William Noid Receives Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award

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18 July 2012

William Noid, an assistant professor of chemistry at Penn State University, has been honored with a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Teacher-Scholar Award. The award supports the research and teaching careers of talented young faculty in the chemical sciences and includes a monetary prize.

Noid's research group develops and applies statistical mechanical methods to investigate various phenomena in biochemistry, molecular biology, and materials science. His group is developing novel computational and theoretical methodologies for investigating protein-protein interactions and, in particular, the unique physical properties and biological functions of disordered proteins. Recent experimental evidence indicates that these proteins play central roles in vital cellular processes and also may be involved in the development of Alzheimer's disease and other debilitating neurodegenerative diseases. However, these processes evolve on timescales beyond the scope of conventional computational models.

Most recently, Noid's lab has proposed a theory for determining accurate coarse-grained models directly from experimental data. Coarse-grained models are mechanical models of molecular systems in which the fundamental interacting particles represent groups of atoms. These models can investigate slow processes, such as protein-protein interactions, occurring on timescales that are inaccessible to more conventional models. Ultimately, these coarse-grained models will provide insight into the role of disordered proteins in both cellular processes and pathology.

Several prior awards have recognized Noid's research and scholarship, including a 2011 Sloan Research Fellowship in recognition of his cutting-edge, independent research accomplishments, a 2011 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation, and a 2010 American Chemical Society Hewlett-Packard Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in Computational Chemistry, given by the American Chemical Society's Division of Computers in Chemistry. In addition, Noid was honored in 2006 with a National Institutes of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award. In 2005, he received a Tunis Wentink Prize as an outstanding chemistry graduate of Cornell University.

Noid earned a doctoral degree in chemistry at Cornell University in 2005, and a bachelor's degree in chemistry with minors in mathematics and physics at the University of Tennessee in 2000.

Story by Katrina Voss