/ Chemistry Department

Krueger Research Group

Biophysical Studies Using Laser Spectroscopy and Computational Modeling

In my lab we use short-pulse lasers, single-molecule miscroscopes and computers to try to understand the details that drive the functions of proteins and other biological molecules. The short pulses of laser light (a few tens of picoseconds - 1 picosecond = 1 x 10-12s) allow us to spectroscopically observe changes in protein structures while they are occurring and sophisticated computational methods allow us to model the same proteins with atomic detail. Students will have the flexibility to work with both the spectroscopic and computational arms of my lab, or to specialize in either. All researchers in my laboratory will be utilizing physical chemical methods to understand how efficient biological function is achieved as well as how biological misfunction (i.e., disease) occurs.

The primary focus of my lab is the development of a new methodology that combines computational modeling with time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy and molecular biology. We are utilizing peptides, short stands of DNA, and a small protein called lysozyme as our model systems, and are investigating the behavior of a number of different fluorescent probes. The different probes are attached through a combination of chemical and genetic methods, which are mainly performed at Hope College. Picosecond laser spectroscopy is performed in my laboratory and single-molecule experiments are carried out by my students in a collaborator's lab at The Univesity of Chicago. Computational modeling is performed by my students using the Computational Science & Modeling Laboratory at Hope College as well as supercomputer time from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois.

Two other projects are entirely computational. One involves modeling the interaction of a solute with the surrounding solvent. We utilize a computational method that employs both classical mechanics and quantum mechanics such that we can simulate a wide variety of spectroscopic results. These are extremely challenging calculations performed almost entirely at the NCSA. The other computational project seeks to describe the behavior of novel silicone polymers created in Dr. Mike Silver's lab at Hope College. These polymers display unique sidechain behavior, which we seek to understand through classical simulations.