PhD, University of California San Diego
Statistical thermodynamics and kinetics of RNA and protein folding.
Prof. Chen’s group studies the statistical thermodynamics and kinetics and computer modeling of biomolecules and polymers, particularly RNA & protein folding. Biological molecules are large organic molecules composed of hundreds or thousands of atoms bound together by covalent bonds into a chain-like structure. One of the best known challenges in biology is to understand how biomolecules fold properly into compact structures to perform biological functions and how they mis-fold to cause disease. A fundamental problem his group is pursuing is the study of the physical principles that govern folding-unfolding of bio-molecules. Based on the physical principles, the group is developing statistical mechanical theories and computational models that can make accurate predictions for the sequence-structure and structure-activity relationships for biomolecules. This involves statistical physics, computer simulations and, of course, mathematics.