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Physical concepts governing the structure and function of biological macromolecules; general properties, spatial structure, energy levels, dynamics and functions, and relation to other complex physical systems such as glasses; recent research in biomolecular physics; physical techniques and concepts from theoretical physics emphasized.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Klaus Schulten is a leader in the field of computational biophysics, having devoted over 40 years to establishing the physical mechanisms underlying processes and organization in living systems from the atomic to the organism scale. Schulten is a strong proponent of the use of simulations as a "computational microscope", to augment experimental research, and to lead to discoveries that could not be made through experiments so far. The molecular dynamics and structure analysis programs NAMD and VMD, born and continuously developed in his group, are used today by many thousands of researchers across the world. Schulten contributed key discoveries to several areas of biological physics: from quantum biology of vision, photosynthesis, and animal navigation to ion channels employed in neural signaling and to neural network organization of brain function; from mechanically gated channel proteins to muscle protein mechanics; from mathematical physics of non-equilibrium processes to numerical mathematics of the classical many-body problem. Schulten believes strongly in the importance of educating the next generation of scientists, having graduated 80 PhD students so far, many today in distinguished academic positions. He developed new courses and textbooks, and organizes a popular series of hands-on training workshops in which he has trained, in small groups, over 1,000 young scientists.
Professor Taekjip Ha received his Ph.D. in Physics in 1996, from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to joining the Physics faculty at the University of Illinois in August 2000, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (1997) and a postdoctoral research associate in Steven Chu's laboratory in the Department of Physics at Stanford University (1998-2000). He was named 2001 Searle scholar. In 2005, Dr. Ha was named an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In 2008, Dr. Ha was selected by the National Science Foundation to receive a grant to establish and co-direct the Center for the Physics of Living Cells at the University of Illinois.
Professor Ha has achieved many "firsts" in experimental biological physics--the first dectection of dipole-dipole interaction (fluorescence resonance energy transfer, or FRET) between two single molecules; the first observation of "quantum jumps" of single molecules at room temperature; the first detection of the rotation of single molecules; and the first detection of enzyme conformational changes via single-molecule FRET. His most recent work, using single-molecule measurements to understand protein-DNA interactions and enzyme dynamics, has led him to develop novel optical techniques, fluid-handling systems, and surface preparations.
Researchers should cite this work as follows:
Klaus Schulten; Taekjip Ha (2013), "[Illinois] Physics 550: Biomolecular Physics," https://nanohub.org/resources/19299.