Research Interests of the Biochemistry Major

Investigative research lies at the heart of all of the experimental sciences. In chemistry, research can take many forms, from synthesizing compounds to building computational models or gathering and analyzing data using a wide variety of instruments and techniques. If you are interested in learning more about what chemists really do, joining a research group and taking on an independent research project is an excellent place to start!

 Chem/Biochem Faculty  Biology Faculty
Grilley: Biochemistry
Grunwald
: Biochemistry
Loh: Biophysical
Weaver: Biochemistry
Cooper: Molecular Biology
Miskowski: Cell Biology

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Faculty

Dr. Dan Grilley
The goal of my research is to understand in mechanistic detail how the chemical properties of DNA affect its structure and thus its function inside of living cells. Specifically, my research focuses on two related problems, how do the chemical properties of DNA affect its stiffness, and how does that stiffness affect how DNA is compacted to fit inside a cell. Students interested in doing research at the interface of chemistry, biology, and physics are encouraged to contact me.

Dr. Sandy Grunwald, Biochemistry
My research program focuses on the study of the relationship between metalloproteins. The current project is characterizing the relationship between the iron-storage protein, ferritin, and iron-containing protein, nitrogenase, in the nitrogen-fixing bacterium Azotobacter vinelandii. Since I use bacteria as a model system to study meltaaloproteins, this project is well-suited for students interested in biochemistry or microbiology. E-mail me for additional information.

Dr. Adrienne Loh, Biophysical Chemistry
My research program is centered on peptide and protein structure and dynamics. The way that a given protein functions is governed by its shape (its structure) and the way that it moves (its dynamics). We are using short helical peptides as models of large proteins. Students in my group have the opportunity to synthesize the molecules of interest, then characterize the structure and flexibility of their peptides using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. For further information, e-mail me, stop by my office, 4016 Cowley Hall.

Dr. Todd Weaver, Biochemistry
Research in my laboratory is focused in two main areas. The first area of research uses the hemolysin system from Proteus mirabilis to characterize the activation of bacterial toxins during pore formation. The overall goal of this project aims to characterize the structural differences between the secreted (active) and non-secreted (inactive) forms of hemolysin A. The second area of research aims to characterize the recruitment of low-barrier hydrogen bonds during enzyme catalysis. We have numerous mutant forms of fumarase C and in the process of collecting steady-state kinetic and X-ray diffraction data on each form. E-mail me for additional information.

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Department of Biology Faculty

Dr. Scott Cooper, Molecular Biology
My research focuses on using molecular techniques to understand the mechanism by which anticoagulants inhibit blood clotting. To do this we mutate the gene for human antithrombin and then express these proteins in insect cells. We then purify the proteins and assay them to see how the changes we have introduced change the activity of the inhibitor. Eventually this could lead to the development of therapeutic drugs. E-mail me for more information.

Dr. Jennifer Miskowski, Cell Biology
My research program focuses on the molecular basis of development in Caenorhabditis elegans, a microscopic soil nematode that serves as a model organism. Many of the developmental processes that C. elegans undergoes are analogous to processes in higher organisms, like humans. In particular, my lab is interested in proteins that are necessary for proper formation and function of complex organs. In addition to understanding how multicellular organisms develop, we hope to learn how fundamental cellular processes are altered to cause human disease. E-mail me for additional information.

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