Michael Colvin

The past century has seen tremendous progress in determining the biochemical and biophysical processes that constitute life. One exciting consequence of this understanding is the possibility of developing mathematical models of biological function that are accurate and even predictive.

Professor Colvin’s research uses a wide range of simulation methods to model biological systems at different levels. Much of his research uses molecular modeling to study biochemical problems, with a particular emphasis on modeling the activity of DNA-binding food mutagens and anticancer drugs. These methods involve computing the structures and energetics of biomolecules using either quantum or classical mechanics, and often require the use of supercomputers.

Other molecular modeling projects include studying:

Synthetic analogs to nucleic acids and exotic nucleic acid structures
The function of DNA-processing multiprotein complexes
The mechanism of cytochrome P450 and other enzymes
More recently, his research interests have expanded to include simulations of biophysical and cellular processes using equations that describe the system as continuous (and sometime stochastic) dynamical systems.

These projects include:

Simulating the formation mutagenic compounds during cooking
The operation of the nuclear pore complex
Cell fate decisions

These projects offer a wide range of research projects for students interested in the application of mathematics and computers to understand the living world.

Research Thrusts