All about Energy Landscapes: Generating and Analyzing them to Predict and Characterize Protein Structure, Dynamics, and Function.
Amarda Shehu (George Mason University, Computer Science)
Research in my laboratory focuses on the design of novel algorithmic frameworks for elucidating biomolecular structures and their rearrangements as fundamental to understanding (dys)function, cellular processes, our own biology, and disease. Inspiration comes from a combination of biology and science and engineering fields that model dynamic systems. Specifically, we are driven by the energy landscape view, which allows modeling and understanding the behavior of intrinsically-dynamic molecular systems interconverting between structures with varying energies. In this talk I will share two recent directions of our research, one where we utilize protein energy landscapes to address a well-known but open problem known as decoy selection in template-free protein structure prediction, and one where we construct detailed representations of energy landscapes of healthy and diseased variants of a protein molecule of interest to human health. On the latter, I will demonstrate that computing and mining landscapes is allowing us to discover and categorize mechanisms via which pathogenic mutations alter protein dynamics and function in human disorders. This is bringing us closer to machines revealing part of the complex puzzle on how mutations alter biological activities.
Investigating the Activity of the Condensation Incompetent Ketosynthase (KS0) Domain in Type I Trans-AT Polyketide Synthase
Reham Al-Dhelaan, Ph.D. candidate (You group, George Mason Chemistry)
Process intensification & consolidation for metropolitan wastewater treatment plants
Zhiwu (Drew) Wang, Ph.D., P.E. (Virginia Tech)
The rapid urbanization requires an urgent balance between the treatment capacity of the wastewater treat plants (WWTPs) and the urban population explosion. Techniques that allow “more to be done with less” become especially important for WWTPs confined within the metropolitan areas that serve 81% of the U.S. population. This presentation provides an overview of the efforts in Dr. Wang’s Manassas lab focusing on the development of sustainable biotechnologies for the intensification and consolidation of the liquid and solid waste treatment processes. Special emphases will be placed on the introduction of aerobic granulation that holds promise to replace the hundred-year old activity sludge process. These studies provide insight into engineered bioprocesses specifically tailored for urban biological wastewater treatment, with the overarching goal of advancing the environmental engineering research and serving the technical needs of industry stakeholders.
Dr. Wang is an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. His research covers wastewater treatment, nutrient removal/recovery, solid waste anaerobic digestion, bioprocess modeling, and the conversion of waste into renewable energy and valuable bioproducts in the form of methane, ethanol, electricity, diesel and bioplastics. He holds a Ph.D. degree in Environmental Engineering from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and a P.E. degree in Environmental Engineering from Harbin Institute of Technology, China. He serves as the Co-Director of the Virginia Tech Center for Applied Water Research and Innovation (VT-CAWRI) and the associate editor of the Water Environment Research Journal.
If you are interested in meeting with Dr. Wang over lunch (at 12pm) or after the presentation, contact Dr. Van Aken.