Robert Q Topper

Professor of Chemistry

Dr. Topper works in the area of physical chemistry. His current interests include inorganic nanoparticles found in the environment, and structural changes in DNA caused by chemically-induced damage by environmental carcinogens (polyaromatic hydrocarbons and aromatic amines). He is also interested in the chemistry of the chalcogens (sulfur, selenium and tellurium) and in nanomaterials formed from elements at the metal/metalloid interface (arsenic, antimony and especially bismuth).

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and Chemistry from Florida State University and a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Yale University. His thesis focused on "chaos theory" (nonlinear dynamics), reaction rate theory, and molecular dynamics simulations.  He then worked for two years as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota with Donald Truhlar and for one year at the University of Rhode Island with David Freeman before joining the Cooper Union in 1993. Dr. Topper has also chaired the Department of Chemistry, Medical Technology and Physics at Monmouth University. He continues to extensively use Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics methods in his research, which has included many undergraduate, graduate and high school students as colleagues and co-authors. His work has been published in such journals as the Journal of Physical Chemistry, Reviews in Computational Chemistry, the Journal of Chemical Physics, and Advances in Chemical Physics. 

At Cooper Union, Dr. Topper teaches a variety of chemistry courses and directs engineering students in all majors in research. He also coordinates the freshman general chemistry laboratory course and teaches freshman, junior, senior and graduate-level courses in general, physical, and inorganic chemistry.

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  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

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  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.