This interview is part of a series highlighting exceptional chemists who have shared their conference poster or presentation through SciMeetings. Launched by ACS Publications as virtual science sharing platform in March 2020, SciMeetings helps presenters increase the global visibility and extend the longevity of the research they present at conferences.
Dafu Wang is a PhD student at Colorado State majoring in materials science. He is a current graduate assistant in Dr. Matthew Kipper’s group. Below he discusses the poster “Interactions of DNA with porous protein crystals measured by atomic force microscopy” from the ACS Fall 2020 Virtual Meeting.”
What’s your research focus? What attracted you to this field?
Our current research is focusing on the development and characterization of engineering functional protein-based biomaterials. Specifically, we are studying the interactions of porous protein crystals with guest molecules, furthering our understanding of how a new protein-based biomaterial can be used to bind guest molecules.
The biomedical applications of our research field are promising, which attracted me. It will lead to future work towards developing nanomaterials capable of responding to selective biomolecular recognition by activation of a topology-enabled signal transduction cascade within a 3-D nano reservoir. This includes the development for high-density encapsulation, assembly, and preservation of functional biological guest macromolecules and macromolecule assemblies, triggered release and catalogued retrieval of archived guest molecules, and transduction of biomolecular binding events to mechanical and biochemical signals for modulating cell-surface interactions.
Who are your mentors? How have they impacted your work so far?
I appreciate Dr. Matt Kipper and Dr. Chris Snow at Colorado State University, with deepest gratitude for their mentorship, who give me education and encouragement to pursue my dream. They inspire my research and help me with professional guidance. They are outstanding role models, not only as scientists with hard-working ethic, rich theoretical knowledge, strong experimental ability, and extensive experiences, but also as persons with great charm and personalities. They lead me by example to work towards being a good researcher.
Where did you get the idea for the research presented in your poster?
This is a wonderful example of teamwork in research. The idea of this study comes from the professional experience of my academic advisors, as well as the valuable preliminary studies of my colleagues. Dr. Matt Kipper has furthered the application of atomic force microscopy, while Dr. Chris Snow’s research developed new types of protein crystals and successfully demonstrated several applications. They are all vital to the ideas, as well as the whole research. Throughout the entire study, I fortunately have their generous help and professional guidance.
What do you think is the most important unsolved problem in your field right now?
There are two important unsolved problems in this field right now. First, during the preliminary study, we have successfully measured the interaction between DNA and protein crystals by atomic force microscopy. As a result, we have collected a large data set including hundreds of thousands of interaction trace records. There is no previous example about how to analyze such a huge volume of interaction trace records. Therefore we have to find an unprecedented and creative way to effectively and scientifically recognize, cluster, and analyze these data. Second, eventually we need to approach this work into a single-molecule level, which we are making a great effort on right now.
What advice would you give to anyone presenting a poster for the first time?
Be confident, and put your passion into your work.
Is there added value in presenting your research on SciMeetings?
Of course. Begin with preparing this work (even after the event), I have had a unique chance to review my work from multiple different points of view, by communicating with people. Spread through the power of the internet, we had the chance to introduce our work to more people who are interested in this field. Comments and opinions from the peers always helpful and valuable, which improves the quality of our work.
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