Our research integrates investigating the structure and function of targeted membrane proteins with development of mixed reality tools for workforce development. We combine biochemical and biophysical techniques to investigate the structure and function of two classes of membrane proteins. In the first instance, we are investigating the mechanism of a zinc transporter, hZIP4. This protein has been implicated in the initiation and progression of pancreatic cancer. Despite the central role of this protein in cellular homeostasis, the mechanism of cation transport is not well understood. Secondly, we have been investigating the molecular determinants that help to define the functionality of opsin proteins.
More recently, we have designed, developed, implemented and assessed mixed reality programs for the life science space. As part of our emphasis in improving outcomes for various stakeholders, we have built an augmented reality-based safety training program shown to be more effective than traditional lectures in this area. Also, we have designed smartphone apps for protein structure visualization. Most recently, we have built a flow chemistry app for industry partners.
Robert Dempski, associate professor of chemistry & biochemistry, wrote an op-ed on keeping the door open to international scientific collaboration for the Telegram & Gazette.