Research

I am fascinated by how biological macromolecules (DNA, RNA, and proteins) adopt their 3-dimensional shapes, make specific intercations, can deform under external forces and torques, and undergo conformational transitions to carry out the biological functions they have evolved to do. In my research, I use a combination of single molecule techniques, X-ray scattering, wet lab biochemistry, and computer simulations to provide insights into the structure and mechanisms of these biological machines. We are in the process of setting up a more comprehensive research page; for the time being, here is a basic overview cover some of the research techniques used in my lab. Details of this work can be found on the Publications page. 



Magnetic tweezers are a powerful technique to apply both forces and torques to individual macromolecules. In the past years, I have used magnetic tweezers to study the mechanical properties of double-stranded DNA and RNA, to investigate their conformational transitions under external forces and torques, and to probe their interactions with DNA processing enzymes and small-molecule drugs. In addition, I have been involved in the development of novel tweezers that can directly measure torque (so-called magnetic torque tweezers, MTT) and directly observe changes in the twist of nucleic acid tethers (termed freely-orbiting magnetic tweezers or FOMT).





Schematic of different magnetic tweezers set ups.


Together with Sebastian Doniach at Stanford, I have extensively used small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) to look at RNAs, proteins, and membrane protein-detergent complexes. A lot of it is published, please see the Publications page.


Schematic of a SAXS experiment.


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