Postdoc Spotlight

Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ
Sarah Hitchcock-DeGregori Lab






Q: What field is your PhD? How did you specialize in biophysics?

I received my PhD from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Washington, Seattle, in Professor Niels Andersen’s lab. My project involved the design and characterization of mutants of a 20-residue miniprotein, “Trpcage,” to determine the interactions that play an important role in its folding and stabilization, using biophysical techniques including NMR and CD spectroscopy.

Q: What initially attracted you to the field?

My PhD project sparked my interest in the molecular mechanisms underlying the folding, stability, and function of proteins and the usefulness of biophysical methods to study these aspects ofprotein behavior.

Q: What is your current research project?

In my current project, we applied a molecular evolution approach to determine the structural basis for universal functions of tropomyosin, an actin binding protein. My ongoing research efforts are towards understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the binding and regulation of actin and myosin in muscle and cytoskeleton by tropomyosin.

Q: What skills and experiences have you gained/do you hope to gain from your postdoc position?

In addition to learning new research methods such as molecular evolution based analysis of proteins, I had the opportunity to independently mentor undergraduate students. These opportunities have been invaluable in preparing me for a career as an independent researcher. I also have learned a lot from my mentor, Professor Sarah Hitchcock-DeGregori, and am immensely grateful to her for her guidance and support.

Q: Tell us about a great experience or opportunity you’ve had in the past year?

I received the Dean’s Research Award for Best Publication by a Postdoctoral Fellow at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School for 2012. It was very encouraging and satisfying to receive this recognition. I also had publications in two top-tier journals in the past year, which was very exciting.

Q: What do you hope the next step in your career path will be?

I am currently applying for faculty positions where I can continue with my research as well as be involved in undergraduate and graduate education.

Q: Why did you join the Biophysical Society?

The Biophysical Society Meetings provide a tremendous opportunity to present my work amongst my peers as well as interact with researchers from all over the world and from many different fields.

Q: If you were not a biophysicist, what would you be?

It is very hard to imagine being anything but a biophysicist but if not a biophysicist I would probably be an organic chemist.

August 2013 Table of Contents