Research and Educational Themes & Collaborations







Dr. James Hone, Department of Mechanical Engineering
The Hone research group is engaged in interdisciplinary materials, fabrication and device research involving carbon nanotubes, graphene, nanoelectromechnical systems, and nanofabrication for cellular and molecular biology.  There are 15 students and staff working in the Hone research group.

Dr. Philip Kim, Department of Physics
The Kim laboratory focuses on the mesoscopic investigation of transport phenomena, particularly, electric, thermal and thermoelectrical properties of low dimensional nanoscale materials. These materials include carbon nanotubes, organic and inorganic nanowires, 2-dimensional mesoscopic single crystals, and single organic molecules. The use of modern state-of-the-art semiconductor device fabrication techniques and the development of new methods of material synthesis/manipulation are essential parts of this research. In particular, the Kim group is the leading group in the research of graphene, a single atomic layer of graphite.  There are currently 12 students and staff working in the Kim lab.

Dr. Kenneth Shepard, Department of Electrical Engineering
The Shepard laboratory is focused on the use of integrated circuit technology for life science applications. Current research efforts include the design of active microarrays for genomics and proteomics, nanopore and nanochannel devices with integrated nanoelectronics, active multielectrode arrays for electrophysiology, and biologically powered integrated circuits.  There are currently 21 students and staff working in the Shepard lab.



Dr. Julio Fernandez, Department of Biological Sciences

The Fernandez laboratory has pioneered single molecule AFM (atomic force microscopy) and combined AFM/optical techniques to study how mechanical forces affect the dynamics and chemistry of proteins. They study force dependency of protein folding, unfolding and chemical reactions, and extract features from transition states of these reactions to reveal underlying molecular mechanisms.

Dr. Jingyue Ju, Chemical Engineering / Columbia Genome Center
The Ju laboratory focuses on the design and synthesis of novel molecular tags for biological labeling and imaging, and developing new technologies to study problems in genomics. They are pursuing these research objectives by using chemical science, engineering principles and experimental biological approaches. They have pioneered the use of chemistry and fluorescence energy transfer (ET) principles to construct ET molecular tags for high-throughput genomic research. The ET tags facilitated the rapid development of laser induced fluorescence capillary-array DNA sequencers, which are the major driving force for completion of the international Human Genome Project.

Dr. Latha Venkataraman, Department of Applied Physics & Applied Mathematics
The Venkataraman laboratory focuses on understanding fundamental electronic, mechanical and thermal properties of single molecule circuits, consisting of a molecule attached to two metal electrodes. They fabricate these devices, with varied functionality, where the circuit structure is defined with atomic precision and measure how electronic conduction and single bond breaking forces in these devices relate not only to the molecular structure, but also to the metal contacts and linking bonds. Their experiments provide a deeper understanding of the fundamental physics of electron transport, while laying the groundwork for technological advances at the nanometer scale.  There are currently 6 students and staff working in the Venkataraman lab.



Dr. Wei Min, Department of Chemistry
Biophotonics is one of the fastest growing fields at the interface of physical science and life science. The newly emerging optical microscopy tools promise to make major contributions in unraveling biological processes that are localized in space, dynamic in time, and complex in nature. The Min group is dedicated to develop novel and powerful optical bio-imaging and spectroscopy techniques and to apply them to visualize and understand dynamic behaviors of bio-molecules and their delicate interactions in living cells and organisms.

Dr. Ozgur Sahin, Department of Biological Sciences and Department of Physics
The Sahin laboratory investigates biological systems that function under physical extremes like short timescales, confinement to nanoscale regions of space, and high mechanical forces.  They frequently develop new experimental methods to carry out our research.  Quite often, they encounter interesting phenomena in biological systems that they enjoy applying to medical, environmental, and energy related problems.

Dr. Rafael Yuste, MD PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Biological Sciences and Department of Neuroscience
The Yuste laboratory studies the structure and function of cortical circuits using advanced optical and biophysical approaches. By imaging and manipulating the activity of neurons in living brain slices, the group attempts to decipher the microcircuitry of mouse neocortex and understand how dendritic spines contribute to the circuit function.  This work could lead to better understanding of the pathophysiology of epilepsy.  There are currently 12 students and staff working in the Yuste lab. 



Dr. Virginia Cornish, Department of Chemistry
Synthetic Biology aims to engineer artificial pathways in cells both to test fundamental notions of how complex biological networks function and to develop new technologies for the treatment of disease.  Moving beyond advances in the last century for the synthetic manipulation of biomolecules in vitro, the Cornish laboratory is creating conceptually new approaches for the modification of biomolecules in a living cell.  As opposed to designing molecules that can be added to the cell with minimal perturbation of its natural functions, their approach is to design molecules capable of co-opting the cell's own highly evolved and integrated synthetic machinery (evolution and translation) for production of the modified biomolecules in vivo.  Finally, they are using these new synthetic methods to develop tools for live cell imaging.  There are currently 12 students and staff working in the Cornish laboratory.

Dr. Brent Stockwell, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Biological Sciences and Department of Chemistry
The Stockwell laboratory uses high-throughput methods to synthesize and test hundreds of thousands of small molecules and shRNAs for their effects on cellular and disease phenotypes, particularly involving cell death. They also perform in silico analysis of millions of compounds to select those likely to interact with specific proteins. They are defining new mechanisms of cell death involved in cancer and neurodegeneration using these tools.  There are currently 20 students and staff working in the Stockwell laboratory.


13th Floor

Dr. Luis Campos, Department of Chemistry
The Campos research group is interested in exploring nanostructured materials for the development of advanced functional systems. We take advantage of macromolecular structures that can be finely tuned through molecular design and robust synthetic strategies. The interdisciplinary nature of our work allows the group to build strengths in synthesis, device fabrication, and fundamental design and characterization of the materials from form to function.

Dr. Xiaoyang Zhu, Department of Chemistry
A main research thrust in the XYZ lab is to establish new photophysical mechanisms that may be utilized to revolutionize solar energy conversion. As examples, recent discoveries in our lab showed how an electron and a hole is bound by the Coulomb potential across an organic semiconductor interface, how one can extract hot electrons from a photoexcited quantum dot, and how an exciton can split into two via the singlet fission process. Answers to these questions are allowing us to formulate new solar energy conversion strategies with power conversion efficiency approaching or exceeding the Shockley-Queisser limit. Another small thrust in the group is to understand fundamental physical principles underlying bio-interfacial interactions, such as protein-glycan interaction on the surface of cell membranes.