Physical Chemistry Seminar: Professor Evan Miller, UC Berkeley

Evan Miller

Photo credit: Michael Barnes

Date Range
Tue May 9th 2023, 3:00 - 4:00pm
Sapp Center Auditorium 111

About the Seminar 

Electrophysiology, Unplugged: Using Chemistry to Watch Cellular Physiology

Across all forms of life, cells spend a large portion of their energy budget to maintain unequal concentrations of ions across their plasma membranes. The resulting electrochemical potential, or transmembrane voltage, is critical for a number of fundamental cellular processes. For example, rapid changes in the transmembrane potential of neurons results in neurotransmitter release in these highly specialized brain cells. Similarly fast changes in muscle cells cause contraction and set the pacing of our heart. Even in non-excitable cells, where membrane potential changes can be much slower, voltage is linked to a variety of cell outcomes including differentiation, cell cycle, and cancer aggressiveness. Despite the importance of cellular membrane potential, we lack effective, universally-applicable methods to measure membrane potential with high speed, sensitivity, and precision. My lab has been investigating new chemical approaches to measure membrane potential in cells using fluorescent dyes. I will discuss the design, construction, and application of these new dyes for watching cells in action.

About the Speaker

Evan Miller works at UC Berkeley, where he is fortunate to collaborate with a fabulous group of scientists - undergraduates, graduate students, and post-docs - in his lab in the Chemistry and Molecular & Cell Biology Departments. He started working at UC Berkeley in 2013. Prior to that Evan had the opportunity to study with the late Professor Roger Tsien at UC San Diego from 2009 to 2013. Evan's love of all things fluorescent began during his time pursuing a PhD in chemistry / chemical biology as a graduate student with Chris Chang (also at UC Berkeley). Evan earned his undergraduate degrees at Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU), majoring in philosophy/theology and biology/chemistry. It was at PLNU in Professor Michael McConnell's intro to cell biology class that Evan first caught the bug for studying biological chemistry. At PLNU, Evan worked with Professor Vic Heasley doing summer research. Despite all of the fun Evan has thinking about chemistry and biology, one of the best parts of his current job is seeing lab members go on to success: 17 students have received their PhD while working with Evan and 30 undergraduates have earned their degree at Cal while collaborating in the lab.

Host: Bianxiao Cui