Research

Home / Research

Molecular Solutions to Real-Life Challenges

ASU has a long history of high visibility, interdisciplinary research that stretched the traditional boundaries of chemistry and biochemistry.

Molecular science has now matured to the point that much of our current research can be cast in the context of real-life challenges.  We work on molecular-based solutions to problems in energy, health and the environment, we build nanostructures for electronics and sensing. We are also deepening our molecular understanding of  biological systems, and using complex molecular simulations and the highest resolution spectroscopies and single molecule techniques to extend basic molecular science.

This approach reflects the intellectual interests of our faculty, trains the next generation of scientists in a use-inspired environment, and acknowledges the responsibility of contemporary science to tackle societally relevant challenges.

Research Highlights  

 

 
  • High Visibility Publications

  • Seeing Nature's Signals Up Close

  • DNA Origami Nanostructures

  • Towards an Artificial Leaf

  • Processing Pathways for Non-coding RNA

  • Longer Life Cycle Batteries

  • Simple Low-cost Test for Zika

Graduate Research Opportunities

Graduate students in the School of Molecular Sciences are involved in a wide range of research activities, from projects that expand fundamental molecular science to mission-based projects that transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries. Our students are finding molecular solutions to real-life problems.

These research experiences provide our students with a training that will enable them to be successful in a scientific world where the boundaries between traditional disciplines are rapidly disappearing, and that will be relevant going into the future.

 

Molecular Assembly, Materials and Nanoscience

ASU students and faculty are building designer electronic materials with atomic level precision, are constructing molecular level logic devices, and complex nanostructures based on molecular origami, that self-assemble with atomic level control of function, and novel materials for energy conversion and storage.  We are leaders in research on molecular processes in solid and disordered states and in connecting geological materials to molecular processes.

Biological Molecular Science

Structural biology is being revolutionized at ASU using femtosecond nanocrystallography.  Our faculty and students are defining the roles of enzymes and protein complexes with biomolecules that regulate transcription, translation, post-translational modification and energy and proton flow in DNA, in membranes and within cells. We also study the molecular basis of biology in geology and even astronomy.

Molecular Understanding of Disease, Diagnosis and Therapeutics

ASU is at the forefront in describing the molecular basis of disease and critical protein/drug interactions with atomic-scale resolution. We are developing sensors for the early detection of disease, using biophysics and novel analytics for diagnosis diagnose at the atom, molecule and cell level, designing new drugs that target specific metabolic pathways, and are building high-throughout diagnostic arrays for personalized medicine.

Molecular Energy and Catalysis

ASU researchers are world leaders in photosynthesis research and in the development of molecular solutions for energy capture, storage and conversion. We build bio-inspired systems that use light to synthesize ATP and split water, and study catalysts that generate clean fuels.  We develop novel materials for battery, fuel cell and energy production technologies, and even study energy flow in geologic and biologic systems that do not rely on photosynthesis. 

Environmental Molecular and Materials Science

We study environmental molecular processes to protect the earths' most valuable resources, air and water.  ASU has a strong history in connecting chemistry, biochemistry and geology.  We define the materials chemistry of the geosphere, and explore new ways of performing chemical reactions inspired by geomimicry, and how chemistry, biology and geology sustain life on earth, and possibly beyond.

 

Fundamental Molecular Science

ASU faculty and students are advancing the theory and practice of fundamental molecular science, using state-of-the-art spectroscopy, single-molecule techniques and computational methods.  The molecular properties of condensed matter and the fundamental principles of chemical reactivity are being defined experimentally and computationally.

