Jonathan Barnes

Jonathan Barnes

​Associate Professor of Chemistry
Postdoctoral Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
PhD, Northwestern University
BS MS, University of Kentucky
research interests:
  • Synthetic Organic Chemistry
  • Polymer Synthesis
  • Supramolecular Chemistry
  • Nanomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Inorganic & Environmental Chemistry

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    CB 1134
    One Brookings Dr.
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

The overarching goal of the Barnes group is to develop next-generation polymeric materials that can be programmed at the (macro)molecular level with precise functions, resulting in advanced materials that have enhanced properties for a broad range of applications. We design and synthesize functional monomers, polymers, and crosslinkers with non-covalent bonding capabilities – i.e., supramolecular properties – that adopt unique pathways of self-assembly and/or activation. Ultimately, the Barnes group seeks to find solutions to problems at the interface of chemistry, engineering, materials science, biology, and medicine.

The Barnes research group employs a multi-disciplinary approach towards research challenges in the areas of stimuli-responsive polymers and hydrogels, nanoparticle-based combination drug delivery, biomaterials, and topologically complex polymers and materials. The “keystone” of our research program is synthetic organic chemistry, which is central to the preparation of all functional materials in our group. Supramolecular and polymer chemistries are directly associated with this keystone, and together, all three areas represent the foundation of the research group. We aim to build on this foundation by constructing novel 'smart' materials with well-defined functions – for both fundamental and applied purposes – that will ultimately lead us down research pathways in the areas of nanomaterials, biomedical engineering, and inorganic and environmental chemistries.


Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, Washington University in St. Louis 
Siteman Cancer Center Member, Oncologic Imaging Program, Washington University School of Medicine

Awards and Fellowships

2020 ACS PMSE Young Investigator
2020 Polymer Chemistry, Emerging Investigator
2019 Supramolecular Chemistry, Emerging Supramolecular Chemist in the United States
2019 Kavli Fellow (Kavli Foundation / U.S. National Academy of Sciences)                
2017 Young Investigator Award (Cancer Research Foundation)
2017 Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering (Packard Foundation)        
2017 Foresight Fellow – Synthetic Polymer Chemistry (Foresight Institute)        
2015 IUPAC-SOLVAY International Award for Young Chemists                
2015 Northwestern Department of Chemistry Award for Excellence in Graduate Research    
2014 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Postdoctoral Fellow of the Life Sciences Research Foundation    
2013 Foresight Institute Distinguished Student Award Winner            
2013 Department of Energy Innovations in Fuel Cycle Research Award            
2012 Northwestern International Institute for Nanotechnology Ryan Fellowship        
2012 Department of Defense National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate Fellowship
2011 World Class University Fellowship – NanoCentury KAIST Institute / Korea    
2001 Thomas B. Nantz Memorial Scholarship (Excellence in Chemistry), University of Kentucky

Independent Publications & Patents

Publications (at WUSTL)

Amir, F.; Gruschka, M.; Colley, N. D.; Li, L.; Linder, H. R.; Sell, S. A.; Barnes, J. C.* Dynamic, Multimodal Hydrogel Actuators Using Porphyrin-Based Visible Light Photoredox Catalysis in a Thermoresponsive Polymer Network. Chem. Sci., 2020, 11, 10910–10920. Outside Front Cover.

Colley, N. D.; Nosiglia, M. A.; Li, L.; Amir, F.; Chang, C.; Fisher, J. A.; Barnes, J. C.* One-Pot Synthesis of a Linear [4]Catenate Using Orthogonal Metal Templation and Ring-Closing Metathesis. Inorg. Chem. 2020, 59, 10450–10460.

Delawder, A. O.; Barnes, J. C.* Precise patterning driven by droplets. Nature Chem., News & Views 2020, 12, 328–​330.

Li, R.; Li, X.; Zhang, Y.; Delawder, A. O.; Colley. N. D.; Whiting, E.; Barnes, J. C.* Diblock Brush-Arm Star Copolymers via a Core-First/Graft-From Approach Using γ-Cyclodextrin and ROMP: A Modular Platform for Drug Delivery. Polym. Chem. 2020, DOI: 10.1039/C9PY01146C. Part of the 'Polymer Chemistry Emerging Investigators 2020' issue.

Delawder, A. O.; Natraj, A.; Colley, N. D.; Saak, T.; Greene, A. F.; Barnes, J. C.* Synthesis, Self-Assembly, and Photomechanical Actuator Performance of a Sequence-Defined Polyviologen Macrocrosslinker. Supramol. Chem. 2019, 31, 523–531. Part of the ‘Emerging Supramolecular Chemists in the United States’ special issue.

Amir, F.; Liles, K. P.; Delawder, A. O.; Colley, N. D.; Palmquist, M. S.; Linder, H. R.; Sell, S. A.; Barnes, J. C.* Reversible Hydrogel Photopatterning: Spatial and Temporal Control Over Gel Mechanical Properties Using Visible-Light Photoredox Catalysis. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2019, 11, 24627–24638.

Liles, K. P.; Greene, A. F.; Danielson, M. K.; Colley, N. D.; Wellen, A.; Fisher, J. A.; Barnes, J. C.* Photoredox-based Actuation of an Artificial Molecular Muscle. Macromol. Rapid Commun. 2018, 1700781.

Greene, A. F.; Danielson, M.; Liles, K. P.; Delawder, A. O.; Li, X.; Natraj, A.; Wellen, A.; Barnes, J. C.* Redox-Responsive Artificial Molecular Muscles: Reversible Radical-Based Self-Assembly for Actuating Hydrogels. Chem. Mater. 2017, 29, 9498–9508. 

Barnes, J. C.*; Mirkin, C. A.* Profile of Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, and Bernard L. Feringa, 2016 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 2017, 114, 620–625. 

Patents (at WUSTL)

Barnes, J. C.; Colley, N. D.; Nosiglia, M. A.; Harlan, G.; Tran, S. U.S. Provisional Patent Application 63/093,467. Topologically Elastic Linkers (TELs) for the Incorporation of Mechanical Bonds into Polymeric Materials. Filed: October 19, 2020

Barnes, J. C.; Li, X.; Delawder, A. O.; Li, R. U.S. Patent Application 16/370,316. Compositions of Drug Delivery Agents and Methods of Use Thereof. Filed: March 29, 2019.

Barnes, J. C.; Greene, A. F.; Delawder, A. O.; Liles, K. P. U.S. Patent Application 15/939,515. Actuating Materials and Method of Making and Using the Same. Filed: March 29, 2018.