Molecular Modeling of Elasticity of Spider Silk and Related Biopolymers (TA / FA)

In this project, the aim is to understand quantitatively the molecular elasticity of biopolymers with potential engineering applications. The first example is Spider Dragline Silk, which may be several times stronger than steel (after normalizing the density). The work involves experimental, computational and theoretical analyses of the molecular structure of the biopolymer system.

Accurate Molecular Models for Real Polymers (TA/FA)

We develop useable, closed form, but accurate molecular models as well as elasticity relationships for real polymers, incorporating structural aspects.

The applications include synthetic as well as high performance Bio-sourced polymers.

Open problems in evolutionary biology (experiments and/or theory)

Evolution of life over the last >3.5 billion years has shaped the life forms that we presently see on the planet. Developments in genome sequencing and molecular biology allow us to perform evolutionary experiments in lab, and see in real time, how environment shapes changes in a population. Understanding this relationship between the environment and the changes that take place in the DNA of an organism is the focus of our lab's research. We perform theory and also perform experiments (using yeast and bacteria) to answer questions of interest.