 

James Allen
Professor

Protein structure and function, X-Ray crystallography, photosynthesis, bacterial cofactors

Ariel Anbar
President's Professor

Earth Surface Chemistry, Mass Spectrometry, Isotopic Composition Studies, Biogeochemistry

Charles Angell
Regents' Professor

Liquid structure, transport properties, supercooled liquids, glass transitions, electrolytes and polymers for battery applications

Chad Borges
Assistant Professor

Analytical biochemistry, mass spectrometry, protein posttranslational modifications, disease markers

Peter Buseck
Regents' Professor

Atmospheric Chemistry, Aerosols, Meteorites, Solid-State geochemistry, Cosmochemistry, Electron Microscopy

Daniel Buttry
Professor

Battery and fuel cell materials, Electrochemistry, Corrosion, Interfacial chemistry

Julian Chen
Professor

Structure, function and evolution of ribonucleoprotein complexes, RNA-protein interactions, telomerase biogenesis and mechanism

Po-Lin Chiu
Assistant Professor

electron microscopy, cryo-EM, electron crystallography, membrane protein, structural biology, signal processing, image processing

Andrew Chizmeshya
Associate Professor

Computational Solid State Chemistry, Semiconductor Simulation, Vibrational and Optical Properties of Solids, Physisorption, Carbon Sequestration

Petra Fromme
Regents' Professor, Paul V Galvin Professor

Structural biochemistry and biophysics, membrane proteins, X-Ray crystallography, photosynthesis, molecular biology

Giovanna Ghirlanda
Professor

De-novo protein design and engineering, enzyme mechanisms, protein structure

Ian Gould
President's Professor and Associate Director of Outreach, Online and Communications

Photochemistry, mechanistic organic chemistry, organic geochemistry

Alexander Green
Assistant Professor

Alexander Green Assistant Professor Synthetic biology, Nanomaterials, Molecular computation, RNA regulation, Nucleic acid directed self-assembly, Biosensing, Nanoelectronics

Jia Guo
Assistant Professor

Novel fluorescent probes, single cell genomics and proteomics, cancer biology, neuroscience

Hilairy Hartnett
Associate Professor

Aqueous Geochemistry, Biogeochemistry, Oceanography, Carbon Cycle Research, Environmental Chemistry

Mark Hayes
Professor

Microfluidics, bioassays, microchip devices, Noninvasive sampling, materials and surface chemistry

Sidney Hecht
Professor

Improved diagnoses and treatments for diseases caused by impaired energy metabolism

Pierre Herckes
Professor

Environmental Chemistry, Atmospheric Chemistry, Aerosol and Cloud Chemistry, Environmental Pollution, Analytical Chemistry

Anne Jones
Associate Professor and Associate Director of Academic Affairs

Bioinorganic chemistry, electrochemistry, hydrogenases, de novo protein design and engineering, redox enzyme mechanisms, alternative energy generation

John Kouvetakis
Professor

Solid-state inorganic chemistry, thin film heterostructures, nanoscale devices, microelectronics

Joshua LaBaer
Professor, and Executive Director, Biodesign Institute

Proteomics, biomarkers, cancer, diagnostics, protein arrays

Marcia Levitus
Associate Professor

Biophysical chemistry, photophysics, single-molecule fluorescence, DNA-protein dynamics

Stuart Lindsay
Regents' Professor

Scanning probe microscopy, molecular electronics, molecular biophysics, nano-scale self-assembly

Yan Liu
Associate Professor

Nanoparticles synthesis and functionalization DNA directed self-assembly Multi-component complex structure

Wei Liu
Assistant Professor

Biophysics, Drug Design, X-Ray Crystallography, G Protein–Coupled Receptors (GPCRs), Membrane Proteins, Lipidic Cubic Phase (LCP), Protein-Protein Interactions/Complexes, Protein Functions

Dmitry Matyushov

Theoretical chemistry, condensed media, optical spectroscopy, electron transfer, proteins, phase and glass transition

Jeremy Mills
Assistant Professor

Protein Engineering, Computational Protein Design, Unnatural Amino Acids, Directed Evolution

