Telluride School on Theoretical Chemistry

TSRC is the proud home of the biennial Telluride School on Theoretical Chemistry (TSTC), founded in 2009 by Jack Simons, University of Utah Professor of Chemistry. The next school will be held July 19-23, 2021. Use the links below to learn more about TSTC and to access curriculum material from all the past schools.

TSTC General Info
The Telluride School on Theoretical Chemistry
Is a biennial summer school program (next one in summer 2021) held in Telluride, Colorado and facilitated by the Telluride Science Research Center (TSRC). TSTC is the only summer school in country focusing on Theoretical Chemistry. About thirty participants who are competitively selected from the applicant pool are invited to attend and work closely with three or four senior faculty members, plus one or two of the ACS Physical Division Awardees during this one-week intensive program.
The TSRC Program Includes
  • Approximately six-to-eight hours of lectures daily on electronic structures, statistical mechanics, and chemical dynamics
  • Problem solving sessions
  • Outdoor activities in the surrounding mountains
The School is intended for 
  • Recent or soon-to-be-theory Ph.D's who wish to acquire knowledge outside their graduate and postdoctoral experiences
  • Experimental chemists who use theory in their research
  • Faculty at predominantly undergraduate institutions who want to incorporate theory into their classes
  • For most participants, TSTC subsidizes much of the costs of attending the school by contributing substantially to students' lodging and meal expenses
  • TSTC reimburses students for registration fees upon completion of the course
  • As part of the registration fee, TSRC supplies breakfast M-F, snacks during the day, a picnic dinner, and coffee, tea and sodas all day long
  • Students must arrange their own transportation as TSTC does not support transport costs
  • Be sure to bring a laptop as there are none available at TSRC and many of the activities require a computer
  • Bring layered clothing suitable for variable weather and trail boots; Telluride is a casual place.

Message from TSTC Founder, Jack Simons

Hi, this is Jack Simons speaking, and I am addressing you because you have either signed up to attend a Telluride School on Theoretical Chemistry (TSTC; or you may be interested in doing so. I want to explain what these schools are all about and why I founded them in 2008.

Most of you have focused your efforts on problems of current importance within one of the following fields: electronic structure theory, biological molecule or materials simulations, chemical reaction dynamics, or statistical mechanics. You have probably taken introductory graduate level courses covering most of these topics, but your research-level expertise is likely limited to the specific field within which you are currently working.

Largely due to the advent of high speed computing, our field of theoretical chemistry underwent explosive growth between the 1960s and the present, and is having more and more impact within the chemistry, materials science, biology, atmospheric science, and physics communities. I believe this trend will continue during your scientific career, as a result of which you will be presented with an amazing range of opportunities to employ the tools of theory to solve important and exciting problems in many areas of science. However, to do so, I think you will be best served if you build a broader and deeper background than you probably now possess within the areas of theory where you have not yet carried out research-level work. It is primarily to help you begin to build such a firm background that we offer TSTC.

We want those of you working in electronic structure theory to learn, at a level beyond graduate classes, about molecular simulations, reaction dynamics and statistical mechanics so you know, for example, about biomolecule force fields, solvation models, surface hopping methods, tools for sampling rare events, etc. Likewise, we want those of you working on biomolecule simulations to learn about density functional, Hartree-Fock, and coupled-cluster theory, and about conical intersections and surface hopping. That is, we want to provide each of you with an efficient route for learning enough about the other fields of theoretical chemistry that, as opportunities arise in your future career adventures, you will feel confident about delving even more deeply into these areas so you can apply their tools to scientific challenges you want to pursue.

So, the main purpose of TSTC schools is to offer you exposure to Ph.D. level background material in the areas of theory within which you are currently not working. If you want learn more about your specialized area of emphasis within theory, I suggest that you consider attending one of the many Telluride Science Research Center workshops (TSRC; offered each year.

I understand that one intense week of exposure to such subject matter will not bring you to a cutting-edge research level (we intend to expand the TSTC schools to two weeks once we have adequate funding) of knowledge. However, I believe that, if you work hard to assimilate the material offered in TSTC, you can achieve a broadening and deepening of your background that will serve you well in your future research endeavors. I want you to know that I and the other theoretical chemists who have volunteered to teach in TSTC schools care deeply about our discipline and about you as its future leaders. If you attend TSTC, we hope you enjoy your experience, learn a lot, and create networks with other members of theoretical chemistry’s future. We are doing our best to offer you a unique opportunity, and we ask that you do your best to master the material presented at TSTC.

