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Justin Lemkul

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry


Postdoc, University of Maryland, Baltimore (2013-2017)

Ph.D. Biochemistry, Virginia Tech (2012)

B.S. Biochemistry In Honors, Virginia Tech (2007)

My research interests are in understanding the forces governing conformational change in proteins and nucleic acids and employing computer-aided drug design strategies against highly dynamic systems. I developed the Drude-2017 nucleic acid polarizable force field during my postdoc.

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Marcelo Polêto

Postdoctoral Associate


Postdoc, Universidade Federal de Viçosa (2019-2020)
D.Sc. Cell and Molecular Biology, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (2019)
M.S. Cell and Molecular Biology, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (2016)
B.S. Biochemistry, Federal University of Viçosa (2015)

My research interests are focused in understanding the driving forces of conformational dynamics in different biomolecular systems and investigating possible druggable targets through computational techniques.

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Laura Gil Pineda

Ph.D. Student


B.S. Chemistry with Honors, focus on Biochemistry, Universidad Icesi (2019)

B.S. Pharmaceutical Chemistry with Honors, Universidad Icesi (2019)

My research interests lie in using molecular mechanics to study systems of interest in the field of medicine such as IDPs and amyloid proteins. In my free time, I like to listen to music, watch movies, read and, more recently, crochet. 

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Haley Michel

Ph.D. Candidate


B.S. Biochemistry, The University of Akron (2020)


My research aims to better understand G-quadruplex folding and its impact on biological processes and disease towards the development of novel therapeutics. Outside of the lab, I enjoy cooking, crafting, weightlifting, and spending time outside exploring the NRV.

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Julia Montgomery

Ph.D. Candidate and NSF GRFP Fellow


B.S. Chemistry, St. Joseph's College (2019)

My research project aims to better understand the energetics of small molecules partitioning membranes using the CHARMM and Drude force fields for potential implications in drug design. Outside of the lab, I spend my time exploring local trails, playing guitar, and cooking up new recipes. 

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Bekah Fogarty

M.S. Student


B.S. Biochemistry, Medicine and Society Minor, Virginia Tech (2022)


My research project is investigating the dynamics of the VEGF and PIM1 DNA G-quadruplexes, and in my free time I love to cook and bake!