New Faculty: Erik Thiede

Erik Thiede

Assistant Professor, Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Academic focus:

My research focuses on the development of algorithms for simulating biomolecules and analyzing biomolecular data.

Current research project:

One project I am particularly excited about is combining cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) data with molecular simulation to understand how proteins work. Proteins are the machines that do everything in our cells, but since they are so small it is hard to figure out how they function. Cryo-EM allows us to take pictures of them molecule by molecule, but since the pictures are so grainy (they can have a signal-to-noise ratio of 0.01 or less) it is difficult to make out what the proteins are doing. In our work, we disentangle what happens in these images by comparing them with physics-based simulations. This will help us understand how proteins move and help us design new treatments for deadly diseases like tuberculosis.

Previous positions:

  • Research Fellow, Center for Computational Mathematics, Flatiron Institute, 2020-2023
  • Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Computer Science, University of Chicago, 2019-2020
  • Graduate Research Associate, Department of Chemistry, University of Chicago, 2013-2019

Academic background:

  • Ph.D., Chemistry, University of Chicago, 2019
  • B.S., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2013

Last book read:

“Samguk Yusa” by Il Yeon, as translated by Ha Tae-Hung and Grafton R. Mintz

In your own time/when not working:

I'm trying to get back in the habit of playing the accordion, but mostly it sits on my shelf and collects dust.

Courses you’re most looking forward to teaching:

I will be teaching 387 [Principles of Physical Chemistry] next fall, and next year I'm hoping to design a new graduate course for artificial intelligence strategies in chemical science. I'm very excited about both courses.

What most excites you about Cornell:

What excites me most about Cornell is actually its educational mission. If we take our mission to be a place where “any person can find instruction in any study” seriously, then as professors our job doesn't stop at the blackboard.  We need to work actively and creatively to make a welcoming space, where people from all backgrounds and with all kinds of diversity can engage with ideas we love. This mission is incredibly daunting, but I also think it encapsulates the finest parts of the academic spirit.

Twitter handle:

@erik_der_elch

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