My research focus is the development of new methods of analysis in structural biology. My lab uses tools such as X-ray crystallography and small angle scattering to probe the structure and dynamics of biological macromolecules such as proteins and nucleic acids. Our approaches include developing new computational algorithms to analyze data and using cutting edge technologies such as X-ray free electron lasers (XFELs) to collect data on ultrafast time-scales. By developing these tools, we can build pictures and movies of biological molecules to help understand how they perform their functions in the cell. These insights not only help drive advancements in basic science but also help in the design of new drugs for treating diseases.
Education and Training:
PhD, Structural and Computational Biology, University at Buffalo (2013)
BS, Mathematical Physics, University at Buffalo, Magna Cum Laude (2007)
Assistant Professor, Structural Biology, University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (2020-present)
Research Assistant Professor, Structural Biology, University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (2018–2020)
Research Scientist, BioXFEL, University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (2014–2018)
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Structural Biology, Hauptman-Woodward Institute (2013–2014)
Awards and Honors:
Sidhu Award for Significant Contributions to the Science of Crystallography and/or Diffraction (2013)
2013 Dean’s Distinguished Thesis Award (2013)
Margaret C. Etter Student Lecturer Award (2011)
Honorable Mention Recipient, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (2009)
Iterative phasing for solution scattering: We develop algorithms that solve the phase problem for solution scattering. This provides 3D electron density maps from the 1D solution scattering profiles, giving insights into particle shape at low-resolution.
Serial crystallography: Serial crystallography is a type of X-ray crystallography technique that uses X-rays to take diffraction snapshots of hundreds of thousands of microcrystals in succession to build up a complete 3D diffraction pattern. This technique is most often done with X-ray free electron lasers, but can also be done with synchrotrons. We often perform serial crystallography experiments for both soluble and membrane proteins. This is one of the few approaches that is capable of determining the high-resolution structures of membrane proteins and is amenable to time-resolved studies.
Solution Scattering: We use solution scattering to probe the low-resolution structure of macromolecules in aqueous solution. These data are highly complementary to other structural techniques that provide high-resolution data such as X-ray crystallography, NMR and cryoEM.
Time-resolved X-ray scattering: We use ultrafast time-resolved X-ray scattering with X-ray free electron lasers to probe the dynamic motions of biological macromolecules. Currently we study visual rhodopsin, the core light sensing protein triggering the process of vision in humans.
X-ray crystallography: We routinely employ X-ray crystallography for probing the atomic scale 3D structures of biological macromolecules. We use high-throughput crystallization screening, optimization and X-ray diffraction at synchrotrons and XFELs.
XFEL Data Reduction and Analysis: We develop algorithms for data reduction of large data sets (>100 TB) generated by X-ray free electron lasers for both serial crystallography and solution scattering. We regularly provide data analysis support to dozens of research groups (internal and external to BioXFEL), including data reduction, analysis, modeling and interpretation.
Center for Computational Research (CCR)
UB 2020 Strategic Strengths:
Molecular Recognition in Biological Systems and Bioinformatics
Grants and Sponsored Research:
October 2013–September 2023 Biology with X-ray free electron lasers National Science Foundation Role: Co-Investigator $50,000,000
August 2019–July 2023 High-resolution molecular recognition of ligands using solution X-ray scattering National Institutes of Health Role: Principal Investigator $1,333,637
November 2019–October 2022 Mid-scale RI-1 (M1:DP): Compact X-ray Free-Electron Laser Project National Science Foundation Role: Contributor $4,765,713
May 2020–July 2021 MRI: Acquisition of a femtosecond laser system for time-resolved studies using CXLS National Science Foundation Role: Contributor
August 2018–July 2021 Light-Induced Protein Quake of Visual Rhodopsin Investigated by Femtosecond Time-Resolved X-Ray Scattering National Science Foundation Role: Co-Principal Investigator $800,000
May 2020 RAPID: High-resolution structure determination of Coronavirus ligands by high-throughput WAXS National Science Foundation Role: Co-Principal Investigator $200,000
DENSS DENSS (DENsity from Solution Scattering) is a software program for calculating 3D density maps from solution scattering data