Georgia Tech Faculty Award for Academic Outreach, 2013; Georgia Tech College of Science Faculty Mentor Award, 2013; Petit Institute "Above and Beyond" Award, 2012 ; Sigma Xi, Best Thesis of the Year from Georgia Tech, 2009 (Student: Chiaolong Hsiao) ; Sigma Xi, Best Paper of the Year from Georgia Tech, 1997; National Science Foundation, CAREER Award, 1995-1998 ; Medical Foundation/Charles A. King Trust, Postdoctoral Fellow, 1991-1992 ; National Institutes of Health, Postdoctoral Fellow, 1989-1991 ; American Cancer Society, Postdoctoral Fellow, 1987-1988 ; Phi Lambda Upsilon, Honorary... (read more)
We study folding and structure of RNA and DNA as modulated by sequence, covalent damage, anti-cancer drugs, proteins, other nucleic acid molecules. The oldest assembly in biology is the ribosome, which is a primary focus of our efforts. Ancient ribosomal structure and function, from beyond the root of the tree of life, can be inferred from extant structure/function combined with phylogeny, evolutionary theory, biophysical chemistry, bioinformatics and molecular biology. We use all of these approaches to construct models of ancient ribosomes, which we then study by biochemical methods. Three-dimensional structure, being more conserved over evolutionary time than sequence, offers some of the most important guideposts in our journeys down the base of the tree of life.