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Stephen Lawrence Craig


William T. Miller Distinguished Professor of Chemistry

Research interests in Prof. Craig's group bridge physical organic and materials chemistry. Many of these interests are guided by the vision that important challenges in materials science might be better tackled not from the traditional perspective of an engineer, but rather from the molecular perspective of an organic chemist. Current interests include the design and synthesis of self-healing polymers and the use of modern mechanochemistry in new stress-responsive polymers, catalysis, and the study of transition states and reactive intermediates. These areas require an interdisciplinary and nontraditional mix of synthetic organic and polymer chemistry, single-molecule spectroscopy, supramolecular chemistry, and materials characterization.
Research interests are complemented by numerous teaching and outreach activities, including: (1) hosting intensive undergraduate and high school research experiences for a diverse group of both Duke and non-Duke students; (2) exploiting effective, scalable, and low-cost mechanisms for content dissemination; (3) team-based and active learning content in the undergraduate and graduate classroom.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • William T. Miller Distinguished Professor of Chemistry
  • Professor in the Department of Chemistry
  • Bass Fellow

Contact Information

  • Office Location: 3221 French Family Science Cen, 124 Science Drive, Durham, NC 27708
  • Office Phone: +1 919 660 1538
  • Email Address:
  • Websites:


  • Ph.D. Stanford University, 1997
  • M.Phil. University of Cambridge (United Kingdom), 1992
  • B.S. Duke University, 1991

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Schulich Visiting Faculty Lectureship. The Technion. 2022
  • NC ACS Distinguished Lecturer . NC Section, ACS. 2022
  • Covestro Distinguished Lecturer. Dept. of Chemistry, Univ. of Pittsburh. 2022
  • Special Creativity Award. Division of Chemistry, NSF . 2020
  • G. Stafford Whitby Memorial Lectureship. University of Akron. 2017
  • Arun Guthikonda Memorial Award and Lecture. Dept. of Chemistry, Columbia Univ.. 2015
  • AAAS Fellow. American Association for the Advancement of Science. 2013
  • Akron Section Award . ACS. 2013
  • Arthur K. Doolittle Award. PMSE Division, ACS. 2013

Courses Taught

  • CHEM 531: Organic Chemistry
  • CHEM 494: Research Independent Study
  • CHEM 493: Research Independent Study
  • CHEM 394: Research Independent Study
  • CHEM 393: Research Independent Study
  • CHEM 201DL: Organic Chemistry I

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Shannahan, LS; Lin, Y; Berry, JF; Barbee, MH; Fermen-Coker, M; Craig, SL, Onset of Mechanochromic Response in the High Strain Rate Uniaxial Compression of Spiropyran Embedded Silicone Elastomers., Macromolecular rapid communications, vol 42 no. 1 (2021) [10.1002/marc.202000449] [abs].
  • Lin, Y; Kouznetsova, TB; Chang, C-C; Craig, SL, Enhanced polymer mechanical degradation through mechanochemically unveiled lactonization., Nature communications, vol 11 no. 1 (2020) [10.1038/s41467-020-18809-7] [abs].
  • Lin, Y; Craig, SL, Oxidative regulation of the mechanical strength of a C-S bond., Chemical science, vol 11 no. 38 (2020), pp. 10444-10448 [10.1039/d0sc04381h] [abs].
  • Ramirez, ALB; Kean, ZS; Orlicki, JA; Champhekar, M; Elsakr, SM; Krause, WE; Craig, SL, Mechanochemical strengthening of a synthetic polymer in response to typically destructive shear forces., Nature chemistry, vol 5 no. 9 (2013), pp. 757-761 [10.1038/nchem.1720] [abs].
  • Klukovich, HM; Kouznetsova, TB; Kean, ZS; Lenhardt, JM; Craig, SL, A backbone lever-arm effect enhances polymer mechanochemistry., Nature chemistry, vol 5 no. 2 (2013), pp. 110-114 [10.1038/nchem.1540] [abs].
  • Black, AL; Lenhardt, JM; Craig, SL, From molecular mechanochemistry to stress-responsive materials, Journal of Materials Chemistry, vol 21 no. 6 (2011), pp. 1655-1663 [10.1039/c0jm02636k] [abs].
  • Wu, D; Lenhardt, JM; Black, AL; Akhremitchev, BB; Craig, SL, Molecular stress relief through a force-induced irreversible extension in polymer contour length., Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol 132 no. 45 (2010), pp. 15936-15938 [10.1021/ja108429h] [abs].
  • Lenhardt, JM; Ong, MT; Choe, R; Evenhuis, CR; Martinez, TJ; Craig, SL, Trapping a diradical transition state by mechanochemical polymer extension., Science (New York, N.Y.), vol 329 no. 5995 (2010), pp. 1057-1060 [10.1126/science.1193412] [abs].
  • Juwarker, H; Lenhardt, JM; Pham, DM; Craig, SL, 1,2,3-Triazole CH...Cl(-) contacts guide anion binding and concomitant folding in 1,4-diaryl triazole oligomers., Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English), vol 47 no. 20 (2008), pp. 3740-3743 [10.1002/anie.200800548] [abs].
  • Serpe, MJ; Craig, SL, Physical organic chemistry of supramolecular polymers., Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids, vol 23 no. 4 (2007), pp. 1626-1634 [10.1021/la0621416] [abs].
  • Kersey, FR; Yount, WC; Craig, SL, Single-molecule force spectroscopy of bimolecular reactions: system homology in the mechanical activation of ligand substitution reactions., Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol 128 no. 12 (2006), pp. 3886-3887 [10.1021/ja058516b] [abs].
  • Yount, WC; Loveless, DM; Craig, SL, Small-molecule dynamics and mechanisms underlying the macroscopic mechanical properties of coordinatively cross-linked polymer networks., Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol 127 no. 41 (2005), pp. 14488-14496 [10.1021/ja054298a] [abs].
  • Yount, WC; Juwarker, H; Craig, SL, Orthogonal control of dissociation dynamics relative to thermodynamics in a main-chain reversible polymer., Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol 125 no. 50 (2003), pp. 15302-15303 [10.1021/ja036709y] [abs].

Affiliate Topics in Materials Research