B.S. - University of Wisconsin - Madison, Biochemistry (2012)
Ph.D. - University of California - Los Angeles, Biochemistry (In Prog)
Research: In 2013, we discovered a novel mevalonate pathway in archaea. Solving the structure of one of these new enzymes, mevalonate 3-kinase, showed it could be mutated to make biofuels. Such efforts are currently the focus of my work.
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (2014 - 2017)
NIH Chemistry Biology Interface Trainee (2013 - 2014)
When not in lab, I am usually doing outreach. I travel to schools nationwide where I get kids excited about science through fun demos. Details: www.DancingScientist.com
o Vinokur JM, Korman TP, Sawaya MR, Collazo M, Cascio D, & Bowie JU. (2015). Structural analysis of mevalonate-3-kinase provides insight into the mechanisms of isoprenoid pathway decarboxylases. Protein Science, 24(2), 212–20.
o Vinokur JM, Korman TP, Cao Z, Bowie JU. (2014). Evidence of a novel mevalonate pathway in archaea. Biochemistry, 53(25), 4161-8.
Jeff Vinokur, Graduate Student
Nick Woodall, Graduate Student
In the Bowie lab, I am studying the process of membrane protein folding. Towards this end, I have examined the transition-state structure of bacteriorhodopsin using phi-value analysis. I am currently working on the process on which EmrE obtains its dual-topology.
I graduated from Georgia Tech in 2010 and have never left the safe confines of school. Ever.
Hobbies: working in lab, slide guitar, hanging beers from oven doors in an attempt to open them, reading (aka "book clubbing"), The Venture Bros., useless discussion, camping, miscellaneous guilty pleasures, tossing ice buckets, laughing at puns, running, lists, programming in Java, java, backpacking, Tetris, extrapolation
Saken Sherkanov, Graduate Student
• B.S. – California Institute of Technology, Class of 2003
• Ph. D. – University of California, Los Angeles, 2008-present
We are working on engineering efficient biofuel pathways in bacteria. We have succeeded in producing high-levels of medium-chain fatty acids in E.coli that could be further processed to biofuels and commodity chemicals. Currently, we are developing and optimizing genetically-engineered biofuels’ pathways in E. coli that utilize endogenous fatty acid biosynthesis.
In my free time, I dedicate my energy to the issues of public education. Upon graduating from Caltech, I joined Magnolia Science Academy (MSA), a non-profit charter school in Los Angeles area, as a physical science and biology teacher. During his 5-year tenure in MSA, I helped to expand MSA to many other campuses in Los Angeles and other cities. Currently, I am one of the board members of Magnolia Education and Research Foundation that oversees 11 charter schools in California.
Sherkhanov S, Korman TP, Bowie JU. Improving the tolerance of Escherichia coli to medium-chain fatty acid production. Metab Engineering. Sep. 2014; 25:1-7.
Rob Jefferson, Graduate Student
I am studying membrane protein folding using the steric trapping method developed in the Bowie lab. I measured the extremely slow unfolding kinetics of the E. coli membrane enzyme diacylglycerol kinase. I am also working on employing the steric trap method for single-molecule measurements of membrane protein stability.
I was an undergraduate at Whitman College in biochemistry where I worked in the Juers lab before coming to UCLA.
Jefferson, R. E., Blois, T. M., & Bowie, J. U. (2013). Membrane proteins can have high kinetic stability. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 135(40), 15183-15190.
Tyler Korman, Associate Project Scientist
I am studying something quite incredibly awesome in the Bowie lab. We are attempting to reconstitute cellular metabolism outside of cells by combining >20 purified enzymes from specific pathways to convert glucose into useful chemicals.
I was an undergraduate at the University of California, San Diego graduating in 2001 in Chemistry and Biochemistry. I also played a bit of soccer for UCSD. After graduating, I stayed and worked towards and MS in Chemistry with the late Bill Allison before starting graduate school at the University of California, Irvine with Sheryl Tsai. After publishing a few papers I graduated and moved further north to UCLA and have been in the Bowie Lab since 2008. I do not think I will move any further north since I grew up in the Bay Area and I don’t love flannel shirts.
My hobbies are working every minute I possibly can in lab. I also like to play and watch soccer and head to the mountains when there is snow. I also have two ridiculous children and a wife who take up a bunch of my time.
Duyoung Min, Postdoctoral Fellow
Ph.D. in Physics, KAIST (2014)
Research interests: single-molecule approaches to membrane proteins, especially mechanical pulling on them. Personal website:
Paul Opgenorth, Postdoctoral Fellow
In the Bowie lab I am trying to develop ways of producing specialty and commodity chemicals using an in vitro mixture of enzymes in something we call “synthetic biochemistry”.
I completed my undergraduate degree at UC Davis in Chemistry. After graduating, I worked at a company called Sangart in San Diego that produced an artificial blood substitute. Alas, after a number of years development and phase three clinical trials the company went belly up before the product ever reached the market.
I look forward to the day that something I do in the lab makes it out to the real world but In the mean time I try to stay sane by balancing lab work with playing the guitar, rolling jiu jitsu (UCLA club sport by the way), and participating in the business of science program here at UCLA.
Zheng Cao, Postdoctoral Fellow
B.S. - Materials Chemistry, Beijing (Peking) University, China
Ph.D. - Chemistry, University of California, Los Angeles, U.S.A.
I am studying hydrogen bonding in transmembrane helices in Bowie lab. Hydrogen bonding is one of the main forces that drive protein folding. In membrane protein, we previously found that backbone hydrogen bond shift facility the flexibility of transmembrane helices. Now, I am trying the measure backbone hydrogen bond strength by using NMR and studying the relationship between the weak/strong backbone hydrogen bonds and amino acid sequence in transmembrane helices. My work will bring a much profound insight into the role of hydrogen bonding in regulating membrane protein stability and flexibility.
Xianghui Qi, Visiting Scholar
• Associate Professor – Jiangsu University, China, 2007- Present
• Postdoctor – Biochemistry, Nanjing Tech University, China, 2009-2011
• Ph.D. – Microbiology, State Key Laboratory for Bio-resources,Guangxi University, China, 2003-2006
• Engineering and regulation of microbial metabolic pathway, biocatalysis and biosynthesis.
• Discovery and functional identification of new enzyme and microorganism.
• Molecular modification and engineering of enzymes.
My hobbies:Working, Hiking, Walking, Running
Meaghan Valliere, Graduate Student
B.S. in Chemistry, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Currently, I am working on developing a method for the biosynthetic production of paclitaxel.
In my free time I like watching or playing sports and exploring LA.