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David N. Beratan


R.J. Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Chemistry

Dr. Beratan is developing theoretical approaches to understand the function of complex molecular and macromolecular systems, including: the molecular underpinnings of energy harvesting and charge transport in biology; the mechanism of solar energy capture and conversion in man-made structures; the nature of charge conductivity in naturally occurring nucleic acids and in synthetic constructs, including the photochemical repair of damaged DNA in extremophiles; CH bond activation by copper oxygenase enzymes; the flow of charge in bacterial appendages on the micrometer length scale; the theoretical foundations for inverse molecular design - the property driven discovery of chemical structures with optimal properties; the exploitation of molecular diversity in the mapping of molecular and materials "space"; the use of infra-red excitation to manipulate electron transport through molecules; the optical signatures of molecular chirality and the influence of chirality on charge transport. Prof. Beratan is affiliated with the Departments of Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physics, as well as Duke's programs in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Structural Biology and Biophysics, Nanosciences, and Phononics.  

Appointments and Affiliations

  • R.J. Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Chemistry
  • Professor of Chemistry
  • Professor of Physics
  • Professor of Biochemistry

Contact Information

  • Office Location: 5311 French Science Center, Durham, NC 27708
  • Office Phone: +1 919 660 1526
  • Email Address:
  • Websites:


  • Ph.D. California Institute of Technology, 1986
  • B.S. Duke University, 1980

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Irving Langmuir Award in Chemical Physics. American Chemical Society. 2024
  • NAS Member. National Academy of Sciences. 2024
  • Horizon Prize. Royal Society of Chemistry. 2023
  • Edward Morley Medal. American Chemical Society, Cleveland Section. 2021
  • Cozzarelli Prize. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2020
  • Festschrift. Journal of Physical Chemistry B. 2020
  • Bourke Award. Royal Society of Chemistry. 2019
  • Murray S. Goodman Memorial Prize. American Chemical Society and Biopolymers. 2018
  • Florida Award. American Chemical Society. 2017
  • Charles H. Herty Medal . American Chemical Society Georgia Section. 2015
  • Elected Fellow. American Chemical Society. 2013
  • Feynman Prize for Nanoscience (Theory). Foresight Institute. 2013
  • Elected Fellow. American Association for the Advancement of Science. 2002
  • Conrad E. Ronneberg Visiting Scholar. University of Chicago. 2001
  • Elected Fellow. American Physical Society. 2001
  • Ralph & Lucy Hirschmann Visiting Professorship. University of Pennsylvania. 2000
  • Fellow. John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. 1999
  • Visiting Fellow. All Souls College, University of Oxford. 1999
  • National Young Investigator Award . National Science Foundation. 1992

Courses Taught

  • EGR 393: Research Projects in Engineering
  • CHEM 494: Research Independent Study
  • CHEM 493: Research Independent Study
  • CHEM 394: Research Independent Study
  • CHEM 393: Research Independent Study
  • CHEM 302: How Does Biology Work? The Physical and Chemical Underpinnings of Biological Nanomachines
  • CHEM 295: Introduction to Research Independent Study
  • CHEM 190FS: Special Topics in Chemistry

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Bai, S; Zhang, P; Beratan, DN, Predicting Dexter Energy Transfer Interactions from Molecular Orbital Overlaps, Journal of Physical Chemistry C, vol 124 no. 35 (2020), pp. 18956-18960 [10.1021/acs.jpcc.0c06694] [abs].
  • Yuly, JL; Zhang, P; Lubner, CE; Peters, JW; Beratan, DN, Universal free-energy landscape produces efficient and reversible electron bifurcation., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 117 no. 35 (2020), pp. 21045-21051 [10.1073/pnas.2010815117] [abs].
  • Teo, RD; Migliore, A; Beratan, DN, Mutation effects on charge transport through the p58c iron-sulfur protein., Chemical science, vol 11 no. 27 (2020), pp. 7076-7085 [10.1039/d0sc02245d] [abs].