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Physical/Theoretical Chemistry Seminar: Professor Lu Wang, Rutgers University

Lu Wang headshot
March 2, 2021 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Physical/Theoretical Chemistry Seminar: Professor Lu Wang, Rutgers University (Host: Tom Markland)

About the Seminar

"Modeling the Quantum Effects and Vibrational Spectroscopy of Biomolecules"

Short hydrogen bonds, which have the heteroatom distances below 2.7 Å, occur extensively in organic small molecules and biological macromolecules. In the first part of the talk, I will discuss the structural and chemical features of short hydrogen bonds from our recent statistical analysis of the Protein Data Bank. From electronic structure calculations, we show that short hydrogen bonds in proteins exhibit considerable quantum mechanical characters and share common features in their proton potential energy surfaces. We have further carried out first principles simulations on a set of model molecules that mimic these biological short hydrogen bonds and elucidated how electronic and nuclear quantum effects promote the sharing of the proton in the hydrogen bonds and lead to distinctive 1H NMR chemical shifts. These findings will facilitate the investigation of the structure and functional roles of short hydrogen bonds in biological systems. Linear and non-linear vibrational spectroscopy provides a powerful tool to probe the structure and conformational dynamics of nucleic acids. In the second part of my talk, I will describe our recent progress on the modeling of vibrational spectra of nucleic acids. We have developed vibrational frequency maps and coupling models that allow one to calculate the vibrational Hamiltonian, and thus the vibrational spectra, of nucleic acids in the base carbonyl stretch region directly from MD simulations. Using a set of nucleobase derivatives and oligonucleotides, I will show that the predicted IR spectra in the 1600 – 1800 cm-1 region are in quantitative agreement with the experiment measurements. Our theoretical methods effectively connect MD simulations and spectroscopy experiments, which will provide molecular-level insight into the origin of the observed vibrational spectra of nucleic acids. 

About the Speaker

Lu Wang is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers University. Her research uses theoretical and computational tools to elucidate the structure, dynamics and spectroscopy of biological systems and nanomaterials. Lu received a B.S. from Nanjing University in China. She conducted her Ph.D. study at the University of WisconsinMadison with Professor Jim Skinner, and then worked as a postdoctoral fellow with Professor Tom Markland at Stanford University. Lu started her independent career at Rutgers University in January, 2016