Chemistry Seminar - Computational Resources for Biochemistry Education

scms seminar paul craig basil biochemistry education

Developing and Applying Computational Resources for Biochemistry Education

Dr. Paul Craig
Professor and Head
School of Chemistry and Materials Science, RIT

Biochemistry is about structure and function, but it is also about data - lots of data - and this is where computers come in. From my time as a graduate student and post-doc, whenever I encountered data I thought, "I can work this up by hand, but I think a computer could do a better job," even though I knew very little about coding. Since that time, I have been working at the interface of biochemistry and computers, by attracting talented students and collaborating with colleagues with complementary skills. This has resulted in several projects I would like to present: the human visualization project, a simulation of 2D electrophoresis and tandem mass spectrometry, and two different programs that enable biochemists to search protein structures for enzyme active sites, ProMOL ( and Moltimate ( In addition to describing and demonstrating the websites and software we have developed, I will also discuss the human side of the project – how to find and work with the right students and colleagues for a project. This includes effective communication across disciplines, building and managing effective teams and the importance of serendipity throughout the process. I will conclude with a discussion of how the enzyme active site alignment tools formed the basis of the BASIL (Biochemistry Authentic Scientific Inquiry Lab) and changes in student and faculty behaviors and learning that have emerged from this project.

Speaker Bio:
Paul Craig is professor and head of the School of Chemistry & Materials Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). He earned his B.S. in chemistry from Oral Roberts University in 1979 and his Ph.D. in biological chemistry with Eugene Dekker from The University of Michigan in 1985. Following a post-doctoral fellowship studying the biophysical chemistry of blood clotting (Henry Ford Hospital) and five years as an analytical biochemistry at BioQuant, a technology transfer company associated with The University of Michigan, he joined the Department of Chemistry at RIT in 1993, with plans to “use computers to teach biochemistry.” He has taught courses in biochemistry, analytical chemistry and bioinformatics. His students have developed computer simulations of protein separations (chromatography and electrophoresis – both 1D and 2D) and software for molecular visualization and predicting protein function. He helped to found the BioMolBiz working group ( which promotes molecular visualization literacy. He currently leads the BASIL consortium (Biochemistry Authentic Scientific Inquiry Lab;;, a growing team of faculty members from more than ten campuses who are implementing a course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) where students use in silico and in vitro techniques to predict and test protein function. In 2017, he received the Chemical Pioneer award from the American Institute of Chemists, followed by the American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Award for Exemplary Contributions to Education in 2018. He has been married to his wife, Elsa, since 1986, and they are very proud of their four children.

Michael Cross

Event Snapshot
When and Where
Tuesday, January 14, 2020
12:30 PM-1:45 PM
Thomas Gosnell Hall

Open to the Public

Interpreter Requested


student experience