Rubinstein, M. "Theoretical Challenges in Polymer Dynamics." Theoretical Challenges in the Dynamics of Complex Fluids. Ed. McLeish, T.: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 1997. 21-51.

Button, B, Goodell, HP, Atieh, E, Chen, Y-C, Williams, R, Shenoy, S, Lackey, E, Shenkute, NT, Cai, L-H, Dennis, RG, Boucher, RC, and Rubinstein, M. "Roles of mucus adhesion and cohesion in cough clearance." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 115.49 (December 2018): 12501-12506. Full Text

Rubinstein, M, Liao, Q, and Panyukov, S. "Structure of Liquid Coacervates formed by Oppositely Charged Polyelectrolytes." Macromolecules 51.23 (December 2018): 9572-9588. Full Text

Ge, T, Grest, GS, and Rubinstein, M. "Nanorheology of Entangled Polymer Melts." Physical Review Letters 120.5 (February 2018): 057801-null. Full Text

Zhou, J, Wang, Y, Menard, LD, Panyukov, S, Rubinstein, M, and Ramsey, JM. "Enhanced nanochannel translocation and localization of genomic DNA molecules using three-dimensional nanofunnels." Nature Communications 8.1 (December 2017). Full Text

Peters, BL, Pike, DQ, Rubinstein, M, and Grest, GS. "Polymers at Liquid/Vapor Interface." Acs Macro Letters 6.11 (November 21, 2017): 1191-1195. Full Text

Wagner, CE, Turner, BS, Rubinstein, M, McKinley, GH, and Ribbeck, K. "A Rheological Study of the Association and Dynamics of MUC5AC Gels." Biomacromolecules 18.11 (November 13, 2017): 3654-3664. Full Text

Simon, JR, Carroll, NJ, Rubinstein, M, Chilkoti, A, and López, GP. "Programming molecular self-assembly of intrinsically disordered proteins containing sequences of low complexity." Nature Chemistry 9.6 (June 2017): 509-515. Full Text

Jacobson, DR, McIntosh, DB, Stevens, MJ, Rubinstein, M, and Saleh, OA. "Single-stranded nucleic acid elasticity arises from internal electrostatic tension." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114.20 (May 16, 2017): 5095-5100. Full Text

Gonzalez, MA, Simon, JR, Ghoorchian, A, Scholl, Z, Lin, S, Rubinstein, M, Marszalek, P, Chilkoti, A, López, GP, and Zhao, X. "Strong, Tough, Stretchable, and Self-Adhesive Hydrogels from Intrinsically Unstructured Proteins." Advanced Materials (Deerfield Beach, Fla.) 29.10 (March 2017). Full Text

Ge, T, Kalathi, JT, Halverson, JD, Grest, GS, and Rubinstein, M. "Nanoparticle Motion in Entangled Melts of Linear and Nonconcatenated Ring Polymers." Macromolecules 50.4 (February 28, 2017): 1749-1754. Full Text


Rubinstein, M, and Dobrynin, AV. "Associations leading to formation of reversible networks and gels." Current Opinion in Colloid & Interface Science 4.1 (February 1999): 83-87. Full Text