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PhD Dissertation Defense

1 minute read



I gave my final PhD dissertation defense on Monday. This was a very special day, and week, to reflect on the work I’ve done and the progress I’ve made as a scientist, and to share that progress with my family, friends, and the academic community here in Amherst. It’s been a wonderful and challenging expeirence. Read more

1st class done!

less than 1 minute read



My first class, a first-year seminar called “Order and Chaos, Reconciling atomic randomness and the human world” was a big success. Some of the final projects students designed, carried out and presented:

  • Gas permeation through a eggshell-like membrane (pictured below)
  • Irreversibility of an explosion simulation
  • Thermal equilibration and planet formation
  • Equilibration of plucked strings
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ResearchFest Presentation

less than 1 minute read



For my recent presentation at the UMass Chemistry ResearchFest, I was awarded the second-place award, a great honor and a generous monetary prize. I was among 4 student speakers selected for the highly-competitive presentations each year. One senior student per lab can be nominated. I was following in the tradition of the great Xiaorong Liu, who spoke at my first ResearchFest in 2018. Read more

Eureka! girls science camp

less than 1 minute read



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CNS Teaching Fellowship

less than 1 minute read



The UMass College of Natural Sciences offers a First-year seminar to CNS-declared majors under the broad umbrella “Think like a Scientist”. Graduate students interested in a teaching career are encouraged to apply. Each FYS is unqiue to the person teaching it, which gave me the opportunity to build a (mini) cirriculum and practice some skills I learned abstractly by taking CIRTL online training courses. Read more

Introduction to Evidence-based Teaching

less than 1 minute read

This online course (through the edX platform and CIRTL) introduced me to the kinds of challenges facing an ‘expert’ in a field who is trying to reach a collection of students with various skills, previous knowledge, and emotions. In fact, the growth-mindset and iterative, active learning priciples I hope to implement are the same I need to use to learn how to teach.

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The Inclusive STEM Teaching Project Course

less than 1 minute read

This online course (through the edX platform) used embodied case study videos and self-reflection prompts to train grad students, postdocs and current faculty to approach education through personal and inclusive strategies backed by the latest educational reserach.

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Erik and Zoes wedding

less than 1 minute read

Erik and Zoe got married in Eagle, ID. We met a the College of Idaho in Caldwell, ID.
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Awarded CBI Fellowship

less than 1 minute read

The Chemistry Biology Interface (CBI) is a competitive NIH-funded fellowship designed “to train students with diverse scientific backgrounds for productive research at the interface between chemistry and biology” at UMass.”

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Website built

less than 1 minute read

My labmate Xiping Gong and I learned that one can host a free website at username.github.io using a special repo with that name. He then found the awesome template academicpages.github.io, which I immediately forked and started using. Since then, many Chen lab members have followed suit: Read more

hobbies

Podcasts/YouTube

I listen to some podcasts and YouTube channels Read more

people

Zoe Nordquist

I am Zoe, artistic creator of the digital avatars of this site! Read more

publications

research

Hydrophobic Dewetting in protein ion channels and model nanopores

Hydrophobic dewetting forms a vapor barrier and closes BK Channel; how do mutations or drug-like molecules (de-)stabilize this delicate liquid-vapor interplay?

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Physics-based modeling of Hsp70-substrate binding

Molecular chaperones like DnaK help fold misfolded proteins,
but how do they distinguish well-folded, misfolded, and disordered regions?

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BK Gating Voltage Predictor

Given abundant mutational data, I’m leveraging molecular and statistical modeling to predict gating voltage of the BK channel.

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Molecular dynamics simulations

Using Newton’s laws to simulate molecular motion, like these wiggling waters:

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Computer-aided drug discovery

Using simulations of proteins and small molecules to identify new drug candidates

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talks

teaching

Undergraduate Research Mentoring

I have mentored a few undergraduate students at UMass Amherst (2019-2021). I hope to continue this in my own teaching career, through small projects, independent studies, and research projects integrated into courses.
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Scientific Storytelling

Effective scientific storytelling is similar to telling a fairy-tale.

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Natural Sciences First-Year Seminar

The goal of the FYS is to welcome first-year CNS students and prepare them for college and for a major in the sciences.
2015_Fall_Campus_mkt__MG_9474.jpeg
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Guest lectures

  1. Molecular mechanics and additive protein force fields; UMass Chem 586 Statistical Mechanics
    • Feb 2020, Instructor: Dr. Jianhan Chen
  2. (Guest moderator) Student-led discussion on AlphaFold2 Nature paper; Amherst College Biophysics Seminar
    • Mar 2023, Instructor: Dr. Ashley Carter
  3. Drug design and CADD in Cancer Biology; UMB Grad. Program in Life Science 665 Cancer Biology: From Basic Research to the Clinic
    • Sep 2023, Instructor: Dr. Feyruz Rassool
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