 I wish you the very best in your exciting young career.


Jack Simons

ACS Physical Division Award
The American Chemical Society’s Physical Division Award in Theoretical Chemistry 

When asked to contribute $90,000 toward establishing an on-going funding stream for the Telluride School on Theoretical Chemistry (TSTC), the Physical Chemistry Division of ACS decided to create a new award to honor theoretical chemists who have not yet won an ACS National Award and to tie this new award to TSTC. Each year, the division selects an awardee who is then invited to TSTC where he or she will present a seminar and receive the award from the TSTC Board Chair.

Award Recipients 


No recipients in 2019


David Reichman, Professor of Chemistry at Columbia University

Dave Thirumalai, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin


Horia Metiu, Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Santa Barbara

Douglas Tobias, Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Irvine, received the award "for theoretical studies that have revealed new and unexpected aspects of ions at interfaces and membrane-bound proteins, and their impacts on atmospheric and biological systems.

Gregory A. Voth, Haig P. Papazian Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry and the James Frank Institute at the University of Chicago, has research interests that include multiscale theory and computer simulation of biomolecular and soft matter systems; proton and charge transport processes in chemistry, biology, and material science; and complex liquids and solvation phenomena.

Anna Krylov, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Southern California, works in the area of theoretical and computational quantum chemistry, specifically, theoretical modeling of open-shell and electronically excited species.

James L. Skinner, Joseph O. and Elizabeth S. Hirschfelder Professor of Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin Madison, whose research interests include theoretical chemistry of condensed phases; non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, chemical reaction dynamics; dephasing and relaxation processes; and linear and non-linear spectroscopy.

Kenneth Jordan, Distinguished Professor of Computational Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, whose research is focused on understanding charge accommodation by H-bonded networks, in particular, excess photons and electrons in water, chemical reactions on solid surfaces, and the properties of gas hydrates.

Peter Rossky, Marvin K. Collie-Welch Regents Chair in Chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin. His research at Texas is focused on understanding the underlying molecular events occurring during chemical processes in condensed phases, primarily in liquids and other amorphous condensed phases.

2021 TSTC

2021 Dates: July 19th - 23rd
Michael Feig, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Michigan State University
Timothy Berkelbach, Department of Chemistry, Columbia University

Meeting Description:
The field of theoretical and computational chemistry has traditionally been a key component within physical chemistry and chemical physics. More recently, theoretical chemistry has begun to assume important roles in biological chemistry and materials science as well. Most experimental scientists working in these disciplines have not had the background necessary to gain a working knowledge of theory as it is used in their research disciplines. Because many of them want to make use of theory to interpret their data and to guide their research, they constitute one component of the student body for the proposed schools. In addition, many faculty members who teach undergraduate chemistry, biology, and materials science classes want to incorporate computer modeling into the classroom. The schools would offer them an efficient route for learning the theoretical and computational background needed to do so. Most importantly, the Ph. D. and postdoctoral students entering theoretical and computational chemistry can also benefit. Most of these young peoples' doctoral and postdoctoral work has focused on only a sub-set of theory's main areas (electronic structure, dynamics, statistical mechanics, molecular modeling). Especially if they pursue an academic career, they will be expected to teach classes in a wider range of theoretical topics. Moreover, their research careers are likely to evolve in directions that will require them to become proficient in areas other than where their doctoral and postdoctoral work focused. These Schools offer them an excellent chance to broaden their knowledge and skill sets at an early career stage.

Each TSTC school will involve approximately six to eight hours of lectures on electronic structure theory, dynamics, and statistical mechanics as well as one topical subject that will change from school to school. Poster sessions for participants to describe their interests and problem solving sessions will also be held. The school's endowment covers the registration cost for those applicants who are accepted into the school.

