Zaida “Zan” Luthey-Schulten is an international leader in computational biophysics and bioinformatics. She has been selected as a Fellow of the Biophysical Society in 2019.
Zan’s early work, motivated by the discovery of magnetic field effects on chemical reactions on the first passage time description of diffusion-limited processes and polymer chain motion is now textbook material in biophysical chemistry (co-authored with Attila Szabo and Klaus Schulten). She made important contributions to the energy landscape theory of protein folding, for example by quantitatively pinpointing the entropy-reducing role of helical structure formation.
Martin Gruebele, Head of the Department of Chemistry said, “Her most recent work is her most powerful: Zan is a world leader in whole-cell dynamics, and has scaled up her particle-based diffusion-reaction models from dividing bacteria, to yeast cells, and now even stem cells! These models incorporate a host of experimental data, from cryo-electron microscopy to kinetic metabolic measurements, and provide a dynamical look at entire cells. Moreover, for bacteria she has scaled the work to multiple cells, where interactions in colonies can be studied on the computer.”