Robert E Collins, Ph.D
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry
Dr. Collins is an Assistant Professor in the Chemistry and Physical Sciences department. As a structural biologist, his teaching and research focuses on atomic level explorations of biological chemistry. His current research focuses on the discovery, purification and characterization of enzymes that utilize metals (particularly copper) in catalysis.
Dr. Collins obtained his PhD in Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology at Emory University, and was awarded a Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellowship at Yale Unversity.
Primary areas of teaching: Biochemistry Lectures (CHE 315 & 316) and associated lab (CHE 315L).
Dr. Collins uses biochemistry and structural biology to study enzymes that catalyze reactions using transition metals. Students in his lab use bioinformatic tools to search for novel metal containing enzymes, which are then expressed in E. coli using recombinant DNA technology. Following purification by column chromatography, the enzymes are characterized using spectrophotometric enzyme assays. Last, X-ray crystallography is used to solve the atomic structures of the enzymes discovered. Structures allow us to better understand enzyme specificity and mechanisms, to refine the bioinformatic search process, and to allow for design and engineering of better performing enzymes. Recently, the lab has focused on discovering enzymes capable of degrading lignin (the major barrier in the production of biofuels from cellulosic biomass) or that have applications in greener industrial processes and enzymatic remediation.