B.A., Grinnell College; Ph.D., California Institute of Technology
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Uses experiments and computation to study membrane proteins; teaches biochemistry, introductory chemistry and courses in computational modeling.
My lab investigates proteins associated with the cell membrane with a focus on protein•lipid interactions. Our primary project concerns histone-derived antimicrobial peptides (HDAPs). While many HDAPs have been isolated from natural sources, relatively little is known about their mode of action on the molecular level. We use molecular dynamics simulations and a variety of experimental methods to investigate the structure-function relationships of these peptides and design novel HDAPs. Another project investigates the lipid binding interactions of the plant protein Patellin1 in collaboration with Kaye Peterman (Biological Sciences) and Mala Radhakrishnan (Chemistry). I also continue research on bacterial ion channels that I began as a graduate student. Many of those studies on ion channels have been in collaboration with Joshua Maurer (Washington Univeristy St. Louis). One of the best parts of my position at Wellesley is the ability to collaborate with talented undergraduates, and since arriving at Wellesley in 2004 I have mentored over 50 research students in my lab. These students have made central contributions to my research, and many of them are co-authors on journal articles. Several students from Framingham High School have also worked in my lab through the summer research program. This work has been funded by external awards from the National Institutes of Health and Research Corporation, and I was selected as a Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar in 2011.
I primarily teach courses in biochemistry and introductory chemistry at Wellesley. In these courses, I place a particular emphasis on fostering student group work and increasing student exposure to research methods and data analysis. One particular interest of mine is incorporating computational modeling methods throughout the curriculum. To this end, I developed a series of computer lab activities for the core biochemistry courses. In addition, I have taught an upper-level courses on computational chemistry, often with a focus on the molecular modeling of biochemical systems. An article describing some of the computational activities used in these course was published in BAMBED, and these activities can be downloaded from my lab website. It was a very pleasant surprise to receive the Pinanski Prize in Teaching from the college in 2009.
Currently, I am serving as the Director of Wellesley's Program in Biological Chemistry as well as on the Trustee Committee for Academic Affairs and the Faculty Benefits Committee. In recent years, I also have been involved with the Wellesley community through working with the Agenda Committee (co-chair 11-12), the Medical Professions Advisory Committee, the Ruhlman committee, the Junior Faculty Research Seminar series and as the president and vice-president of the Wellesley Sigma Xi chapter. I regularly review articles for a number of journals (e.g. PNAS, the Biophysical Journal, FEBS Letters, FEBS Journal, and Peptides) and have reviewed grant proposals for various agencies, including Research Corporation and the Netherland Organization for Scientific Research.
Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my wife, Julia Prentice, a health services researcher for the Department of Veterans Affairs, and our two wonderful (in my clearly objective opinion) children. Whenever possible, I love to catch live music, with a particular affinity for jazz and Americana/folk. Since coming to Wellesley, I have worked to overcome some of the main disadvantages of moving from LA: I confront the unfavorable winter weather by getting outside as much as possible in the admittedly beautiful New England summers, and I stay up a bit late to catch Dodgers games on the West Coast.
For more information on my research, please visit the Elmore Lab website.