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Biological Physics

Dr. Aihua Xie leads an active research group that studies the fundamental principles of proteins. Proteins by nature are nanoparticles, with well designed biological functions. Proteins perform an enormous range of roles in cells such as manufacturers, communicators, regulators, and commanders that keep cells alive, organized, healthy, and active. Her group employs a broad range of experimental, computational, and biochemical techniques for their research, encompassing tunable nanosecond lasers, time-resolved nanosecond and microsecond Fourier transformed infrared spectroscopy, microlithographically fabricated microflow device, infrared microscopic spectroscopy, and density function based quantum calculations of complex biomolecules.

Dr. Donghua Zhou works in an exciting new field, namely Biomolecular Solid-State NMR. Recent instrument and methodology developments have established solid-state NMR as a novel structural biophysics tool for proteins and protein complexes in conditions that are challenging to conventional methods. We are interested in structural studies on membrane proteins and protein aggregates involved in human health. Knowing protein structures is critical to the understanding of protein biological functions and provides foundation for structure-based drug design. We are working on several projects in collaboration with biological scientists in Departments of Biochemistry, Animal Science, Microbiology, and Physiology. In addition to working on interdisciplinary research projects, our research group has weekly joint group meetings with several other groups having common interests in protein structure and function. Students have the opportunity to make contribution to new NMR methodologies and biological issues of fundamental importance.

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