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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.


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.


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. 


Ashley Goodberlet

Ph.D. Student


B.S. Biochemistry, North Carolina State University (2022)

I am interested in discovering potential drug targets using computational modeling techniques to develop new therapeutics. In my free time, I enjoy doing puzzles, painting, and baking.


Kait Malewicz

Ph.D. Candidate


B.S. Biology, Stony Brook University (2018)

My research lies at the intersection of biochemistry and evolutionary biology and uses toxin resistance as a system to study protein evolution. I’m using MD to uncover the mechanism of toxin resistance in voltage-gated sodium channels. My hobbies include bird watching, making music with my friends, board games, gardening, road tripping, and snapping candid moments of my loved ones on film.

Kait is co-advised by Dr. Joel McGlothlin in the Department of Biological Sciences.


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.


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. 


Sam Farrokhpoor

M.S. Student


B.S. Biochemistry, Virginia Tech (2021)


My research interests are in understanding the dynamics of nucleic acids, particularly RNA. In my free time I’m usually working out or spending time with friends.


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!


Patrick Gilles

Undergraduate Student


B.S. Biochemistry, Computer Science (class of 2025)


I’m interested in gaining a deeper view into how biomolecules interact, and in optimizing the process of conducting in-silico research. In my free time, I enjoy birdwatching, climbing, and solving Rubik’s cubes.


Zachary Hoyer

Undergraduate Student


B.S. Clinical Neuroscience, Biochemistry (class of 2024)


My interests are in understanding biomolecular conformational change, particularly in regards to small molecule interactions. After playing baseball for about 6 years, I still can't throw a ball straight.


Candace Miller

Undergraduate Student


B.S. Biochemistry (class of 2024)


I am interested in amyloidogenic proteins, their unique properties, and how it translates to neurodegenerative disease. In my free time I like to backpack, rockclimb, and crochet.


Igor Soares Canuto

Undergraduate Student


B.S. Biochemistry, Systems Biology (class of 2026)


I'm interested in developing new skills in computational biology that can help analyze and predict the structures of biomolecules and their interactions, which may lead to the development of diseases. When I'm not hitting the books, you can find me at the gym working out or staying up to date on what's going on around the world.

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