Dan is a fifth year biochemistry undergraduate at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia. He is working in theoretical and computational biophysical chemistry with the Dima group under Dr. Mangesh Damre and Amanda Macke studying the proposed mechanism of microtubule-severing enzymes.
Dan wrote the following on his research:
My research this summer is centered on a protein called katanin. Katanin is in the group of proteins called microtubule-severing enzymes which play important roles in cell division, motility, and structure/support. In the presence of ATP these enzymes sever, or break apart, microtubules that make up various components of the cell, including spindle fibers, cilia/flagella, and the cytoskeleton. Katanin is of particular importance because it degrades the spindle fibers during mitosis and meiosis, pulling the cell's chromosomes apart into each daughter cell. To investigate katanin's proposed catalytic mechanism I am performing molecular dynamics simulations with the GROMACS software package which fundamentally utilize Classic Newtonian Mechanics to calculate the motions and subsequent positions of every atom throughout the length of the simulation. Afterward, I am performing normal mode analysis on the protein to determine how specific regions of the protein move with respect to one another in an attempt to map the allosteric network of the system. Using molecular dynamics and normal mode analysis, I am figuring out an enzyme mechanism that nobody knows.
Hear about why Dan went into chemistry in this video above.