Karen Johnston, MSci, PhD, MInstP, FHEA

Lecturer B

Academic / Professional qualifications

Member of the Institute of Physics

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Personal Statement

I joined the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering as a Lecturer in August 2013.  I am interested in a wide range of materials, particularly those with soft-hard matter interfaces, and I use multiscale simulations to understand their properties.  

Teaching Interests

CP102 Introduction to Chemical Engineering: Fundamentals, Techniques and Tools
This course consists of 4 components:

  • Introduction to chemical engineering (semester 1)
  • IT techniques (semester 1)
  • Energy fundamentals (semester 2)
  • Frontiers of Chemical Engineering project (semester 2)

Supervisor for CP407 conceptual design projects

Academic supervisor for 18350 MEng projects

Academic supervisor for Distance Learning MSc project


Research Interests

HYBRID MATERIALS: Hard-Soft Matter Interfaces

Organic-inorganic composites are widely used in industry due to their strength, flexibility and light weight. Although generic properties of polymers at surfaces are well understood the interaction between specific materials is not. The main challenge in simulating polymer-solid interfaces is the different length and time scales involved. This research bridges the gap between the micro- and mesoscale properties using a hierarchical multiscale approach. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations are used to obtain the detailed quantum interactions at the interface and this information is used to build surface potentials for atomistic and coarse-grained (CG) molecular dynamics simulations.


Expertise & Capabilities

I build multiscale simulations using the following techniques:

  • Density functional theory (DFT) gives information about electronic structure, adsorption and surface energies, etc. and is particularly useful for periodic systems e.g. crystals although it can now be used for more complex systems.
  • Molecular dynamics gives structural information, including spatially resolved densities, polymer and protein structures, and dynamic information such as diffusion, etc. 
  • Monte Carlo techniques can be used for self-assembly or adsorption. 

    Research areas

  • Density functional theory; molecular dynamics, Polymers, Classical molecular dynamics simulations, Multiscale modelling, Interfaces, Surfaces, Adsorption, Ferroelectrics


  1. Solvay Composites Group

    Activity: Visiting an external institutionVisiting an external organisation

  2. RSC Theoretical Chemistry Group conference

    Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

  3. Multiscale modelling of surfaces and interfaces

    Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

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  1. Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP 2016-2017 University of Strathclyde) | McKechnie, David

    Project: Research Studentship - Internally AllocatedResearch Studentship (Internally Allocated)

  2. CCP5 funded summer project

    Project: ResearchSuccessful - Funding Does Not Count as R or KE

  3. BP funded summer project

    Project: ResearchSuccessful - Funding Does Not Count as R or KE

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Karen Johnston

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