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Associate Vice President for Research CoS
  • 765-494-4922
  • HOCK 133

Associated website(s): Markey Center for Structural Biology , PULSe - Interdisciplinary Life Science , Publications


(Structural molecular biology; biochemistry) Protein structure and function; X-ray crystallography; metalloenzymes; biodegradation of PCBs and related compounds.


Our research is in structural biology, a field that lies at the interface between molecular biology, biochemistry, and biophysics. We study relationships between the three-dimensional structures of proteins and their functions at atomic resolution through the application of X-ray crystallography in combination with other biophysical and biochemical methods. We focus on metalloenzymes because of their special abilities to catalyze difficult reactions. One project targets enzymes involved in the biodegradation of aromatic compounds, a process that has potential applications in the bioremediation of many deleterious pollutants. For example, we study several enzymes from a bacterial pathway that has a partially developed ability to degrade polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs. These notorious, man-made chemicals have the potential to promote cancer and adversely affect neural development. They also contaminate the soils, rivers, and lakes of Indiana and other manufacturing states, as well as many other locations throughout the world. By analyzing the structure and function of enzymes that can partially degrade PCBs we contribute to an international effort to develop a safe process that can be used to eliminate PCBs from storage sites and the environment. In addition, some of the enzymes we study have applications in biotechnology, such as in the synthesis of drugs and other chemicals. Understanding how the enzymes work also advances these applications.


Ph.D., California, San Diego, 1982

Other Activities

Professional Organizations:

  • American Crystallographic Association
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Chemical Society
  • Society of Biological Inorganic Chemistry
  • Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans
  • International Union of Crystallography
  • Phi Beta Kappa

Other Professional Service:

  • Member, Big Ten Conference Legislative Review Committee
  • Faculty Athletics Representative, Big 10 Conf. & NCAA (2003-2008)
  • External Advisory Committee for the BioCAT Sector, Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory, 2000-present; Chair 2003-present
  • Director, Shared Resource for Macromolecular Crystallography (Cancer Center), 1998-
  • Director, NIGMS Institutional Graduate Training Program in Molecular Biophysics

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