Biophysics -- Prof. Michael Feig (Michigan State Unversity)
Electronic Structure Theory -- Prof. Timothy Berkelbach (Columbia University)
Statistical Mechanics -- Prof. Todd Gingrich (Northwestern University)
Chemical Dynamics -- Prof. Nandini Ananth (Cornell University)

School Venue:

Previous Schools

2019 TSTC

TSTC Organizers:
Suriyanarayanan Vaikuntanathan, Department of Chemistry, University of Chicago
Ignacio Franco, Department of Chemistry, University of Rochester
July 29th-August 2nd, 2019
Telluride Intermediate School, 725 West Colorado Ave Telluride, CO 81435

Statistical Mechanics -- Prof. Suriyanaranyanan Vaikuntanathan (University of Chicago)
Chemical Dynamics -- Prof. Ignacio Franco (Unversity of Rochester)
Biophysics -- Prof. Michael Feig (Michigan State Unversity)
Electronic Structure Theory -- Prof. Timothy Berkelbach (Columbia University)

School Venue:
Telluride Intermediate School
725 West Colorado Ave Telluride CO 81435

Archived presentations, problem sets, reading material, and general information can be found at
Telluride TSTC 2019

2017 TSTC

TSTC Organizers:
Thomas Miller, Department of Chemistry, Caltech,
Joan-Emma Shea, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UC Santa Barbara
July 24th-28th, 2017
Telluride Intermediate School, 725 West Colorado Ave Telluride, CO 81435

  • Electronic structure -- Prof. Troy Van Voorhis (MIT)
  • Statistical mechanics -- Prof. Phillip Geissler (UC Berkeley)
  • Chemical Dynamics -- Prof. Tom Miller (Caltech)
  • Biophysics -- Prof. Joan-Emma Shea (UC Santa Barbara)
  • Supporting Files:




    2015 TSTC

    TSTC Organizers:
    Phillip Geissler, College of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley
    Troy Van Voorhis, Department of Chemistry, MIT
    July 12th-18th, 2015
    Telluride Elementary School, 447 West Columbia Ave Telluride CO 81435

  • Electronic Structure -- Prof. Toru Shiozaki (Northwestern University)
  • Statistical Mechanics -- Prof. Suriyanaranyanan Vaikuntanathan (University of Chicago)
  • Chemical Dynamics -- Prof. Tom Miller (Caltech)
  • Biophysics -- Prof. Joan-Emma Shea (UC Santa Barbara)

  • Archived presentations, problem sets, reading material, and general information can be found at

    Supporting Files:
    tstc_poster_2015_v1 copy-1.pdf

    2013 TSTC

    TSTC Organizer: Edwin L. Sibert, Professor of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison
    July 15th-20th, 2013

  • Electronic Structure Theory-Professor Troy Van Voorhis, MIT
  • Statistical Mechanics-Professor Phillip Geissler, University of California-Berkeley
  • Chemical Dynamics-Professor Edwin Sibert, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • 2012 Awardee Plenary Lecturer: Anna Krylov, University of Southern California Professor of Chemistry
  • 2013 Awardee Plenary Lecturer: Gregory A. Voth, Haig P. Papazian Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry and the James Frank Institute at the University of Chicago
  • Futher details about the 2013 TSTC summer school will be ongoing

  • 2011 TSTC

    TSTC Organizer: Professor Rigoberto Hernandez, Georgia Institute of Technology
    July 10th-16th, 2011

    • 2010 Awardee Plenary Lecturer: Professor Ken Jordan, University of Pittsburgh
    • 2011 Awardee Plenary Lecturer: Professor James Skinner, Univeristy of Wisconsin
    • Electronic Structure Theory: Professor Martin Head-Gordon
    • Statistical Mechanics- Professor Rigoberto Hernandez, Georgia Institute of Technology
    • Chemical Dyanmics- Professor Ned Sibert, Univeristy of Wisconsin-Madison
    • Click here for further details about the 2011 TSTC Summer School

    2009 TSTC

    TSTC Organizer: Jack Simons, Univeristy of Utah
    July 19th-25th, 2009

    • Special Plenary Session-Professor Peter Rosskey, Univeristy of Texas-Austin,
    • Electronic Structure Theory-Professor Jack Simons, University of Utah
    • Chemical Dynamics-Professor John Tully, Yale University
    • Statistical Mechanics-Professor Rigoberto Hernandez, Geogia Tech
    • Nanomaterials and Molecular Electronics-Professor Geoff Hutchinson, University of Pittsburgh
    • Click here for further details about the 2009 TSTC Summer School

    Application deadline: May 15, 2021

    Application period not currently active. For information, email

    Telluride Science Research Center
    Post Office Box 2429, Telluride CO 81435
    Tel: + 970.708.4426
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