The Chemla lab studies mechanical processes in biology. Our interests range from how proteins interact with DNA - bending, wrapping, or translocating along the molecule - to how cells swim and process information from the environment. We use state-of-the-art biophysical techniques such as optical tweezers and fluorescence to detect such processes at the level of a single molecule or cell. These techniques are extremely powerful since they are not subject to the averaging artifacts of traditional ensemble biochemical methods.
Students in the Chemla group work on all facets of research: design and construction of instrumentation, development of biological systems, and quantitative analysis and modeling of collected data. Interested students and postdocs with backgrounds in physics, biology, chemistry, or related fields are welcome to contact Prof. Chemla.
Our paper, Escherichia coli swimming is robust against variations in flagellar number, accepted in eLIFE
Our paper, Sequence-dependent base pair stepping dynamics in XPD helicase unwinding, accepted in eLIFE
Zhi Qi received a Ph.D. He will be working as postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University. Congratulations!
Our paper, DNA target sequence identification mechanism for dimer-active protein complexes, accepted in Nucleic Acids Research
Cracking its whips: coordination of flagellar locomotion in E. coli
A research team led by biological physicists Yann Chemla at the University of Illinois and Ido Golding at Baylor College of Medicine has experimentally demonstrated that individual flagella on the same E. coli cell tend to move in a coordinated way, whether swimming or tumbling. The team used “optical tweezers” to immobilize individual E. coli cells under a microscope, enabling for the first time simultaneous tracking of both swimming behavior and flagellar motion for long durations. They and their graduate student Patrick Mears detail their technique in a paper published in the Feb. 11, 2014 online edition of eLIFE
Our research group is funded by
NSF Center for Physics of Living Cells
National Institute of Health
National Science Foundation
Burroughs Wellcome Fund
Department of Physics, UIUC