Ana Moore
Regents' Professor

Synthetic organic chemistry, carotenoids, photosynthesis, photochemistry

Thomas Moore
Regents' Professor

Photosynthesis, protonmotive force, proton and electron transfer, photochemistry, photobiology, bioenergy, biocatalysis, sustainable energy, dye sensitized semiconductors

Gary Moore
Assistant Professor

Organic chemistry, materials chemistry, solar energy transduction, photocatalysis, molecular electronics, chemical sensing, proton coupled electron transfer

Vladimiro Mujica
Professor

Theoretical chemistry, nanoscience, electron transfer, molecular conductance, nanomagnetism, chirality

George Pettit
Regents' Professor

Medicinal Chemistry, chemistry of natural products, discovery of new anti-cancer and anti-infective drugs for human cancer treatment

William Petuskey
Professor

Ceramics, glasses, wide band-gap semiconductors, electronic materials, high temperature chemistry

Steve Presse
Associate Professor

Bacterial dynamics Single molecule Spectroscopy and Imaging analysis Stochastic processes Bayesian inference

Kevin Redding
Professor

Photosynthetic electron transfer, protein-cofactor interactions, membrane protein degradation, re-engineering photosynthesis for energy and bioremediation

Ranko Richert
Professor

Dynamics of Liquids, Glass Transition, Dynamic Heterogeneity, Confinement Effects

Alexandra Ros
Associate Professor

Micro and nanofluidics Bioanalytics, Single cell analysis, Biomolecule migration mechanisms

Scott Sayres

Ultrafast Lasers, Electron Dynamics, XUV Spectroscopy, Molecular Clusters

Don Seo
Professor

Inorganic solids, sustainable materials chemistry, porous materials, hierarchical nanostructures, hybrid materials, exploration of new synthetic methods, energy production, water purification, environmental remediations

Everett Shock
Professor

Biogeochemistry, Thermodynamic Modeling, Microbial Processes, Analytical Methods

Abhishek Singharoy

Molecular dynamics simulations, Cryo-electron microscopy, X-ray crystallography, hybrid modeling

Timothy Steimle
Professor

Ultra-high resolution spectroscopy, molecular beams, transition metal complexes, laser spectroscopy, computational chemistry

Nicholas Stephanopoulos
Assistant Professor

Protein- and peptide-DNA nanotechnology, organic bioconjugation chemistry, self-assembly, nano-machines and devices, materials for biology and medicine

Ryan Trovitch
Assistant Professor

Organometallic and Inorganic Chemistry, Homogeneous Catalysis, Small Molecule Activation, Green Chemistry, Reaction Mechanisms, Organic Synthesis

Wade Van Horn
Associate Professor

Membrane proteins, Solution NMR, Structural biology, Biophysical Chemistry, Enzymology, Electrophysiology, Computational structural biology, Ion channels, Membrane enzymes

Rebekka Wachter
Professor

Protein post-translational modifications, Macromolecular X-ray crystallography, Protein-based chromophores, Enzyme mechanisms

Xu Wang
Associate Professor

Biochemistry, NMR, protein, carbohydrate, glycan, glycosaminoglycan, protein structure, protein-carbohydrate interactions

Peter Williams
Professor

Mass spectrometry, MALDI, DNA, sequencing, DNA Arrays

George Wolf
Associate Professor

High pressure chemistry, phase transitions, spectroscopy, materials chemistry

Neal Woodbury
Professor and Director

Photosynthesis, biophysics, DNA/protein complexes, nucleosomes, optically directed molecular evolution

Hao Yan
Milton D. Glick Distinguished Professor

Design and assembly of biologically inspired nanomaterials, DNA nanostructures, nanoelectronics, biomolecular imaging

Jeffery Yarger
Professor

Solid-state NMR and MRI, soft matter research, disordered materials, biopolymers, battery and fuel cell materials, polyamorphism, nano-materials, high-pressure chemistry, quantum computation, laser scattering spectroscopy, neutron, electron and xray diffraction of amorphous materials