Fall 2010 Recipients
The 2010 Robert S. Hyer Research award in the graduate category was awarded to Antonios Samiotakis and Prof. Dr. Margaret Cheung from the University of Houston. Antonios’ research has focused on the study of the dynamics of biological macromolecules under cell-like conditions by applying molecular simulation methods. A cell’s interior is a crowded and concentrated environment that impacts the behavior of macromolecules. It affects the rate of protein folding, protein association and the overall conformational changes that cannot be probed in dilute solutions. In order to tackle this problem effectively, Antonios and his advisor Dr. Cheung have combined molecular simulation methods with high performance computing resources that allows for the efficient simulation of large systems. In addition, they developed a multiscale simulation scheme that combines coarse-grained models with all-atomistic simulation techniques. This approach allows to significantly enhance the conformational sampling of a protein’s folding energy landscape. An energy function that accounts for chemical interference in coarse-grained models of proteins was also developed and tested on a small peptide, resulting in structures that agreed very well with experimental results.
 D. Homouz, M. Perham, A. Samiotakis, M.S. Cheung and P. Wittung-Stafshede, "Crowded, cell-like environment induces shape changes in aspherical protein" Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A.,105, 11754-11759 (2008). This paper was highlighted in the following Journals: Chemical and Engineering News, Aug 18th 08, press, “Crowded Shapes”, Research Highlights in Nature (vol 454, p21, 2008), “Mob Rule” and Research Highlights of 2008 in Nature (vol. 456 p840, 2008).
 A. Samiotakis, P. Wittung-Stafshede and M.S. Cheung, “Folding, stability and shape of proteins in crowded environments: Experimental and computational approaches”, Int. J. Mol. Sci. 10, 572-588 (2009).
 L. Stagg, A. Samiotakis, D. Homouz, M.S. Cheung and P. Wittung-Stafshede, “Residue-Specific Analysis of Frustration in the Folding Landscape of Repeat β/α Protein Apoflavodoxin” ,J. Mol. Biol. 391, 75-89 (2010)
 A. Samiotakis, D. Homouz and M.S. Cheung, “Multiscale investigation of chemical interference in proteins”, J. Chem. Phys. 132, 175101 (2010)
 A. Christensen, Q. Wang, A. Samiotakis, M.S. Cheung and P. Wittung-Stafshede, “Factors defining effects of macromolecular crowding on protein stability: an in vitro/in silico case study using cytochrome c” , Biochemistry 49, 6519-6530 (2010)
 A. Dhar, A. Samiotakis, S. Ebbinghaus, L. Nienhaus, D. Homouz, M. Gruebele and M.S. Cheung, “Structure, function and folding of phosphoglycerate kinase are strongly perturbed by macromolecular crowding”, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 107, 17586-17591 (2010).
The 2010 Robert S. Hyer Research award in the undergraduate category was awarded to the young physicist, Mr. Thomas Markovich and his advisor Prof. Dr. Donald Kouri of the University of Houston. They received the award for the Development of novel extensions and applications of Super-Symmetric Quantum Mechanics towards solving realistic multi-particle and multi-dimensional systems. Thomas is the vice president of the local SPS chapter at the University of Houston. His is working on a double major, and is a member of the honors College.
 “The Heisenberg−Weyl Algebra on the Circle and a Related Quantum Mechanical Model for Hindered Rotation”, J. Phys. Chem. A 113, 7698-7705 (2009).
 Donald J. Kouri, Thomas Markovich, Nicholas Maxwell, Eric R. Bittner, “Supersymmetric Quantum Mechanics, Excited State Energies and Wave Functions, and the Rayleigh-Ritz Variational Principle: A Proof of Principle Study”, J. Phys. Chem. A 113, 15257-15264 (2009).
 Eric Bittner, Donal Kouri, Kaushik Maji, Thomas Markovich, “A New Generalization of Supersymmetric Quantum Mechanics to Arbitrary Dimensionality or Numberof Distinguishable Particles”, J. Phys. Chem. A 114, 8202-8216 (2010).