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Structure and motion in soft condensed matter. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy and relaxation measurements in soft condensed matter systems. Collective motions in model membranes, phase transitions in liquid crystals.
The major research focus of our laboratory is related to the biophysics of photosynthetic light conversion. The majority of photosynthetic pigments (chlorophylls, phycobilins and carotenoids) perform a light- harvesting function, absorbing light and transferring energy with very high efficiency to the reaction centres where this energy is utilized. Photosynthetic organisms in natural environments are challenged by exposure to changing light intensities and stress conditions. The balance point between efficient light harvesting and potential photodamage is fine and dependent upon changing environmental conditions and metabolic demands. Most plants are unable to modify the environmental light levels they are exposed to. As a result, they have developed numerous mechanisms that allow them to fine tune the absorption, distribution and safe dissipation of the light energy. These mechanisms involve a close interaction between light-harvesting pigments and their protein environment. Our general goal is to understand the molecular photophysical mechanisms of energy conversion in photosynthesis and the regulation of these processes.
Quantum and/or computational chemical physics. Theory and applications of quantum Monte Carlo to electronic structure problems involving transition metal systems.
Art van der Est's research focuses on using modern time-resolved electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopy to study the structure and function of photosynthetic reaction centres and porphyrin-based model systems. Current projects involve manipulation of the quinone binding site in photosystem I from plants and cyanobacteria. The work on porphyrin-based model systems is directed primarily towards understanding the influence of paramagnetic transition metals such as Cu2+ on energy transfer in systems of coupled chromophores.
The focus of my research is on the biophysics of lipid-peptide interactions. I have been chiefly interested in determining the structural characteristics of membrane active peptides such as gramicidin, melittin, islet amyloid polypeptide, and various viral fusion peptides. In addition, I am interested in the effects of perturbations such as proteins, substrates, temperature, and pressure have on the structural and phase behavior of lipids. My experiments are centered on neutron diffraction, and related techniques.
David's main research interest is non-invasive methods for detecting motor unit firing patterns. Modeling and simulation are used in conjunction with indwelling recordings of motor unit activity to validate novel surface electromyographic techniques. He is also interested in methodological issues involved the use of evoked potentials for electrodiagnostic testing.