Ph.D. Positions in Biophysical Chemistry/Structural Biology/Biomolecular Engineering.

Several Ph.D. positions in the Biophysical Chemistry/Structural Biology/Biomolecular Engineering Lab of Professor Cotten are available through the Department of Applied Science at the William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia: http://www.wm.edu/as/appliedscience/

Contact: Myriam Cotten: mcotten at wm.edu

Research project description

The Ph.D. positions are part of a concerted experimental effort to develop and employ biophysical, biochemical, and biological methods to investigate the interplay of vital biological functions at biological membranes such as host defense, cell signaling, and lipid trafficking. The main research tasks are to 1) identify physicochemical principles underlying molecular recognition and synergistic effects between biomolecules that converge at lipid membranes to exert their function; and 2) develop quantitative tools to engineer biological macromolecules and systems with useful biological properties for innovative applications in the treatment of infectious and inflammatory diseases. The work encompasses molecular design, synthesis, assembly, biophysical characterization of binding affinities and three-dimensional structures, and testing of biocompatibility and biological efficacy. The specific molecules of interest are host-defense metallopeptides, cell penetrating peptides, lipid-transfer proteins, neuropeptides, and functional lipids. Biophysical techniques such as NMR, oriented circular dichroism, and surface plasmon resonance are employed to identify the structural and physicochemical characteristics underlying function while biological assays will be used to quantify function, efficacy, stability, and cytotoxicity.

The positions provide opportunities to interact with leading groups in the fields of  protein-lipid interactions, catalytic metallopeptides, bacterial infections, NMR, neutron diffraction, molecular dynamics, and chemical biology.

Eligibility, application, and program information

We are looking for highly motivated, enthusiastic, inquisitive, creative, and outcome-oriented Ph.D. candidates who have the ability to interact collaboratively within a team and engage in interdisciplinary research.

Candidates must apply online at https://www.wm.edu/as/graduate/admission. Candidates must hold an undergraduate degree in chemistry, physics, chemical engineering, bioengineering, or a related field, and must have a strong academic record and prior research experience. William & Mary values diversity and encourages applicants from underrepresented groups who will enrich the research, teaching, and service missions of the university. Applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis.

The Applied Science Ph.D. program at William & Mary features: 1) Flexible graduate research projects and courses that are tailored to student needs and interests. The curriculum typically includes Math, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology courses; 2) Graduate stipends and full tuition fellowships. Students receive a Research Assistant stipend, tuition, and health insurance; 3) A historical and scenic campus in Colonial Williamsburg. Other local attractions include Busch Gardens, Virginia Beach, Washington, D.C., the Appalachian mountains, and Shenandoah National Park.

Undergraduate researchers

Inquiries about joining the lab are always welcome. Motivated and enthusiastic students are encouraged to contact Myriam Cotten, mcotten at wm.edu.