Biophysical Society Bulletin | February 2023
Biophysicist in Profile
Gail Robertson President-Elect Taekjip Ha Past-President Frances Separovic Secretary Erin Sheets Treasurer Samantha Harris Council Patricia Bassereau Henry Colecraft Erin C. Dueber Martin Gruebele Gilad Haran Kumiko Hayashi Syma Khalid Francesca Marassi Susan Marqusee Carolyn A. Moores
In August 2015, Ha started a position as Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Biophysics & Biophysical Chemistry at Johns Hopkins University. His colleague at Johns Hopkins, Sarah Wood son , first met Ha during his second postdoc, when he interviewed for a junior faculty position in her department. “I really wanted to hire him—it was obvious he was brilliant and going to be very successful. Unfortunately, we could not hire him at that time, but we were able to hire both he and his wife Sua Myong later,” she reports. “I have really enjoyed hav ing TJ as a colleague.” Woodson and Ha began collaborating during Ha’s time at UIUC, first on a project to un derstand how ribosomal protein S4 recog nizes its binding site in the ribosomal RNA, using the single-molecule FRET approaches worked out in his lab. “The collaboration was suggested by Zan Luthey-Schulten, who had been doing computer simulations of S4-rRNA interactions. I was thrilled by this opportuni ty, because my group had been performing a number of biochemical studies of S4 bind ing, and we knew that the protein S4-RNA recognition process was very complicated. TJ’s single-molecule methods were clearly one of the best ways to sort out this complexity,” Woodson states. “Although this project was technically challenging, it returned a direct view of the kinetic path of binding, showing
how protein S4 reshaped the RNA motions.” Those results were published in Nature in 2014. They next collaborated to develop a meth od for vectorial RNA folding, using a “super helicase” designed in Ha’s lab. “This method mimics the 5’ to 3’ direction of RNA folding during transcription. The results unexpect edly showed that the first attempt at 5’ to 3’ folding was actually more likely to go wrong than subsequent attempts,” she adds. “This unexpected result helped us understand some later findings that RNAs do not necessari ly fold correctly immediately after they are transcribed by RNA polymerase. Sometimes it takes a long time for a newly made RNA to achieve its proper 3D shape.” As incoming president of the Biophysical Society, Ha looks forward to giving back to the biophysics community in his new role. “What makes the Biophysical Society great is its members. Our members define what biophysics is by their action, by unlocking fundamental answers in biology using quan titative methods,” he declares. “We witnessed biophysicists rising to the challenge of the pandemic. The value of rigorous science and scientific methods to humanity has rarely been as self-evident as in the last few years. The Biophysical Society’s role is to help its members to become heroes of their own scientific endeavors.”
Kandice Tanner Valeria Vasquez Biophysical Journal Vasanthi Jayaraman Editor-in-Chief The Biophysicist Sam Safran Editor-in-Chief Biophysical Reports
Jörg Enderlein Editor-in-Chief
Society Office Jennifer Pesanelli Executive Officer Newsletter
Executive Editor Jennifer Pesanelli Managing Editor John Long Production Ray Wolfe Proofreader/Copy Editor The Biophysical Society Newsletter (ISSN 0006-3495) is published eleven times per year, January-December, by the Biophysical Society, 5515 Security Lane, Suite 1110, Rockville, Maryland 20852. Distributed to USA members and other countries at no cost. Cana dian GST No. 898477062. Postmaster: Send address changes to Biophysical Society, 5515 Security Lane, Suite 1110, Rockville, MD 20852. Copyright © 2023 by the Biophysical Society. Darren Early Laura Phelan
Nominate yourself or a colleague for a 2024 Society Award Open until May 1, 2023 For the first time, BPS Society Awards are open to self-nominations. Nominate yourself or a deserving colleague for one of the 10 Society Awards by May 1, 2023. To ensure a diverse candidate pool, we particularly encourage nominations of women, international members, and those fromunderrepresented groups. Join us Sunday, February 19, from1:00 PM-2:30 PM at the Annual Meeting in San Diego for a workshop on how to write great nomination and support letters. Learnmore by visiting our website: biophysics.org/awards-funding/society-awards.
Printed in the United States of America. All rights reserved.
T H E N E W S L E T T E R O F T H E B I O P H Y S I C A L S O C I E T Y
Made with FlippingBook Learn more on our blog