Develop and Apply Theoretical and Computational Methods to Study the Structure, Dynamics and Mechanisms of RNA Molecules


Research Area:  Molecular biophysics, theoretical and computational chemistry

Project Description

Molecules of RNA have recently come into the spotlight, due to recent discoveries of the breadth of their biological roles that range from acting as a messenger of the genetic code, to performing important regulatory functions and acting as a catalyst for complex chemical transformations, including peptide synthesis.  My group develops and applies theoretical and computational methods to study the structure, dynamics and mechanisms of RNA molecules in order to understand their fundamental biophysical properties.  These properties allow us to build up a basic understanding of the biological function of RNA molecules, and gain new insight that may guide the design of future biotechnology.  In particular, my group performs quantum chemical calculations and high-level molecular dynamics simulations whereby the molecules are able to change conformations, interact with other molecules and even react, in a realistic solvated environment, like that encountered in a laboratory, or even in a cell.  These simulations are validated against experiments, such as X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, kinetic isotope measurements and other experiments performed by our collaborators.  Ultimately, the detail afforded by computer simulations provide a wealth of atomic-level detail that cannot be observed directly by any experiment.

Qualifications

General Chemistry (2 semesters), General Physics (2 semesters) and Computational Chemistry (1 semester) required, and two semesters of Physical Chemistry is strongly encouraged.

GPA:  3.5-4.0

Course Experience: Programming experience, particularly Python, is encouraged, as well as a working knowledge of Linux operating system.

Current Undergraduate Researchers

None.

Publications with Undergraduate Co-authors

None since coming to Rutgers fall of 2010.

Research Area: 
Theory